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Learning to Crawl

"Mr. Bob," the ringleader of my Kazakhs said to me this morning, "why you no teach grammar?"

We'd been working for about half an hour on putting adjectives together with nouns. I asked him what he meant and he could only come up with the same question again.

I wrote this on the board:

noun + adjective = grammar

He wasn't convinced. So I wrote "3rd Conditional", "Present Progressive", "Passive Voice" and "Past Perfect Tense" on the board.

"Is this the grammar you want to learn?"

"What's a tense?" he asked.

I smiled and said "as soon as you master adjectives and nouns, we'll work on tenses, okay?"

He nodded.

"So tell me, does an adjective come before or after a noun?"

"What means before and after?" one of them asked.

I wanted to say you have to learn the basics before you can learn the complex stuff, but I wrote numbers instead. 1, 2, and 3. One comes before two. Three comes after one, etc.

And then I wrote this on the board ...

run before/after walk

Pointing to the slashed words in the center, I asked them to pick the right one.

After some fantastic miming, we got the right answer, and checked meaning with days of the week and months in the year.

And then I drew a line from "walk" to "noun + adjective = grammar" and a different colored line from "run" to "present progressive".

The ringleader smiled and said, "I understand." His wife sighed, said "walk first" and then whispered something to him in Russian.

Later in the day, they asked if I could be their only teacher, rather than have their day split between me and one of the more senior (and very well respected / published) instructors.

I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

Tomorrow we're revising how to tell time. He'll hate that ... but it is grammar.

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