I like cooking. Scratch that. I love cooking. I`m a self-taught cook, graduating from `jar of spaghetti sauce + pasta + grated cheese = voila Italian food!` to my mother asking me for my recipes and passing them off as her own. Admittedly, I`m very fond of one-pot/bowl cooking, where you mix everything together in one pot/bowl and then cook. Very easy. Anything involving pastry, french (the language, ie choux cream) or ingredients that cost more than 500yen/100g and have to be imported from Africa is out. Anything that takes more than 30mins preparation time is out. I don`t julienne my carrots, cucumbers or anything else. In short, I`m a very lazy cook.
But a good cook. I made my boyfriend gain 8kg in about a month, so that`s gotta say something!
So what could be more exciting than teaching my students to cook in English! Some students get very casual, once a month cooking lessons, including lots of new kitchen-related vocabulary. (What does `broil` mean anyway???) But one in particular, in her early 50`s, had never cooked. (Her mother and her husband did all the cooking in her house.) She was stuck on the idea that she couldn`t cook. Rubbish! Another student had started to teach her how to make dessert (ie chiffon cake, tiramisu etc) and she was getting excited. Not only was she making stuff herself, but her family would eat it!! (I ate her cake once, it was good!)
So we decided we would do cooking lessons, for dinner foood. I think we`re on our 10th recipe now, every Sunday night she cooks for her family and there have been no complaints yet. She feels great because she has proved she can cook, and her family loves it. I feel great because she feels great, and because other people are enjoying my recipes. (I will run a restaurant some day!! *laughing* or otherwise I`ll just write a cookbook…. probably easier!)
But what this post comes back to is the dreaded `I can`t….`
My students know better than to say `I can`t speak English` in front of me. They know I will throw things at them. (Mark, Martin, I promise I have never thrown anything at a student….) I don`t know if you know/remember `The Little Engine That Could`, but basically it`s a childrens story about a little red steam train that had to climb up a hill. And he did it by repeating `I think I can… I think I can….` (insert power of positive thinking speech here). You can do anything you want to (well, almost anything. Men still can`t give birth, not sure if they`d want to really but…) you just need to think positively.
So when one of your students who used to say `I can`t….` turns around and says `I can`, it doesn`t matter if it`s speaking English or cooking or tying their own shoes, it`s a wonderful feeling. It doesn`t matter how grammatically incorrect their English is, they have the confidence to communicate. And that`s where it all starts…