Language Lab Log

Scott Gardner

April 12: First day of my language lab assignment. Reporting for duty! <smile> Today I brought six giant grammar/vocab reference books with me from my office, thinking I would put them to good use, but only one student came in, and he just wanted help pronouncing Welsh place names for his homestay next month.

April 19: A few more students showed up. I counted eight. I thought they had come to join my one-month grammar mini-course, which started today (First class: “I’m Loving Stative Verbs”), but it turned out they were all meeting for Scrabble Club. I managed to snag one of them for my class, Hanako, who got ostracized from SC for chewing on the tiles.

April 26: Eleven students today. Numbers improving! One asked me about historical uses of the word “zamboni.” I pulled out the V-Z volume of the OED and the whole bookshelf collapsed. I guess a long time ago somebody decided to save money by making the entire bookshelf out of 22 volumes of Oxford English Dictionary. Who knew? I needed three students to help me set it back up.

May 3: Nobody showed up today. Checked calendar and saw it was Golden Week. My bad.

May 10: At least 25 students today! I felt kind of popular, at least for a while. They were all asking me, “What’s your favorite TV sitcom?” We had a nice chat about the classic “Mork and Mindy,” where Robin Williams plays an alien who sits on his head. Then somebody let it slip that Mr. Ratowski had assigned “American sitcoms” for class homework and had suggested I would be in the lab specifically to answer questions on the subject. I feel used.

May 17: Seven students. Did my last grammar class today: gerund vs infinitive. I asked Hanako, the sulky Scrabble Club exile, for a sample sentence. She said, “Taking his class was her greatest regret.” The others all snickered but I thought she got it right.

May 24: Five. We had a fire drill today. I guess I missed the memo. I’m in the middle of a voiced dental fricative tutorial and suddenly the alarms go off (nearly bit off my own tongue!) and everyone has to pretend the building is on fire and go down four flights of stairs to stand outside and wait for instructions. Still, at least it wasn’t raining. Lovely weather for an evacuation. While we were out, the bookshelf fell down again. This time I guess it was a gust of wind from the door we left open.

May 31: Nine, if you count the three or four who just came in for coffee. BTW, the “cups for coins” honor system isn’t working. Cups are disappearing but coins aren’t replacing them. Even worse, I found a Scrabble tile in the money jar.

June 7: It’s war! Scrabble Club have commandeered my favorite corner table. It’s like they own the place! I complained to the department chair but I guess she’s also the Scrabble Club adviser. I’m trying to reclaim the corner by rallying together a few students who’ll take my side—like Hanako, maybe, but she hasn’t been coming since she joined the shogi club. (Oh yeah, 12 today, most of whom I now count among my enemies.)

June 14: Four. Bookshelf again. Somebody was trying to re-alphabetize the old phonics videocassettes, when suddenly it all came down. The OED A-B volume flew so far it broke a window. I’m tempted to put up a big sign that says, “Warning: under no circumstances are you to read the books on this bookshelf.”

June 21: Seventeen. I’m being reassigned. Debate club. Department chair says she’s been getting complaints about me, and she thinks maybe exercises in spirited argumentation would suit my attitude better. Fine by me. I’ll let Ratowski do battle with those Sniveling Scrabblers.