Friday, July 28, 2006

Today, the youngest of my students, a boy about 10, cut out heads of men and glued them to the bodies of women--we were making collages. Then, he put all these images on a piece of bright yellow construction paper and wrote: "why not try something new?" He showed me his collage, but wouldn't allow me to put it up on the wall. He carefully removed all of the pictures and put them in his backpack. "For home," he said. "For wall."

No, I don't think younger students are easier to teach--at least not for me. I don't think they have more curiosity than adults. School is school. They're not excited about English grammar any more than they will be when they're 29. Or if they are, they're nerds like me who will be teachers, and one day they'll speak energetically about the political implications of passive voice....

I'm always interested in the ways that personality always comes through in an ESOL class. In some ways, one might think that people's personalities would be hidden because they cannot fully articulate themselves English. But I often find it's the opposite. Or, at least, that whatever personality they have when they speak English is always very unmediated. Jokes and cynicism take a long time to learn.

Although I've been making endless jokes about nato (maybe with two ts?)--fermented beans. It's a food that my Japanese students either seem to really love or hate. Every time I say nato, my students think it's funny.

8 comments:

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Good Lord, this post has a lot of typos. After a week teaching ESOL, my empathy for students screws with my language.

Jessica Smith said...

i don't think anyone's petty enough to complain about grammar on a blog, are they?

i find my inability to make sarcastic remarks in other languages very frustrating. most of my speech, especially in public situations like Class, is sarcastic. i'm stuck with saying shit like, "mein haar ist blond." or trying to do things with the grammar to make it gender-neutral or trying to make puns that only work in english.

mike said...

I don't know, I don't know much Arabic (yet) but have already made a pretty good arabic joke about the difference between an Egyptian Arabic pick-up line and and Iraqi Arabic line.

François said...

It's spelled "natto." Pronounce it "nat-to." I don't think "nato" means anything in Japanese. I could be wrong of course.

I'm not a fan of natto. It's a bit too sweet.

Ian Keenan said...

I can’t be sarcastic in other languages, which is fine, because what I want most is to get away from my own sarcasm. It’s amazing how different the world is when I’m not being sarcastic all the time.

mike said...

I ate natto one time. Are you refering to the japanese treat of fermenting soy beans? Smells like sweaty socks? Looks like lumpy mucus? It's not too bad.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Scarcasm and irony can come through in a foreign language. We were practicing "what is...?" questions, and I asked one of my students, "What is your favorite color?" His favorite color is obviously black. He only wears black. Not even brown or navy. He laughed when I asked him and then said (with a straight face), "my favorite color is orange."

That particular student's favorite band is also "Mr. Children." I got lucky with that student, because my lone "Mr. Children" CD is the only surviving CD I have left from my Japanese music binge a long time ago in Singapore. So I could say, "Oh yeah, 'Brand new my lover' is a good song." He was shocked.

My other Japanese students love J-Pop, but I can't get any specific names out of them. And one of my students has an interest in Bob Marley.

I need all the cool points I can get, being such a total nerd.

I've never had Natto.

François said...

OH, yeah. Mr. Children. I haven't seen that name in a long time.

BUCK-TICK also has a song titled "Brand New my lover."