We had 1.5 hours today to teach English to HS students – 16 or 17, in a Vocational School. Currently they learn English form movies and signs.
There were 2 teachers. The regular teacher was a good friend of our director, very pleasant and I think a good teacher. We also had the head of the department who was Old School, told us multiple times she was a strict disciplinarian, and totally took over the class from the regular teacher. She also took us to her classroom and proudly showed us the typical American phrases she had been teaching. One was “nothing much to sing about.”
She also took us to the library and there in all its radiance was a Card Catalog, each drawer labeled with a letter of the Cyrillic alphabet. She asked, “You know this? Do they have in America?” Yes, and, sadly, no.
Naturally when I say Chicago the first word is “mafia.” Sigh. Then I told them about Michael Jordan and basketball. And I pointed out that President Obama is from Chicago. They were far more interested in knowing if Oprah was really going off the air.
Anyway with her help we got through our presentations and asked what they knew about the US. DH bragged “they know all the movie starts and great writers.” They proudly listed off Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Jackie Chan for screen stars and Hawthorne, Dreiser, and Salinger for authors. We have a time warp, Scottie!
In class we introduced ourselves and the kids actually were attentive and interactive enough to tell me they understood. Dept Head prowled the room “disciplining” anyone who… well… acted like a teenager. This group was far more quiet than Glenbard West. Even the halls between classes were almost silent. And clean.
Then the teacher had a question. “What are American jests?” Jokes? Funny stories? AFV? No – like hand signs. Ah – gestures. They knew tapping the head for “crazy” and thumbs up for “good.” Then my colleague described the Middle Finger Bad Sign, and they, in all curiosity, asked, “Right or left hand?” I don’t want to think what the lunch room looked like as they practiced what the Americans taught them.