Friday, October 2, 2009

Language Barrier?

I love kids. I love it when they say ridiculous things. I love it when they don't realize they are acting like complete goofballs. I love it when we act like complete goofballs together. I love it when they leave my class and act like goofballs to other people because of what we discussed in class. I love hearing about kids being complete goofballs in other classes, whether I have met the kid or not.

Exhibit A:
  • Today we were discussing prepositional phrases in Honors English 10. This leads to if you answer the phone like this: "Who do you want to talk to?," how should you ask if, say, a college recruiter is calling? and what's the problem with saying "Do you want to come with?" This leads to a discussion of dialect, which leads to a discussion on code-switching: Why do Minnesotans measure distance in minutes? What do you call a carbonated, flavored beverage like Pepsi? Where do you keep clean dishes? How do you pronounce "root"? "Bag"? Do you talk to me in the same manner you talk to your friends? Of course, it also includes my most striking example of dialect (in German): In High German, when you ask where someone is, you say "Verstehen Sie?" but in Swabisch, a Southern dialect, you would say "Verstosch?" This leads to a little birdwalk into German pronunciation. The kids think German sounds a little harsh, I say English does too, English is a Germanic language, etc., etc., including not ever saying "ick" when you are pronouncing the German word "ich."
  • Fast-forward to after school. Delightful-bouncy-girl-with-lots-of-stress-at-home, who was in my class last year, pops in and says, "Were you teaching people how to say 'I love you' in German today?" We talked about pronouncing "ich liebe dich," yes. "Well, Nice-smart-hardworking-boy-who-is-in-your-class-now came up to me and said 'ich liebe dich,' and it was pretty weird."
Exhibit B:
  • When a student asked what my plans were this weekend, I said I plan on sleeping in. The Danish exchange student in the class looked concerned. "You will do what this weekend?" Sleep in. "And what means this?" To sleep later than usual. "Oh, Denmark, this means to die. When someone sleeps in, they have died in the night."
Exhibit C:
  • A friend of mine teaches ELL, and the kids have work time for other classwork at the end of each hour. Our new French exchange student, who doesn't speak English well enough to take American Lit right now, is currently in my friend's class. When they wrapped up their daily lesson, the exchange student went up to stare at the map of the US. When my friend redirected him to his homework, the student pointed at the map and said, "Ze map." You need to sit down and work on your homework. "I learn." No, you don't. You're just staring. Take your seat. "Ze map!" Sit down please. "Ze cities!" Find your seat please. "Ze map!"
It's the goofiness of days like today that keep me smiling when my fourth hour hoots for two straight minutes.

Who am I kidding?

They were hooting because I started it.

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