Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 25

If I sometimes hate my job, it's not from boredom. Other days, I love it.

This morning started with a class of eight girls who were very dubious at first about speaking English with a native speaker at 8am, but by the end of the class they were hard at work trying to set me up with another single teacher. That they referred to him as a "vampire" can only be a good thing in this Twilight day and age. . . right? Meantime, the prize-winning question of the hour was, "Why do Americans say 'oh my god' all the time?" No answer, but they decided it was like "voila quoi," a French expression that also means practically nothing. Still unresolved was my claim that there are more vegetarians in America than in France -- surely you can't be a vegetarian if your entire country runs on hamburgers?

The second class was 5 boys (slightly older, around 18-19 years old), one of whose claim to fame was nearly starting a fistfight in my class a few weeks ago, another who, when not preparing for the French boxing championship, has endless creativity energy for charming his way out of work. They walked into class singing in English ("What is love." "Qu'est-ce que ca veut dire, Madame?" and other smooth lines), asked me if I thought Tom Cruise was a beau gosse, and tried to convince me that they'd spent their vacation in Vancouver.

I can tolerate a certain amount of betises (idiocies, roughly translated) in class, but dropping the n-word in class? Not so much. Where do you begin? So they didn't know that it's an offensive word, even if rappers use it. I can only hope that the ignorance doesn't run deeper than that. If it does, I hope that it's at least been chipped away at today . . .

Today's return to (relative) innocence was a little 12 year-old boy going on a long monologue (in English!) about the (largely imaginary) tradition of oral history in his country, without knowing the phrase "oral history."

"In my country," with a hearty French accent, of course, "We [brainstorms in French] talk the stories of the family. My grandfather say to me," gestures dramatically and self-importantly, "and I say to my little sons." Et cetera. All that to say he didn't want to write his assignment.


  1. Oh, Dearie.

    It will get better. You are surely a good teacher and motivator.

    It is interesting about the seeming dispute/competition between nations that youngsters (and others) have. When there are differences which are not actually so different (we are humans living in a global society), or there is simply no conclusive evidence to decide whether or not one country has a greater affinity for "underwater basket weaving" than another. Sweet.

  2. Thanks, Ellenium! This is going to sound weird, but I actually kind of enjoyed that week... at least my life is interesting, you know?

    Yeah, we do tend to see our differences blown a tad out of proportion -- and it's true that they're there. The work of connecting on a more profound level is more difficult but if we all devoted ourselves to this project...