November 18, 2015 • Los Angeles
I was invited to an ESL class at a college in Los Angeles that was using Signs Point to Yes as a class text this term. Despite the fact that it’s pure fiction, the story and the characters are Los Angeles–based, and Mason’s daily life is representative of living in this metropolis, which makes it a reasonable ESL teaching text, I think.
The best part of visiting the class was answering questions from the students; they wanted to know about things I wouldn’t have expected. “Are you psychic?” came up, and more fundamentally, “Do you believe in psychic power?” I had to answer “no” and “not sure,” respectively. “What does the title mean?” came up, and I had come prepared with a Magic 8-Ball. No one in the class had ever seen one—most are from Asian countries and Eastern Europe—with the exception of the professor, who had vague memories of it. They loved asking the ball to foretell the future, and eventually it told someone, “Signs point to yes.”
Questions also went places I hadn’t even considered: “How does Peggy play the guitar when she’s nine months’ pregnant?” I had to say, “I have no idea. But she does.” All in all, it was energizing to meet a group of engaged readers, even though they didn’t have much say in the choice of the book.