Smarter than a fifth-grader?

Am I smarter than a fifth-grader? Joanna and Irini would say, “No way!” (I’m sure there is a Greek translation.)These 10- and 12-year-olds stayed with Kevin and me for their entire free period today, trying to teach us Greek words and phrases. After much head-slapping and groaning, they seem to have decided we were hopeless. “See you tomorrow!” they called as they left, which we took as both an optimistic sign and also a clear indication of their bilingual superiority.

We have now taught for three days. Every morning a bus picks us up at 8 at our hotel and delivers us to Saint Martina School, about 10 minutes away. We return to the hotel at about 1:30. In between, we teach three 45-minute classes and use one free period to recuperate.

In some ways, it is more challenging than I thought it would be. We plan many of our activities on the run. Some work; some clearly need re-thinking. And the kids vary in their English comprehension. Some can write a coherent paragraph; others have trouble with basic vocabulary.

It is also more fulfilling than I imagined (see Joanna and Irini above). The kids are eager to learn, even in this very hot weather on their summer vacations. I am also thrilled to see my daughter becoming attached to the third- and fourth-graders she and Samantha are teaching.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, it seems nothing like a hotel. It’s more like a big house with lots of bedrooms and a big dining room. It is impossible to tell the owners from the relatives from the guests. Here in the lobby, they gather to talk, play cards, and feed us. They don’t speak much English, but they hug us and laugh with us. We hear there’s a party here Friday night; I’ll keep you posted.

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