I had no idea I could be so exhausted from spending my days speaking English. But man, oh man, the English immersion class I have been so excited about teaching concluded last night around 10:00 and this morning I feel a little bit like I have been run over by a moped carrying two Brasilians, followed by being trampled on by a horse and buggy, and finally being squashed by a city bus. (Not that I have experienced any of the previous tragedies, but, if I had, I think I'd feel something like I do right now.)
I went into the experience a bit anxious, as I really didn't know what to expect. All I knew is that there would be 12 people who all held upper management positions in a big company and spoke some degree of English already. I arrived at the hotel about 30 minutes outside of Belo Horizonte at 7:45 Monday morning, met up with the language school's owner and the other teachers who I would be working with, and waited for our students to arrive. We started the program at 8:30 and went strong all day until about 10:00 that night. Over the course of the three long days, I taught small group workshops on US social etiquette, US business etiquette, presentation language, and English pronunciation, I worked with students on perfecting a business presentation they are planning to give in the coming months, we read and debated case studies and articles from The New York Times, I went for early morning walks, ate lots of great meals, and enjoyed fabulous conversation. The middle-aged business men and women, that I was initially slightly intimidated to be teaching, turned out to be wonderful people with great attitudes towards the whole experience. And last night as I said goodbye to everyone, I left highly encouraged as a teacher of my native language. The entire experience was quite incredible.
Brasilians amaze me regularly with their love of foreign language and their desire to study and learn. While there are Americans who speak Spanish, French, German, or a whole array of other languages, that tends to be very much the exception and not the rule. Here, especially among those in middle to upper management positions, foreign language classes are totally the norm - and not only English, the international language of business. There are plenty of people taking Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, French, or Italian classes too. It isn't so much the fact that they learn foreign languages as much as it is just my amazement at the commitment to continuing their education. How rarely do Americans in their 40-50's leave work in the evenings to go take classes a couple times per week (or more)? And this happens throughout a great majority of their career, not just one or two years of it. It's just something that I really respect about the culture.
After spending much of last week preparing material for the immersion class, along with my editing work, I feel like I've accomplished nothing at home. Laundry is piling up, floors need mopped, personal emails need answering, and cooking supper for my husband might be a nice gesture too. But at my sluggish pace today, the fact that I have editing to catch up on, and the English classes I teach on Thursday nights, all the housely duties are probably going to have to wait. Luckily I have tomorrow. Well, actually, I have a school wide teacher workshop tomorrow from 9 am until 6 pm where I will get my teaching schedule for the upcoming semster - which starts on Monday. (Have I mentioned how much I love the advanced planning around here?) Okay, next week. Thank goodness I have next week. (Although I'm starting to think a bit more about the advice of everyone here: maybe it is time to get a maid.)