Job Years Plus The Teacher That I Was – 1

Becoming a teacher was my first choice to study in college. But my parents objected because they knew teachers receive low pay; the female ones especially undergo too much stress from students — ending up as spinsters to boot. My father decided I’d take up BS in Accounting instead which I proceeded to labor on for four years. Wrong choice — considering my appreciable strengths lie in Language and the Arts. It was, however, too late for me to turn back.

After graduation, I took a job in the Circulation and Accounting departments of a local newspaper while at the same time reviewing at night for my professional licensure examination. Seven months later, I tried my luck taking the national test for Certified Public Accountants — I failed. It didn’t surprise me; my family was. They knew I wasn’t brainless. But you see, although the study of Financial Accounting had been fairly tolerable; it was the higher Accounting branches of Cost, Managerial, and Taxation that bored me to tears I spent most of my time daydreaming in front of our professors during class periods.

The second time I took the CPA exam, I surprisingly passed (with barely favourable outcome). My parents were delirious. I wasn’t. Because I was already alert to the reality I wouldn’t be successful in the field. I just don’t have passion for that kind of work.

Fast forward over several years of mostly job hopping as bookkeeper, Receivables Analyst, Auditor, Administrative Assistant in various companies throughout my singlehood. Then I got married and had a baby. Within three weeks after my son was born, my husband went home to his mother and kept on disappearing, I scrambled to find a job and managed to find one, thankfully. My husband turned up on and off in our lives for 10 years — even jeopardizing my occupational security when he demanded that I quit the job I was holding at one time — out of his, once again, irrational jealousy. Shortly thereafter, my marriage irrevocably crumbled and I earned incontestably the status of a single parent. I went back to work part-time generating financial statements and auditing inventories.

Through my sister’s connections, my husband (before he finally left) had started the tiny business of distributing government-sponsored tickets which he turned over to me as soon as we separated. Alas, earnings from that selling booth proved insufficient for my son’s pre-highschool education so when I saw one day in the newspaper an opening for English instructors, I went and got the job.

Talking About My Job Which Has Become The Biggest Part Of My Life

This blog is a running record of my life, my thoughts, my emotions. Therefore, I am entitled to express anything I wish regardless of who I might offend. K?

Taken a week ago by my student using my Polaroid tablet. Polaroid stuff are supposed to take very good quality pictures, right? Nice view from glass window behind me is surprisingly non-existent. But  I look 8 years younger, at least. :-)
Taken a week ago by my student using my Polaroid tablet. Polaroid stuff are supposed to take good quality pictures, right? But the nice view from the glass window behind me is surprisingly non-existent. Well, this shot made me look 8 years younger, at least. 🙂

As a teacher, I am well aware of my abilities. I love what I do. Give me a student who is willing to study, who’s willing to be taught, and I’m good.

A group class is more challenging for me, which is abundant during peak season, a period each occuring at the middle and end of the year. Handling a group class provides the same benefits of a performance; I like being in charge in front of an audience who, in this case, are my students.

There were a few students who became dear to me – something that could only be engendered by the enthusiasm they had shown me in studying the language. Without that, there is really nothing much to connect me to any of them. In case you’d be intrigued to know, throughout the annals of my teaching profession, I can count with two hands the mere number of trainees who had shown interest in assimilating my favorite dialect.

There is another confession to be made here why I am not crazy about these kind of people: They are among the highly self-absorbed inhabitants of this planet, IMO. The superiority complex has been attributed to their rapid financial progress since the 1990s. You may get surprised how the new generation is spawning bratty kids who have no genuine desire for gaining knowledge; who may end up economically dependent on their parents their whole lives. You’d also be surprised to know most of them dislike the English language – and the American people.

But the more disturbing reality for me is their general lack of concern for animals. The majority of them even hates cats. The most repulsive fact of them all? They eat dogs – something that’s deemed legal in their state; Heart-crushing for an animal lover like me. Well, I live in a country where dogs get eaten, too (I know I know, how horrible), especially on drinking sprees during festivities. I find it abominable to my very core. It’s considered against the law, nevertheless, and we do not have legitimate restaurants for dog-meat consumers.

Why then am I working for them? I was past 35 years of age when I got this job. One hardly gets hired where I live once you start approaching your 40s. Besides, this line of work was decidedly ideal for me because I love English. I didn’t want to go back to accounting and administrative work – the line I had been trained for in college. A wonderful opportunity as well to read the good books that are available in the academy for my self-development beckoned. And I needed the income.

