After I took over from Andrea, I found I had a lot of preparing and catching up to do. They had done all the grammar they needed, but I thought maybe they could do a little on the past tense. We then spent a lot of time building vocabularies, doing a little basic Business English and all the time trying to get them to talk. I know I can be a bit slapdash and realised this a couple of times when I’d missed a mistake on a sheet, or hadn’t checked whether the words were too unfamiliar, but I slowed down and got more thorough. However, I felt strongly that they should do the work themselves rather than be spoonfed, that the group should support each other,especially with the language difference. I found the first couple of weeks really tiring but gradually got more energy.
Now every job I’ve had here has involved my ‘difficult Austrian’ such as Lois and Erna, and here I found I had one who was worse than all the others rolled together. She had come to do a beginners course, and felt this was too hard for her. Andrea told me she had moaned and complained that she didn’t understand, it was all too hard for her, until in desperation Andrea had given her a very basic book to work on by herself. So when I took over, I got the same grief. Everytime I tried to explain anything, it was ,’Your German is too poor, I can’t understand you’. I offered her extra time alone with me to work things through, after all there were 9 others in the group. This she refused as she’d had enough after 5 hours, God forbid that she gave up her smoking break! So in desperation, I gave her my laptop and earphones so that she could work independently. She was so hostile that I admit I took the lazy option and left her alone. When she needed help she asked her neighbours who were patient and rarely me. One woman was very able and helped her, the other was one of the weaker ones, and seemed to join in with the negativity. I really considered splitting them all up, but that’s what you with kids isn’t it? The trouble was that Daniela would be on her own agenda with jokes and sniggering, she even got in a hump when I asked her to be quiet as the others couldn’t hear, I got, why can’t we laugh together and she stropped off. When I tried to explain something to the group it interfered. When I was trying something I thought they had done (they hadn’t) she butted in with the, it’s all too hard, you can’t explain it . She argued with me until in the end I dismissed the group and went home. I spent a lot of time soul searching and decided to act the next day as if nothing had happened. I fully prepared the grammar, and eventually went back to it. I said this is simple, had a sheet prepared explained it in English and German and gave them examples to do, which they all did successfully, except of course you know who. For the next couple of weeks, I thought I was doing ok, we worked hard and there was a lot of laughter. Then came the last week……….