If you see me more jovial and genial than of late, if I offer you a bite of my matutinal cheese scone from the campus caff or if, Lord love us, I even smile at you before mid-morning, this is because Group C (of three) is disbanded and its less talented denizens cast to the winds, with a fol-lol-lol and hey-nonny-nonny. Nobody could say they hadn’t been warned, although that is indeed what some of them did say. The course director had given them the hard word several weeks ago, but they saw it as bollockings and rumours of bollockings, and were not troubled, thinking the time was not yet. Which goes to show how wrong you can be.
Tests were administered and marked last week, and six out of ten Group C types dive-bombed spectacularly. No surprises there. A week before, we did a practice listening test, one of many. One part of this featured two women discussing local health centres, and questions such as the following were to be answered:
1. No. of doctors at Letsby Avenue Centre: ………………….
2. No of doctors at Upper Knocker-Down St. Centre: ………………….
Like a good IELTS exam prep teacher, I elicited that the answer would be a number. A number. So we listened to the dreary twaddle on the C.D., actors doing their Two Cunts in a Kitchen dialogue with anus-winking stage accents:
Mrs A: (Antipodean, sort of.) Will, these the Letsby Avenue cintre, that’s ILL-EE-TEA, ISS-BEE-WOY. Plus Avenue, as in Shaaaaftesbury. It’s aunlie tin minnets a-why. They have farve doctors thee.
Mrs B: (Writing this down, in R.P.) Lets…be…a…ven…you. Ten minutes away, you said? Goodness, that’s really convenient, isn’t it? And there are six doctors there, you say?
Mrs A: Now, now, now, not six! I said farve. Farve! Thit's the number that comes efter fore.
Mrs B: Oh, five! Gosh. (Chucklesomely at such silly-me-ishness) Sorry! Golly, I really will have to get used to a variety of regional accents, won’t I?
Everyone completed question 1. with ‘ten minutes’. Is number, no? You say us is number - why it's wrong?
There was a review board this morning where the fails could put their case if they thought they still had a leg to stand on. Amazingly, after failing pretty much every test since last October and showing every sign of regression rather than progress, all six showed up defiantly.
‘Did Hassan go without a fight?’ I asked the course director after lunch.
‘None of them went without a fight,’ she said.
Predictably, their failure was entirely our fault. Five teachers over eight months had been of no help to them. Our teaching is ineffective and our testing inequitable: that we had allowed them extra time for the reading test and a second hearing of the listening had served merely to confuse them. The question then is, why the fuck do you want to come back, if you have decided we are such a bunch of klutzes? Gotcha!
So now the four remaining Group C students are in a new class with a few new Saudi blokes, four new Chinese ladies and a cute, pleasingly compact Thai lad with a name as long as your arm, obligingly abbreviated to Tom. Today was pretty hard work, but there was none of the feeling of pissing into the wind or pushing a heavy truck up a hill that I’ve had every Thursday and Friday for the last eight months. This explains the unwonted sunniness of my disposition.