Inauguramos la sección CRÓNICAS del Blog con un approach en inglés a la experiencia que compartimos en el taller English Immersion. ¡Que la disfruten!
An English Chronicle
It was a long, dark Friday night. Then it was morning, time for the English workshop. The fears of not being able to wake up in time were defeated, and I was able to arrive at 11 on the dot.
To my surprise, the room was full. Almost every chair was taken. It usually takes a little longer for people to arrive, but not this time. Possibly, everybody was eager to speak English. I know I was.
Problem is, few people in the room knew each other. And that creates a little awkwardness. People keep still, not knowing what to do, how the rest are going to react. It’s as if they got frozen or something. So we needed some way to make everybody comfortable. To “break the ice”, if you will. What we needed was a game.
And the game was designed to make us mingle. I’m not a good mingler, I have to say. I tend to get up and act like I’m mingling my ass off. But in reality I do next to nothing. And not only we had to talk individually, we had to talk to two people, and move about the room while doing so.
Fortunately, no one was paying attention to what I was doing. I remembered the only time I went to church. It was in San Francisco. I guess when you travel it’s natural to try crazy things you know you’d never do at home. That particular time, the pastor made everybody say hello to ten people. It was an exercise in politeness, I suppose. I did the same thing. I stood up there, and was greeted by a few people. Not ten. I then got the hang of it and saw that it wasn’t a big deal, but by then the exercise was over, and we moved on to other things.
So I only talked to Veronica. I knew who she was, though I didn’t tell her that. I think it’s because I’m shy, but maybe I like keeping secrets from people. We had to tell each other three statements about oneself, two truths and one lie. And I was able to figure out which one of hers was false, because I knew the other two. Sneaking is fun.
The others had trouble telling which one of mine was the lie. Apparently, liking to ride the subway is something of an eccentricity. It’s very easy for me to be an eccentric, I find. Ceci’s was problematic also. She said she hated eggplant. But it was very easy for everyone to believe that. My feeling is, very few people actually like eggplant, but most say they do. It’s politically correct or something. But when they go to a restaurant, they order what they do like, like pizza.
Then it was time for the jigsaw puzzle. I never figured out why we had it. I was the one who provided it. Ceci figured I must have one, and she was right. So I chose one with a Disney picture on it. Felt right for an English language workshop.
That game involved some acting, which was hard. Some people are good at playing roles. I’m too busy playing what I think I should be like in these situations, so it’s hard to also be someone else. Someone else I didn’t even know, because the whole point was to guess what I was supposed to be at the end, based on the others’ reactions to whatever I was doing.
The breakfast was good, I have to say. There was dip, so we submerged the food in it and that made it more complete.
I think there were a couple of other games, which now enjoy a leisurely stay in oblivion. The main one was a version of charades. It was described like that. I was relieved it wasn’t charades. I’m not afraid to say I despise that game. It would be one thing if people acted out the name of a movie. But what actually happens is something else. There is a code established already. People know the meaning of certain gestures. Like pointing at one’s eye means “I”, and so forth. So instead of an exercise in creativity it becomes a reading of the gestures. Add to that my limited physical expression range, and you can see why I don’t like it. Plus it would be a bit of a waste in a workshop designed to practice conversation in another language.
We all had to write down some celebrities’ names. Then one would tell us about them, and we would guess who it was. The trick was to choose people with whom we would all have some familiarity. I chose Margaret Thatcher, which was probably off. There were safer choices. Three Beatles came up, every one but George. Poor George. It probably happened because he was the silent one, easy to overlook. But I noticed his absence, and he will be the only one I mention here. So there.
I quickly noticed (I usually am quick to notice) that we were a little short on names. I debated myself over whether to mention it. But I decided that Ceci and Charlie knew what they were doing. They usually appear to. They exude confidence.
And, sure enough, that was the idea. They planned to repeat all the names twice (for a total of three times) in order for us to establish a code. But not like the stupid Universal Charades Code that ruins its game. A spontaneous one, one that only we knew about. And thus a code was born. For the rest of the workshop, whenever someone would mention Brazil, we would think of Xuxa. Some people probably do that anyway, but they don’t know it’s a code.
And then it was over. The three hours were up. It was now afternoon. We all said our goodbyes and went on our ways. In the elevator and on the way to the door, we discussed our English for a bit. But we did it in Spanish. We didn’t wanna look like freaks.