It has been eight years now. There has been countless of times when I’ve had misgivings on the worthiness of it all. Heaven knows what I gave up for this job within those years.

This is how I’ve honestly felt in spite of my fondness for English and my vocation. A bit of hard sentiments from me I guess, but I’ve come to augment my standards on the ones I interact with.

And perhaps you now get a better understanding as to why I just have to frequent the blogosphere and seek my few favorite writers who give me back my sanity at the end of a full day’s work. 🙂

Besotted By Idioms and This “Perfect” Language

This lady from Manila gets moved by thunder and spectacle. Or perhaps I am plain easy to please. During an earlier blogging period, a pro writer (Cliff Burns of Beautiful Desolation) blew me away when he injected the idiom “no quarter given bloodbath” on one of his compositions. Dazzled yet barely grasping its absolute meaning, I tried to use it every chance I could – unmindful that I might have been doing injustice to the expression and appalling my reader at the same time.

Idiomatic expressions fascinate me, more so in the not so distant past – in advance of my enlightenment that they’d long been deemed clichés or worn-out articulations according to “The Writer’s Constitution.” The first official post of this blog [I deleted the real initial ones, shh..] was “Idiomatic Nut” in which I gathered a few expressions and pieced them together to come up with coherent sentences. Some examples are as follows:

Don’t talk turkey or you’ll be the talk of the town.

Smart Alec rubs Smarty Pants up the wrong way and becomes a punching bag.

How do you like them apples? Though one bad apple hit rock bottom and gone pear shaped.

A fish out of water drops in the bucket and ends up a flash in the pan.

Cool, huh… No? Anyway, if you wish to see the whole post, click here:

Caution: I’d merely striven for jocosity. Don’t believe a word of it. 🙂

Is that a Cloud Seven or a Cloud Nine, or just a Cloud on the Horizon?
Is that a Cloud Seven or a Cloud Nine, or just a Cloud on the Horizon?

Well, I found doing that quite fun then; I find it quite fun up to this day. Meaning – I’ve done it again. Take a look at the ones I just came up with:

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire – and it’s bringing down the house.

Beating a dead horse is the height of stupidity.

Find the guts to bite the bullet then have it ram down your throat.

Come hell or high water, don’t get caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Throw your weight around till you’re blue in the face.

If it’s cut and dried, it doesn’t hold water because it’s running on empty.

Grab the bull by the horns and drop dead in its track.

Bad hair day = Dead man walking

Lay all your cards on the table, put two and two together, then play with fire.

Big Honcho and Queen of Hearts are raising Cain and peeping Tom. It runs in the family.

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the kiss of death is when you don’t hold your breath.

Enough, enough… I know. That’s how hog-wild I am concerning this language. English is an epic fragment of my enjoyment, not to mention it serves as the focal point of my bread and butter – teaching English, that is. I even get a thrill whenever my boss shoves me into a room with more than half a dozen students inside to train. I love being in charge of a group class; even if our subject matter gets down to the intricacies of grammar. Er, that reminds me, I’m far from being done with my own copy and study of Cambridge’s “Advanced Grammar in Use” – because yours truly is a never-ending work in progress with respect to that discipline.

You see, prepositions (is it really “on my list” than “in my list”?) and perfect tenses are among my grammatical debilities. In my earlier years, simple past had been sufficient for me to refer to finished actions; I didn’t want to have to do with any grammar jargon that has got the word “perfect” in it – like past perfect simple or  future perfect progressive tense. Yikes. But ever since making the decision to spend my remaining productive years as an ESL instructor, I’ve rolled up my sleeves getting acquainted with the various conjugations of sentence construction.

Let me illustrate (before capping this post):

Simple past:

The schmoe acted like a jerk.

Present perfect progressive:

The schmoe has been acting like a complete jerk.

Past perfect progressive:

The schmoe had been acting like an unmitigated jerk for some time.

Future perfect progressive:

The schmoe will have been behaving that way for ages by the time I get the urge to choke him into a state of comma, I mean coma.

See what I mean? Dauntingly convoluted, don’t you think? 🙂

Now you’d better not mention to me the issue of spelling and punctuation.

