Being cool is apparently not in my repetoire

Today a student asked me how to write a conclusion for an essay. As he is recently arrived to the United States, my explanation took place in Spanish.

(Side note: I’m not a native speaker, and my verbs can be wonky at times, like if I have a headache, or I’ve taught for seven hours straight without a break, or if I stayed up too late reading a good book and I’m too tired to think straight. You know, the usual stuff. Sometimes I slip in French or Italian words in the hope that the similarity in language families will help me and my students will recognize a cognate. When you speak four languages, sometimes it’s hard to keep them straight. Anyway, many days I feel I could have done better or that I have not done enough).

Back to my student. He needed to know what to put in a conclusion and he needed examples. And then from somewhere (maybe my extra supply of awesomeness?), I pulled out a fully formed conclusion. My verbs were perfect. There were no language cross overs. I used advanced sentence structures, and I had never sounded less like an English speaker speaking Spanish. Best of all, he even looked mildly impressed.

Then, of course, I blew it.

 “Oh, my god. Did you just hear that? I was on fire. Have you ever heard me speak that well before? I am awesome!”

I saw the moment his burgeoning respect began to vanish.

He thanked me while my other students giggled behind their hands.  

I couldn’t just play it cool.

(C) Sara Ackerman 2016

13 thoughts on “Being cool is apparently not in my repetoire

    1. I appreciate that! I was pleased how it turned out. A writer friend told me about the artist. She’s a graphic designer/novelist and has really reasonable prices. She took my ideas and made them come alive.

      1. I am if you include Pig Latin πŸ™‚ The verbs and articles in my Spanish class always left be befuddled. I could read it and speak it if reading it but to create my “own” sentence and have it be “correct” was a thing I never accomplished. So I stumble right out of the gate. But YOU are in a predicament that would definitely leave me tongue-tied. And I think that’s what makes me laugh along with you and others. You are able to be “just like us” in spite of your accomplishments and gifts and that makes you “cool.” A lot of people can speak English just fine until they have to say supercalafragalisticexpialadocious. Now what would that word sound like in 3 different languages? No, you were undoubtedly “awesome” and did something not only yourself but others would be rooting for you do. It was like a figure skater getting all sevens and I see those with perfect or near perfect performances smiling and saying “Yes! I did it!” How easy it is to hit a rut in the ice or land wrong and take a fall in front of everyone. How rare are those moments when everything goes just right. You, in your extraordinary abilities, make yourself relateable to us when your prowess shines and you surprise yourself and we love it. πŸ™‚

      2. What a clever metaphor. I have never thought of it in terms of athletics before. I suppose because my own athletic talents are nonexistent. Not that I mind; life would be so dull if we all excelled at the same thing. You may bemoan your less than stellar skills in Spanish but your thoughtful comments revealed your talent. I think you have the rare ability to hold up a mirror to the ordinary so that others may see the beautiful possibilities within their grasp. Now that is truly a talent worth admiring. Thanks for reading!

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