A Problem and A Milestone


FOURTH in a series about helping refugees learn English. Here, students have a problem differentiating between HAVE and WANT and NEED. The same could be said for all of us, I suppose.

I walk around with a box of freshly sharpened pencils.

“Do you WANT/NEED a pencil?”
“No, Tee-cha.”
But when I pass them by, they jump up and reach into the box.

I come at it the other way.
“Do you HAVE a pencil?”
“Yes, Tee-cha.”
But when I pass them by, they jump up and reach into the box.

So something needs to happen with ‘have,’ ‘want’ and ‘need.’
That’ll be my homework this weekend, thinking that one through.

* * *

Meanwhile, today, a milestone. A student said my name!

There have been attempts in the past. I’ve caught them flying by on a breeze.

then the quick retreat to “Tee-cha!”

It’s a difficult name –  3 syllables, plus that tricky ‘r’ rolling into a short “i” before the uphill climb to the “l,” which some want to pronounce as an ‘r.’


But yesterday, while I sat sharpening pencils before class, a student here 4 months entered. Across the room, from a distance of 20 feet, she waved and called to me, straight out and bold as can be, “Hello, Mar-i-CAN.”

Like ‘American,’ but drop the first syllable.

That’s the closest anyone has come.
I’ll count it as a win. 🙂

* * *

Click to see ALL the Refugee Posts

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in languages, perseverance, refugees. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Problem and A Milestone

  1. pastordt says:

    This is such good work you do, Marilyn. And carving out distinctions between those verbs??? GOOD LUCK.


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