Well, today I discovered something very frightening; what’s more, I am still shocked to my core from the moment I heard a voice uttering the words:
“Después de 10 años juntas descubro que no hay comunicación entre nosotras” (After 10 years together, I have just discovered that there is no communication between us).
After the initial state of surprise had passed, I went through a phase of confusion: "But if I'm not talking to my husband, the lips that uttered this statement cannot belong to my husband, nor can this room be the living room of my house, nor can this conversation be typical of two people in a long and happy marriage." Thanks to my extensive knowledge of grammar, I received the first clue: the phrase refers to female subjects (juntas, nosotras) and since I am married to a male individual, the statement spoken does not refer to my married life. That and we were in the staff room. Through the midday haze, I traced the outline of my colleague from the language department. My colleague, my fellow-sufferer, my faithful companion in this adventure of teaching Spanish was telling me that after 10 years together, she was discovering that there was no communication between us? And she seemed depressed about it.
I almost said something like: “But I love you as I always have, ever since the day I arrived lost, disoriented and new and you welcomed me with a smile and offered me a cup of coffee and helped me find my groups. I learned so many things from you.” Or something more definitive like: “There’s no one else, only you.” But then I thought that instead of sticking my foot in my mouth, it’d be better to ask a question: “B b b b but why do you say that?”
And she told me.
It turns out that she’d discovered quite by accident, one day when she was substituting for me, that we were teaching the same things but using rules that were not only different, they were even contradictory. After all these years thinking we were in agreement on teaching grammar her way and here I’ve not only been explaining it differently, I was even discrediting her method, mocking the theory principles that supported it, discrediting her.
But, darling, I still love you, I don’t have eyes for anyone else, I respect and admire you in the same way I did on the first day I met you, that day that you explained the school’s curriculum to me in the staff room as if you’d written it yourself. And then, in the cafeteria when no one was listening, you told me that things could get tough, that I should just try to make it to Friday alive. And with that simple phrase, you summed up all the knowledge of one hundred curriculums. How could I discredit your teachings?
Well, I did.
It turns out that she followed the Francisco Matte Bonn model, which explains the indicative / subjunctive opposition in terms of new / shared information, the same model that I (apparently) agreed to follow when I began teaching at our school. But I had adopted the criteria of José Plácido Ruiz without having first discussed, reviewed and evaluated it with my colleagues; logical steps when deciding to take new teaching approaches.
But I did tell you, I even showed you the article and I sent you an email with the activities I prepared to teach it. We’ve talked about it many times…
And here we are, tomorrow we have an appointment with the school counselor to try to come to a joint decision on how to, first and foremost, respect the consistency of grammar and secondly, explain the subjunctive in such a way that students understand how and when to use it. So we’ll see, if we can work this out like adults, we may not need the intervention of the mediator and we can go back to having coffee together while criticizing the curriculum, the other departments, the head of studies, the school director and the gardener’s mother in law…
by Salomé Torres on Thursday, May 09, 2013
A Conference about Applied LinguisticsI don’t really give it too much thought when I make up my mind: an international conference is happening near my town, a place where I don’t get many chances to gain professional… more »
by Lauris on Friday, May 03, 2013
Spanish-speaking nationsWhen talking about Spanish-speaking nations, people often make the big mistake of overlooking the United States. The US is one of the countries with the largest number of Spanish speakers.… more »