Yes, Filipinos Are Indeed Good At English

It behooves me why my post “On Why Filipinos Are Good In English” has garnered the most number of hits on this blog site. Are people truly wondering why and how good we are at English? I’m an ESL teacher in an English Academy here in the city capital of the Philippines. And I didn’t even major in English. I am actually a Business grad with some accounting and administrative practice under my belt that I not so proudly count as job experience. Then why, you may ask, did I end up as an English instructor? Do I have a license or even the right to teach this honorable language? The answer to that, of course, is well, I don’t have both. No license and no right at all. But I’ve got something else which can justify my current job circumstances. Passion for teaching and love of Language. Why am I saying all this? For the reason that it got me thinking as to why I am fairly good in this language. I didn’t even like studying grammar during my school years. As I mentioned before in a previous post, our grammar textbooks had been full of jargons and complicated explanations I couldn’t bother with. One thing sustained my love for English though, and that was reading. I firmly believe Western literature has made me the kind of person that I am now, in the most positive way.

My country has become the preferred destination for a certain Asian country whose citizens are more than required to learn a language they aren’t that crazy about (Why? I honestly don’t know). They bother to travel all the way here for the purpose of gaining some substantial fluency in English at a price cheaper than the real McCoy in learning it, i.e., heading to the West. Cool. It definitely helps increase employment opportunities for many of my fellowmen here. By the way, in the academy where I work, most of my co-teachers are nursing graduates who can’t find work elsewhere. There had been an oversupply of nurses here because the demand abroad suddenly diminished a few years back. The point is, every Filipino who has obtained a college degree is qualified to teach these other Asian nationals lacking on the English fronts.

For this post, I’m going to state the obvious one more time. Yes indeed, the Filipino people are good in English. The language is embedded in our culture. It’s been our way of life. We can’t claim that we are masters in this field. And I myself still have a whole lot to learn. The brand of relaxed wit most American writers possess in their prose is something that I still aim to acquire. Not to mention I’ve got a long way to go in my Advanced English studies. But boy, do I feel lucky being paid for something that is very much related to my lifelong passion. I am blessed.

On Why Filipinos Are Good In English

My students have always kept asking me, “Teacher, why are filipinos good in english?” Indeed, the Filipino people are among the best english speakers in the world. We’ve always done well in the field of Languages. That can explain why many of our provinces here have their own dialects.

We may lack the fluid sophistication of native speakers who can naturally express themselves with refreshing intangibility and a spirit of friskiness. Nonetheless, we can definitely hold our own.

The Philippines had been colonized by Spain for nearly 300 years (compared to the U.S. occupation for a mere 40 years) and yet less than 10% of our population could speak Spanish, considering the fact that in college, we were required to complete 16 units of Spanish until (thank heavens) it was scrapped 15 years ago.

The English language sustains our planet for now. There is no other language in this world that can knock it down from its throne. It sits on the top of the heap without any real competition.

We do almost everything here using english. We watch the foreign news, patronize American books and magazines. We’ve got no problem making copious use of dictionaries and thesauri. As long as we get our message across, we’re gonna do just fine.

And how we love Hollywood films. It doesn’t matter that we struggle a bit to catch up with the actors who talk too rapidly. We always manage to enjoy the whole film. And do you know how crazy we can get about American and British pop music?

I regret the fact that I failed to cut through the jargon and couldn’t combat the Gremlins of grammar when I was still in school. Eighty percent (80%) of our subjects in school are in english. In elementary school, we labored on our english subjects using mediocre Philippine grammar books that left us more confused than enlightened. But we habitually persevere and do our best to study the language real hard. All for the love of English, I believe.

Far too many college graduates who are having a hard time finding a good job end up becoming ESL instructors. If you’re reasonably schooled in the Philippines, there’s no way you can’t teach English to non-native speakers.

It doesn’t matter that we can’t pronounce a word perfectly, though we are probably known to be the most flexible earthlings on this planet. You want american accent? No problem. British accent? Umm.. sure, we’ll try.

Fluency in english is a symbol of good education and affluence in this country. It’s a reflection too of your intellect and how well you’ve done in life. It’s even mandatory for the upper class to sound like American native speakers at all times, even in the comfort of their own homes. If you are really rich, lacking in Tagalog (our national language) is a natural phenomenon. That’s just the way it is here.

 But not having english as our second language in this country is unimaginable. More than ever, it is fundamental to our lives, our success and our happiness.

Part 2 of this post can be read at the link below: