I was NOT going to fall asleep!

Tamuna Gabelia teaches English at the British Council; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Susanna and I visited Tamuna Gabelia’s class. Tamuna is one of our Georgian “daughters” and she teaches English at the British Council on Rustaveli. At 6pm a bell rang throughout the building and Tamuna immediately began her rapid-fire instruction. DoIhavetwohandsopen?DoIhavetwohandsopen?No,one handisopenbuttheotherisclosed. Every question is repeated twice. The logic is that students understand the meaning the first time, and they understand the structure/grammar upon the second hearing. The six students in the class were paying careful attention, in part because at any moment Tamuna might ask them a question and they would need to respond precisely. The 50-minute class moves quickly—there were probably almost 10 sections of 5 minutes each. No time to get bored; no time for your mind to drift. Howmanychildrendoyourfatherandmotherhave?Howmanychildrendoyourfatherandmotherhave?Myfatherandmotherhavetwochildren.

Tamuna is proof that this method of teaching English works. She was a student at the British Centre, and in no time, she has become a teacher. She teaches 8 hours three times a week, and 6 hours three times a week. For those who try to avoid math, Tamuna is speaking continuously, while e-nun-ci-a-ting precisely, 42 hours a week. She’s exhausted at the end of the day, but for now, she loves teaching English.

I never noticed the thin wire on the wall behind my seat. Why should I? It looks like one of an iPod’s earbuds, and there are loose wires sticking out of many walls in Tbilisi. But this one is significant. The managers at the British Council can listen in while teachers conduct their classes. Teachers must be careful to keep the classes moving—no chitchat. So both teachers and students are always on their toes.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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