I am helping produce an ESL newsletter for our school. Every Wednesday I teach a study club for an hour and a half, where I perch on tables in our fifth-floor lunch room with a cluster of would-be journalists to talk about writing. Each month we produce one issue for the following month.
The longer I work with international students, the bigger kick I get out of the way we all (not just ESL learners) communicate. Here's a sampling of our current headlines and stories:
DUSTIN: MMM, HIS STUDENTS, AND JUICY
(an "in-depth" interview with a teacher about March Mustache Madness, with a reference to a Dating Game play we performed a few weeks ago, in which a fellow male coworker dressed in drag as a girl named 'Juicy')
RUSSIA: WELCOME TO OUR 11 TIME ZONES
THE ART OF CORALINE
DR. NICK & HIS NURSE
(this is our version of "Dear Abby," as written by a Chinese kid who wants to be a psychologist, and his sarcastic Brazilian friend)
and, one of my personal favorites, a student comic which depicts a group of pigeons trying to speak English.
I forgot how much of a better human being I am when I get to do creative things. Our newsletter has been a big success, and I have learned so much by the sheer force of student enthusiasm. Not only that, but in between registering students in classes, grading level tests, organizing orientation materials, and answering the phone, I can also devote a healthy amount of time to a group project that actually students together, in English.
Writing has always been my indoor bird, the fierce and forgotten passion that keeps banging itself against the window. Maybe one day it will open. I want to write and be inspired and offer creative ideas. It's taken me a little while to realize that banging my head against my own windows--comparing myself to others, worrying about the rent, failing to find the time to write and read--is the act of creative expression itself. I'm so grateful to recognize that there's a window there in the first place.
In the meantime, I inadvertently pick up ESL grammatical mistakes, and get to show students exactly how expressive they are, and can be.