Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bloody Sunday


I love Sunday mornings.

I think it is my favorite day of the week.

Just Sunday morning.

(Dinah Washington Sunday Morning,

not Etta James Sunday morning).

I have not been blogging because I have just had a house dropped on my head. This summer is my formal but unorganized introduction to applied linguistics. So far I have gone through 3 weeks of graduate school, which has been great in terms of meeting people with similar experiences as me. The number of world travellers in my classes is comforting, and so is that collective and uneasy culture shock that lingers with us from 6 years in Thailand, 9 months in Brazil, or a brief love affair in Japan after finishing up university in Hong Kong. We all seem to have itchy feet.

The feat of applying certain linguistic concepts (These concepts are not really related to the type of stuff I did 14 years ago with cultural theorists, it is more concerned with function. It is the end product of a certain pedagogical analysis that looks at both the surface structures and deep structures found in learning a sequence of patterns.) is far harder than actually learning it. The majority of my students are Spanish speakers, and so are the majority of bilingual instructors in the program. I believe I am the only fluent German speaker, but I feel that my Deutsch skills are waning as time goes by. I speak fine, but my ability to use more cognitive skills in translating a text or reading academic writing (always hard in German) seems to be seeping into the Hudson.

After certification, the age of my possible students may range from five to 20, and many may never have had a formal education. This basically means that they have never sat at a desk all day in their entire lives, nor have they received information in such a manner. On top of that, their intelligence may lie elsewhere, which reminds me of the kids form Appalachia in my first grade class who could tell you the name of trees and birds as if they were reading a book printed on the blue sky. Or friends of mine who can make music with the ease and solace of a confectionerie's solitary mistress mixing and rolling truffles with a sticky right hand.

So, needless to say, the field work that I have been participating in has been interesting. I am just afraid that my artistic endeavours are suffering because I am starting to break down language and codes into very basic parts. The social problems of signs and signifiers is a subject that comprised the majority of my Infamous University experience; but studying it as a set of required verbal exercises and orthographic markings meant for providing all the neccesities of life to my young students make me feel as if I have walked into the ritual of language. I am working with the most basic of human instincts, which is to communicate -- I am learning to relate to the human experience, not as a full grown man, but from the eyes of a child. To apply theory in this way is rounding out my world and pushing my own intellect into other dimensions. Salt of the Earth. Soil. Tiling. Chocolate Ding Dongs. Hall Passes. Bells. Factor Trees. Crips. Bloods. Flagging. Testing. Testing. And More Testing.


Z said...

Do you remember learning how to talk?
I do - it was interesting, but difficult and frustrating. But I think this is why I have the patience to learn foreign languages: I remember that acquiring the first language was slow and sort of hellish, but that it got easier the longer I stayed immersed.

Littlemilk said...

No, I don't remember acquiring the words, but I do remember pointing.

And, I remember my mother used my favorite song, Melba Moore's This Is It, to help me form my first sentence on paper when I was three. Then I was off to the races.

Strangely enough, yesterday we were talking about Dominican and Southern food and I proudly exclaimed that my father used to feed us pig ears, and that I remember trying to chew them with my only set of four teeth positioned in the front of my mouth standing in my booster chair.

Must have been in my linguistic pre-production phase.

At the time I thought pig ears were interesting, and better sprinkled with pepper and salt than boiled alone.

andey said...

This is very very confusing. Yet interesting.

You can have memory even if you cannot command the words to make up for a mythical long-lost laguage.

It's yet more interesting to have language, current and past, on recordings. In the shape of tape, it makes up good Christmas and Halloween motives.

Good bongey one, Professor Acero and Bleached Whale.

... ...

Z said...

Baleine, that is amazing, remembering when you had only 4 teeth! I remember teething but I do not remember what it was like to have only 4 teeth.

Littlemilk said...

That is an interesting thought andey.

I don't remember talking or articulating this memory through language, I remember the sensation. I think I might have bitten my tongue, or had to get used to eating tough food that my father was giving me. Possibly table food I should not have been having.

I remember him giving my sister peanuts when she had only four teeth also, and she had a stern look of concentration on her face while chewing.

Professor Zero said...

I remember noticing, when I was acquiring language, how it was changing my experience. I had memories that were only sense memories, not articulated through language, and then other more recent memories, often of the same or similar events, now articulated through language. I marveled at how the acquisition of language had changed both the memory and the experience itself.

andey said...

I remember being an obedient thing myself at 3. Memory may be a tricky thing.

You only learn to spell at 5, it is said, but suddenly it seems that with early education memories might possibly be recorded. There are many ways to remember. And none of them need overlap. Or maybe they do need overlap for them to be clear.

andey said...

Btw, does that show on Facebook profiles?

Cero said...

"Just Sunday morning."

Good point. I do not like Sunday afternoon or evening unless I do something special. So I end up not liking the whole day. But the mornings are great, I am going to pay them more attention, magnify, amplify. :-)

John K said...

So where are you studying these days? How goes that screenplay/play you were working on? Wie geht's?

Littlemilk said...

That damn screenplay has been following me from house to house, continent to continent for years. I have not worked on it much because I was busy this past year trying to settle into a path.

I originally came back to NYC to become an ESL teacher. Because of some paperwork and communications bumps (this word has new meaning after the mining fiasco) I had to wait to start the program a year later. Which was fine. I tried to apply to a grad. program at an Ivory institution during this off time, but it just did not workout, though I learned somethings about myself in the process.

So, now I am at Lehman College in the Bronx. It is great. I like going to school in the community that I both study and want to serve. So my course work is for a MA in Education for teaching ESL. It is nice. I would not have gotten to know linguistics and the rules of language acquisition in such a formalized way if I went on for a Ph.D. in History. So, things are changing for me in a very measured pace.

I wish I had time to write creatively, but the past two years have been about something else all together different. I started another blog called Beached Bones to jump start my heart concerning writing and NYC . . . the way it used to be for me.

Aber, da gibts mehr zu meiner Geschicte. Spaeter machen wir Zeit zu sprechen. Wann reisst Du nach der Tri-State?