Friendship & Family Tutoring, One-on-One
MENG 6410, Weber State University, Patricia HillSpring Semester, 2010

My first meeting with Wafaa included meeting the rest family. Of course I spoke with Khalid first on the phone. He was not difficult to understand which was a good sign. I figured since he was fairly fluent with his English, then he would be an excellent example for her when she practiced.

It was at this time that I also met her two daughters, Reem who is 4 ½, and Raghad who is almost one year old. Reem has spent time at the daycare up on the university campus at Weber State, so she is becoming pretty good at speaking in English. Boy, how I envy the “putty pliable” brain of a child. Raghad, being so young, clung to her mother throughout most of the sessions we had. This was a great distraction to me as a teacher, but more importantly it was a distraction to Wafaa as the student.

Wafaa has made remarkable progress which only goes to show the immense amount of desire she has to be able to speak English. She’s also very intelligent. Khalid has said a couple of times that she, Wafaa, was only able to go to about the 7th grade in her country. He said circumstances prevented her attending any more than that. I didn’t want to pry, so I never found out what the circumstances were. Did she marry too young? Was her family so poor that she had to work? What? I’ll probably never know! I do know that she’s 21 years old with a child that’s almost 5. She has so much potential ahead of her! Learning English will increase her value in the eyes of her husband and of course it will help her adapt in our society.

As I mentioned in my presentation, we had several obstacles. The main two were the girls, especially the baby, Raghad, and the television, which was always on blaringly loud! Also, because of illness and personal time conflicts which we both had, we were not able to meet as often as we had planned. Our original plan had been to meet every Tuesday and Friday. Even with the many missed dates, we still managed to meet 15 times. The thing I find most interesting was that her husband was there every single time except for once when he had taken the girls to the playground, and he didn’t get back in time for the lesson; and the last time we met, when he had a difficult time getting back from the pharmacy. It was almost as if he was afraid to leave us alone, for fear that I might teach her something bad. It was’nt as if he did very much interpreting for us. We pretty much finagled our way through as we learned!

Anyway, Wafaa learned the alphabet and their accompanying basic sounds. She learned the months of the year and at least one American holiday that will help her remember each month. She learned about yesterday, today and tomorrow, along with past, present, and future. We have been working with conjugating a variety of verbs with a variety of nouns. Ex: I, you, he, she, they, we sing, etc. We’ve focused on words that she felt she would actually use. We’ll go on to others as she progresses and the need arises.

I thinks the most memorable times for me were those we spent singing. I enjoyed this because it involved the little girls also. Reem loved to sing, and no matter where she was in the apartment, she would come out to join us. Raghad was also easily calmed when I started singing. IThat was when she would want for me to hold her. Once she even wanted to go home with me. I thought for sure that if I took her outside she would begin to cry, but she didn’t! It was when I returned her to her father, Khalid, and I started to leave, that she cried.

At one of our last meetings, Raghad was especially cranky. It seemed like no matter what it was that Khalid or Wafaa did, could pacify her. Suddenly, Wafaa picked her up, and gently cradeled her in her arms, then bagan to sing, “There was a farmer, had a dog, and Bingo was his name-oh. B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, and Bingo was his name-oh.” Finally, Raghad smiled and started clapping her hands. It wasn’t a nice calming, soothing lullaby. But it was something she recognized, and it did calm her.