Well, I went to the school this morning and they did have a schedule made up for me. It is a good one and only a few adjustments will need to be made. I am ecstatic! Now I can really get going and, I hope, make some progress.

Trying to figure out how to teach direct and indirect speech – it’s not an easy subject, and the teacher says he’s had no success. I don’t wonder, as their vocabularies are not really up to it. I checked the ESL websites and the one instruction on every site says that you have to “back up the verb tense” which is great (??!!) since I do it naturally – but have no idea of the ranking of ‘backness’ of verbs. MEE?? Kath?? Elaine??

They do study verb tenses and so on in ESL that I don’t think you would learn in an English speaking country until Uni, which seems a bit silly, since the vocab is still so lacking. I know I learned them back in my one-room school days, but surely cannot remember much now. I *really* hope they get a printer hooked up so I can print out some rules and exercises to do.

It’s cooler and windy here today, so that’s a nice break. Unfortunately the wind from that direction brings the biting flies, like our horseflies. BUT – that natural insect repellent I got from Hempola works a charm on everything I’ve run into so far. WAHOO!! No DEET!

MT, thanks for your support too. Really nice to hear from you, Lise and Ruth with your ‘been there, done that’ wisdom. I do hope you have seen your leopard. We do have some here, but they are very elusive, and we have to put bait out by the camera to even get video of them. Hardly anyone has ever seen them ‘in person’.

Saw 4 elephants on the monitoring run yesterday. One big guy standing munching lunch in the reed bed – he came to investigate us and crossed the road about 20 feet ahead of us. I was a little nervous, since I’ve seen how fast they can move, but the monitor seemed OK with the distance, though I did notice that he had put the bakki in reverse, even though the engine was off. Then we went to the pan and saw three more. One huge adult male with two juvenile males. It was funny, because when the adult male was there, everything else stayed clear of the waterhole. As soon as he wandered away to scratch his bum on a tree (just glad it wasn’t the bakkie – the tree was pushed right over) all the other animals came out and went for a drink or a roll in the mud – they paid no mind to the juveniles even though they were almost as big.

I just can’t get over the number of birds here. We saw several that I’d never seen before while on the monitoring run yesterday. The yellow-breasted long-claw was one – his legs and feet are so delicate you wonder how they could support even a cotton ball. Then there was a crested hornbill, whose beak was big, thick and bright, bright orange. And some raptors and shrikes.

I didn’t know about shrikes liking to eat maggots. I remember from my childhood seeing them impaling their prey on thorns, and was told at that time that they would come back and eat the mouse or smaller bird when they got hungry. Apparently that’s not the case. They wait until it’s full of maggots then come and munch on those. Yuck!! I’ll stick to Frito-Lay for snacks.

One bird I’m dying to get a look at hoots all day like an owl. It’s and emerald something-or-other. There are so many new names for me to learn: people, birds, animals, trees, flowers, that I promptly forget them all, and it’s really embarrassing!!

Talking about flowers, I got a good picture I think of an tiny orchid that grows here. Almost looks like our dog toothed violet, but grows up in rotten parts of trees. Really pretty. That’s for you, Mary. I’ll get it up as soon as the equipment is back up and running.

Oh, and something I keep meaning to mention. You know you always see those pictures of African sunsets and everything looks pink?? It really is – no photo enhancement needed. The air around you gets this absolutely magical pink glow that halos the trees and bushes, and it slowly fades through a range of pinks, mauves and oranges, until, suddenly, the sun drops below the horizon and it is dark.

The English text used at my school for Grade 7 (only one copy – of most things) was, I suspect, published in about 1910 and is in bad shape, and has many pages with a big chunk out where a mouse has eaten a hole.

The children come to school after the monthly pay day with toilet paper in their pockets to use as needed. Getting toward the end of the month, there is no more toilet paper and no money to buy any, either. The school doesn’t dare buy it, even if they had the budget, I suspect, because it would disappear too quickly. No hand soap either, just a bottle of disinfectant soap kept locked in the principal’s office for use when someone has a bleeding injury. And kindergarten, Gr1 and Gr2 still have to “go” in the bushes, since shortly after the latrines were built a stray baby goat was playing in them and fell in, and it was quite a rescue operation to get him out – so now they’re afraid that the youngest children might have the same fate.

Another braai tonight. Cait and Sadie leave for England on Sunday, so a big party for them. Parties seem to be a very regular occurrence, for any or no reason – so I guess I might as well get used to it.

Hope Nic and Claire are coming. Haven’t had a chance to talk to Claire again since she kindly loaned me the Zulu/English workbooks that she uses to homeschool her kids.

Anyway, off to do more lesson planning . . .

