This week has been busy. Simon’s classes started their vacation last weekend, so it’s just been the secretary and me at school. There have been a ton of odds and ends to tie up; everthing that needed to be done before the break had to be done this week. I gave retests to students who needed them, I talked with parents who were considering signing their kids up for my classes, and I got all of my students’ homework problems sorted out.
One of the most interesting problems I had this week was a mother who was unsatisfied with the result of her son’s entrance test. In and of itself, this isn’t unusual at all. Every parent that comes in seems hell-bent on putting his or her children into classes they can’t survive in. That’s just par for the course. Usually, after seeing just how little English the children know, and after seeing them fail every part of the entrance test, parents accept the idea that skipping into a higher level is out of the question. Not this mom, though.
She came into the school slightly out of breath and hefted a stack of papers onto the front desk. They were all certificates. Some were from a Cambridge young learner’s program, a couple were from another buxiban called Joy, and several were from places that I’d never heard of. She started going through them one by one and telling me what each certificate verified- that her son knew 2000 words, that his English was “upper-intermediate”, that he was destined to become a literary giant, etc…
Naturally, I asked why he’d made gramatical mistakes on almost every single question on his entrance test, why he’d failed every portion of the phonics assesment, and why he couldn’t even understand most of the English sentences (composed entirely of simple tenses and words drawn from a “500 most frequently used words” list). The mother’s answer? Of course he knew all that stuff. He was just nervous the first time. Could he please take another entrance test?
Okay, I figured. I’d just updated my entrance test anyway. About half of the questions were different than they had been before, so I might as well let him give it a go. He utterly failed it again. Then, the mom wanted me to retest his phonics. He utterly failed that, too. Just when I was expecting a long and difficult explanation ahead, she smilled and signed him up for a new class to open after the holidays. What a relief.
I’m not sure how many students I’ll have after the break, but it’s looking pretty good. I think my salary will increase by about 50%, bringing it up to half of what I used to make working for Ron. It’s a slow process, but we’re definitely making progress. It’s a good thing, too. I’m broke, and I’m only going to make about 20k this month, due to the New Year’s vacation. Since my bank account has dwindled down to just 30K, 16 of which will go to rent, and some of which will go to utilities, I’m not going anywhere. I’m just going to stay at home, play on my computer, and relax for a couple of weeks.