And how did I end up doing this, well you may ask, as I am (to paraphrase Dr. McCoy) dammit Jim, a scientist, not an English professor? No good deed goes unpunished, apparently. I'm chair of our departmental post-doc seminar committee (that sounds impressive, but it's one of those jobs that gets given to the jr. staff because it's a pain), and I have made a habit of having a debriefing after each person's talk, going over what worked, what didn't and how the presentation could be improved. I've also been known to do the same for post-docs about to go out and give a job seminar. For foreign post-docs (which, sadly, now comprise the majority), this includes help with their English. News of this filtered up the food chain, and the Institute Chair (who happens to have someone in his lab who is now taking the course) thought it would be a grand idea to offer help with English to the wider Institute community, and, since I was already doing this (sort of) for my department, and since I'm not teaching this year otherwise (having been given a sabbatical because of my illness), wouldn't I consider doing this while they decide whether it would be a good idea to hire an actual teacher of English (and oh, BTW isn't it time for your mid-term review soon)? Yep, that's right: blackmail. Academia - what's not to like? ::snort::
So here are these poor people, expecting someone who actually knows how to teach English and getting someone who has a great deal of enthusiasm for the subject, but no clue how to start. I spent a lot of time going over ESL websites, combing the library for ideas and working feverishly to try to put something together that seems coherent and won't be a waste of anyone's time, but still feels as if it's been thrown together from five feet away. Ugh. Class seemed to go OK today, but then the Georgian student threw me for a loop (note to self: add 'threw me for a loop' to list of idiomatic expressions). "Something I am confused over," he said. "If plural of mouse is mice and plural of louse is lice, why is not plural of house hice?" Ideas, anyone?