English tenses

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English tenses

Postby nikita » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:21 pm

Hello there.

The last posting at
reminded me of an piece from English Streamline Direction, which is taken from "Weep Not, Child" by N'gugi. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did when I read it a few years ago.


Lucia, Mwihaki's sister, taught them. The all set expectantly at their desk with eyes on the board. A knowledge of English was the criterion of a man's learning.

Teacher: I am standing. What am I doing?
Class: You are standing up.
Teacher: Again.
Class: You are standing up.
Teacher: (pointing with a finger) You - no - you - yes. What's your name?
Pupil: Njoroge.
Teacher: Njoroge, stand up.

He stood up. Learning English was all right but not when he stood up for all eyes to watch and maybe make faces at him.

Teacher: What are you doing?
Njoroge: (thinly) You are standing up.
Teacher: (slightly cross) What are you doing?
Njoroge: (clears his throat, voice thinner still) You are standing up.
Teacher: No, no! (to the class) Come on. What are you, you doing?

Njoroge was very confused. Hands were raised up all around him. He felt more and more foolish so that in the end he gave up the very attempt to answer.

Teacher: (pointing to Mwihaki) Stand up. What are you doing?
Mwihaki: (head bent on to one shoulder) I am standing up.
Teacher: Good. Now, Njoroge. What is she doing?
Njoroge: I am standing up.

The class giggled.

Teacher: (very annoyed) Class, what is she doing?
Class: (singing) You are standing up.
Teacher: (still more angry) I am asking you ... What is she doing?
Class: (afraid, quietly singing) You are standing up.
Teacher: Look here you stupid and lazy fools. How long do you take to catch things? Didn't we go over all this yesterday? If I come tomorrow and find that you make a single mistake I'll punish you all severely.

With this sharply-delivered threat, she walked out. Njoroge, annoyed with himself at his poor showing, could now be heard trying to re-establish himself by telling them that they ought to have answered. 'She is standing up.' But one boy (the most stupid in the class) rebuked him. 'Why didn't you speak up when she was here, if you're so clever?'

After some more weeks of anger and threats the children managed to glean something of which they were very proud. Njoroge could now sing.

I am standing up.
You are standing up.
She is standing up.
He is standing up.
We are standing up.
You are standing up.
They are standing up.
Where are you going?
I am going to the door.
We are going to the door.

Point to the blackboard. What are you doing?
I am pointing to the blackboard.


See you.

Nikita Kovalyov

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