Little orchid

Mr Yellowsocks (Nyala)



  1. elaine c said

    Hi Marilyn,

    I’m taking the liberty of copying your post to a friend (Jan Hemmings) who teaches both English and ESL to see if she might have some enlightenment.

    I’ll post back when I get a response.

    take care, and keep us all up to date!!


    Thanks so much Elaine. And ask her please, if it’s a common thing to try and teach this to ESL students who haven’t yet got the vocabulary to get through one sentence, or any understanding of standard punctuation. I’m at my wits’ end trying to figure out just what it is that’s supposed to be taught here, as I can’t get hold of the curriculum.


  2. elaine said

    Hi Marilyn,

    Hope this helps. (thanks Jan)

    “I play football”
    “I am playing football”
    “I have played football”
    “I played football”
    “I was playing football”
    “I had played football”
    “I had been playing football”
    “I will play football”
    “I can play football”

    He said (that) he played football
    He said (that) he was playing football
    He said (that) he had played football
    He said (that) he had played football
    He said (that) he had been playing football
    He said (that) he had played football
    He said (that) he had been playing football
    He said (that) he would play football
    He said (that) he could play football

    In reported speech, we usually report what was said at a different time, and so we change the tense to reflect the time which we are reporting:

    DIRECT SPEECH: “I’m not playing football”
    REPORTED LATER: He said that he wasn’t playing football

    Sometimes we need to change the pronoun

    DIRECT SPEECH: Jim: “I don’t like living here” (Jim is referring to himself)
    REPORTED SPEECH: Jim said (that) he didn’t like living here (the pronoun he refers to Jim)

    We may also need to change other words about place and time

    DIRECT SPEECH: “I like this car”
    REPORTED SPEECH: He said (that) he liked the car

    DIRECT SPEECH: “I went to Tokyo last week”
    REPORTED SPEECH: She said (that) she’d been to Tokyo the week before

    We use reported speech:
    to tell someone what another person said

    Jim says to you…

    “I don’t feel well”
    “I can’t drive”
    “My parents have gone on holiday”
    “I’m going out now so you will have to wait until I get back”

    You tell your friend what Jim said…

    Jim said (that) he didn’t feel well
    He said (that) he couldn’t drive
    He said (that) his parents had gone on holiday
    He said (that) he was going out now so I would have to wait until he got back

    If we report something which is still true, it is not necessary to change the verb

    DIRECT SPEECH: “My car is bigger than yours”
    REPORTED SPEECH: He said his car is / was bugger than mine

    When we are reporting past tenses, and we see the events from the same viewpoint as the original speaker, it is not necessary to change the tense

    DIRECT SPEECH: “The earthquake happened at half past seven”
    REPORTED SPEECH: The radio said that the earthquake happened at half past seven

    Modal verbs could, might, would, should, ought, had better usually do not change in reported speech

    DIRECT SPEECH: “I should go to the dentist”
    REPORTED SPEECH: He said that he should go to the dentist


    Debbie said…
    “I give the students comic strips from the funny pages, and they have to summarize the direct speech. There are always lots of questions, and that that makes especially good practice.”

    Gabi said…
    “I ask students to tell three secrets to a partner. Then this partner goes and tells these secrets to other people in the class (gossip). In this way, students practice reporting but in a fun way.”

    Andy said…
    “I ask students to think of a very fun sentence, they’re all in a line and the one at the end whispers his/her sentence to the one beside them, this student REPORTS the sentence to the following student, and so on. The last student says the sentence aloud and we see if they did it correctly… it is like the “telefono descompuesto” in Spanish and they also have fun.”

  3. elaine said

    Hi Marilyn,

    Jan sent along a link that I couldn’t open, and this is what she said in her response to me:

    This is off the web and is a good start. I will look at my old texts
    from Canada tomorrow. But the backing is true even in future/conditional

    He said, “I will go there if I can.”
    He said he would go there if he could.


  4. elaine said

    Hi Marilyn,

    This is the latest from Jan. Hope it helps a bit.


    I taught this to a level five class who had had one year of basic
    English speaking before they got to it. I need to go back and see if I can
    just scan the table of contents of any books, but they are all when the
    students are at the level 1 or writing! I will look tomorrow!(I said I
    would look tomorrow). Even American native speakers have trouble with the
    punctuation; who are we kidding?

    Sorry, I am running off to tutoring for now, but tomorrow! I am sending
    this to myself to remind myself!

    Happy 1917

  5. RBC said

    Boy Elaine you sure prove how hard it is to learn English!!

    * * *
    I sure don’t know how anyone learns it as a second language. It seems that other languages have rules they stick to, but we seem to have rules only so we can break them more often than keep them.

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