Friday, October 14, 2011

We are gardeneres.

Wednesday was a holiday -- no classes, but Thursday morning I finally met the other class of students at IES P.  This group is all boys, ages 16-20 would be my guess, and boy do they love to chat.

At some point during the class, they received a two-page vocabulary list of different jobs.  The teacher, whom we're calling Paloma on the blog, told them to write a sentence for each profession, rotating between the different forms of the verb "to be".

For example:
I am an accountant.
You are an artist.
He is a barman.
You are cooks.
We are gardeners.
They are hairdressers. 

And then they start over with I, continuing down the list of professions.

They haven't yet learned how to create plurals of English nouns, so someone raised their hand to ask Paloma the rule.  I believe she said something along the lines of, "Add -es if it ends in a consonant and add -s if the word ends in a vowel".

I didn't completely hear what she told the student, but I knew it didn't sound right to me.  I walked around to see how the sentences were coming along, and saw words like: "artistes," "priestes," and "gardeneres".  When I saw mistakes like these, I told the boys it was only an "s".

They wanted a rule based on if the word ended in a consonant or a vowel, but I knew pluralization wasn't that black and white.

There was one word on their list that ended in a "y" - "nanny," - so I told some of them about changing the "y" to "i" and adding "es" (know that rule by heart).

But for every other profession on their two-page list, I only saw words that require adding an "s" at the end.  So when is it "es"?  I couldn't think of a rule to tell them that would explain every situation.  Since I had so many words in front of me that didn't require -es, it was hard to think of some.

Then the words "church" and "bush" popped into my head.  So I showed one kid in back that, for example, you add "-es" to write the plurals "churches" and "bushes," but it really bothered me that I didn't know a rule to teach them.

After class, I went to the library for my two hours of prep time, and the first thing I did was look up English pluralization.  No wonder I didn't have a clear, easy rule in mind -- see for yourself!

"If words end in -ch, -x, -s, -sh, -z or s-like sounds", that's when you add the -es.

Now take words that end in "o".  Sometimes you add "-es," like for the word potatoes.  But sometimes it's just an "s," like for the words pianos and photos.  There are rules for if the word ends in a single "z," and don't forget about the words that end in "f"! (leaf - leaves).  To read the whole mess, visit the "see for yourself" link above.

So I spent the first chunk of my time creating an informational sheet about pluralization in English which I'll show to Paloma next week and see if she wants to make copies of it.  We could at least hand it out as a resource...

I'll leave you with a picture of the library at IES P where I've been working during prep time.

IES P library
It's small, quaint.  I'm not sure how it works if you want to check out a book though, because every time I've been there so far the library is locked.  I have a key that opens it, so I can get in and work.

On Thursday at one point there were two kids "being punished" that were sitting at the table you see on the right.  However, there was a teacher sitting on the other end of the table to supervise them.  It seems like you can't be in the library if there isn't a teacher present.

Next Monday I'm going to teach the older (20-45 yrs. old), well-behaved IES P class a bit about Wisconsin!  They just began learning English, so I'm making a poster to have visuals.  What should I be sure to tell them?


  1. Cheese, trees, lakes, deer, cows, and (of course) Badgers, Packers, and Brewers.

  2. I think I got all of those on the poster... except the Brewers. I'll post pics tomorrow; we'll see if I fit them in.

  3. Dear Raisin, Rochelle, Rosemary

    I have not run out of R-names

  4. Good to know, Mr. Not-So-Anonymous Billiam!