Sunday, March 2, 2014
By: Michelle Markowitz
It has been about two months since I began tutoring after school with ENP. The teacher and I review grammar with the high school students and practice reading comprehension by reading various books and stories. Sometimes the girls we work with need help with homework or a specific task. Today, the girls asked to use our time together to review for their upcoming English test. Among the things they asked to review were the present perfect tense, gerunds, and a story from their workbook. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when the girls asked to review gerunds, because I had personally taught them gerunds only a few weeks ago, and they seemed like they understood.
We reviewed the present perfect, which we had talked about in December when I first began working with the girls, and we read the story from their book together. As always, the girls impressed me with their knowledge of and familiarity with English. Finally, it was time to review gerunds—I was nervous to see what they remembered.
The teacher wrote the first sentence on the board, and asked the girls to complete the sentence using the gerund form of the verb. One of the girls immediately called out the correct answer and was able to explain that a gerund is a verb that uses “ing” and becomes a noun when used in a sentence (ex: “Swimming is fun” instead of “I like to swim”). Two of the girls leaned over to look at me and said “you taught us that!” I couldn’t help smiling from ear to ear, beaming proudly that the girls remembered what we had worked on!
As the girls finished up their worksheets for the afternoon and began to pack up their books, one of the girls thanked us sincerely, from her heart. “Thank you so much,” she said “What would I do without you? I really mean it.” She also called me a tzadikah (literally: a righteous person) for helping her create flashcards during the class. The other girls chimed in with thanks as well, and we wished them luck on their exam. While each week is rewarding, and provides me an ongoing opportunity to get to know the girls I work with and to develop meaningful relationships with them, it is sometimes nice to have experiences like this, which remind me why I am volunteering in the first place.