Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Interesting pricing strategies

Sometimes it’s a little difficult to understand retail pricing strategies. For example:

The other day I got a call from a friend as she was in the drive-through line at Jack in the Box. A small soda was $1.49, a medium was $1.89 and a large was $1.79. She wanted to know which one I thought she should buy.

At a local teacher supply store, I found dry-erase markers for $.99 each, or 4 for $5.00.

And the family favorite – Years ago, Mom was at the grocery and noticed that two half-gallon jugs of milk cost less than a single one-gallon jug. She asked a store employee why that was. The employee promptly replied, “Oh, it’s because the gallons are on sale.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Accent marks

And then there was the Spanish 104 student who refused to use accent marks. I reminded her more than once that they were a part of Spanish spelling and that I took off 0.25 points for each accent mark error.

She explained that she simply didn't like them and said I couldn't make her use them.

It's the only time I've met someone with a genuine negative emotional reaction to a diacritic. It wouldn't surprise me if she had some other quirks as well.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


This morning as I was heading to class, one of my former students caught up with me and offered me her old textbook from the class. She asked me to please give it to a poor student who couldn't afford the cost of the book.

This is the second time one of my ESL 100 students has done that, and I think it's a very kind thing for one student to do for another. It's truly giving with no thought of return, just to help another person in a difficult situation and make it a little easier for that person to be successful in class.

ESL 100 - Day 1

Today was the first day of ESL 100 for Summer 2010. I have 23 students on the roster; 19 showed up today. I don't know if the others will drop or if they will show up next week.

The class has students from the following countries (one each unless indicated):
Somalia (4)
India (3)
Dominican Republic

So far, it looks to be a pretty great class.

We're doing something a little different with the curriculum, so it will be a learning process for everyone in the classroom. But then again, it's always a learning process. I learn something every quarter -- about the students, about the world, about my teaching... Just one of the many reasons I enjoy it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What floor was that again?

OK - Just one more Welcome Back Table story for this term.

A student asked what floor Room 315 was on; I told him it was on the third floor and pointed toward the elevators.

A moment later I looked over to where he was more or less hanging out of the elevator, holding it open and waving to get my attention so he could ask me, "Did you say Room 315 was on the first floor or the second floor?"

Yes, we were already on the first floor.

Finding their way

Those of us who work the Welcome Back table at the beginning of each quarter have learned to accept that we will have a surprising number of students ask questions such as "What floor is Room 212 on?" And the vast majority of those who ask ARE native speakers of English. They tend to be young (although not all of them are) and somehow have not grasped that in the U.S., at least, *most* buildings have the 100s on the first floor, 200s on the second floor, and so on.

As I said, they are young, but they are still adults, which means they've probably had the opportunity to be in multi-story buildings before. So why have they not made this connection before they reached adulthood? Is it a lack of ability to observe? Difficulty with critical thinking? Insecurity when going to a new place?

There is probably a combination of these elements at work in most of these students, which is yet another indication of the failure of their prior education to prepare them for what would come after high school. If they can just manage to find the right room on the right floor, maybe they will be able to overcome that past and move upward.

As long as there is someone available to point them in the direction of the elevator.

A great new word

I recently heard a wonderful new word -- pandelirium, as in "You can't believe what this week has been! It was absolute pandelirium around here!" It was clear that the meaning is a combination of pandemonium and delirium. It's an excellent example of a portmanteau word, and I think it's a keeper. It's wonderfully expressive.

Noo Summer Camp

Just after reading a friend's post about her son's summer camp, I happened to notice this on my grocery receipt:  "Camp Chicken Noo".

The knowledge that it referred to the soup I had bought didn't keep me from wondering just what kind of activities there might be at Camp Chicken Noo.

Could be an interesting place.