LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||25/SET/2007 1:59 AM|
|Assunto:||How to start an English club|
When I left the Gramado-Canela area, our club was still going.
We simply could not retain members. The Jornal de Gramado would announce the meeting, the topic of the guest speaker, etc. About 10-15 people would come. The next month the same thing would happen, but of the 10-15 present, most would be newcomers. The turnover was constant. People would call me and ask about the club, swearing on their mothers' eyes that they would come. People would stop me in the street and pledge their undying loyalty to the club. Even the Brigada Militar was interested. However, people would not get off their butts and come. They wanted to practice English, but they didn't want to have to find a parking space down at the Centro de Cultura.
I was told that it was the mentalidade gaúcha, that they did not trust new things and liked to wait until they were certain something was a success before joining. Could be. I was constantly told that it was a good idea, that it was just what the area needed, etc. I was also told that people were suspicious of anything free. If it's free, how could it be worthwhile?
We had some good speakers. A biologist gave a nice talk about local animals. We had a former Microsoft manager talk about his work and inventions. A fellow who had flown with Charles Lindbergh came to the club. He was in his 90s and had great stories. And so on.
You would think that local language schools would be interested. Not really. Sure, face to face they would say that they were sending their students, were going themselves, etc. But... Possibly they saw the club as competition (free competition). Others expressed the opinion that the schools feared the club. A student going to the club would realize how poorly he and his instructors spoke English.
It was a learning experience and I don't regret it.
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