The art lesson in my first form group consists of two hours, with a break in between. In the the first hour I managed to instruct them for their first task. Apparently they understood my English well enough to start working on a self portrait while “paying attention to proportions”, which is a difficult concept for spunky young artists. No Dutch was needed. And I listened to them. Once in a while I feigned being baffled when someone asked something in Dutch. I guess they felt ill at ease. I didn’t console them.
After the break I hammered it home.
- “Everyone is drawing a self portrait now very precisely. I didn’t speak Dutch at all. Clearly you understand English well enough. The teacher does not need to speak Dutch. Right?” They agreed.
- “Some of you addressed me in Dutch. I don’t buy that. I will not answer any question in Dutch.” I used an example which happened during the first hour, some student asking for a “lineaal”. I explained them how to get around not knowing the word “ruler”, using a lot of ungrammatical English, histrionics and gestures. “So I will accept poor English, and body language but only if it is English Sign Language, I will accept any effort to express yourself barring Dutch.” I believe they got that too.
- “The most difficult thing to do is speaking English to your class mates. You must. I know, it is weird, it is unnatural, it is not funny at all, and certainly it is not something you realised you had to do when you chose to be in this programme. If you do, by Christmas you will discover that you are starting to think in English. If you don’t you will be out of this programme by the end of the year.” I made them stand up if they agreed and of course everyone did. I can be quite convincing, if needed.
I will repeat this at the start of the next lesson. Ensuing I will enforce the law, using yellow cards for warnings and doling out red cards which will send them off the playing field, for ten minutes to start with, which, of course, must be met with after the last hour of the day.
A revered colleague of mine keeps records in her “Book of Hell” I am a poor accountant, I am more a referee.
They will love to hate me.