Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Philsophical biology

I haven’t written about students in a while, so here’s a sweet story about a great reading class I have.  This type of class is my favorite textbook class, using a really well-designed and well-written National Geographic textbook.  It doesn’t hurt that the students aren’t bad either: 2 high school students and one woman who’s a little older.  I used to have another high schooler, but time constraints caused her to drop the class.  She’s the reason I’m writing, though: I want to talk about one of the funniest things I’ve heard a student say recently.

As our first class was about animals doing unusual and surprising things, we played that game where you write your three favorite animals and some adjectives, and then discover that the first means such and such, the second means this, etc.

As they searched for the best adjectives, Kiki was looking for good descriptors for dinosaurs, and our conversation went almost exactly like this:

K: I don’t have a dinosaur with, so I don’t know what to say.  I have big, friendly, and cute.

M: I… don’t think dinosaurs are really like that.  Big, yes.  Maybe strong?  Powerful?  I would have to say violent.  [demonstration of violent]

K: But that’s not the dinosaur in my heart.

Adorable!  I only wish I could accurately portray her tone and manner as she said it…

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Business as usual

Today I had my favorite class, and it went as well as ever.  To top it off, I got two new students, twins called Herry and Jerry who evened up my return rate for that class.  They must be twelve or thirteen, but they have the deepest voices in the class… but they still wear matching clothes and even matching glasses.

This class has 16 students, but there are only about 10 names between the lot of them!  I have two Bellas, two Peggys, two Brians, and two Jerrys.  On the bright side, I don’t have any ridiculous names like Pony!  I only have to work on Herry, and I’ve had luck convincing students before (Toby was convinced his name was spelled Tobby before I told him otherwise).

Looking through my cell phone pictures, I found a few fun pieces of homework, so I’ll throw them up here without too much segue or explanation.  For this first one, I’ll just comment that you always have one or two of those philosophical types in every class…

For the next two, those who aren’t philosophers are artists with the written word.  Sometimes you don’t understand the art, but you have to respect the effort.

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My favorite days are test days because I teach a lot less.  Better even than test days are days when the oral test and the paper test are in  different lessons, since I get the ease of a test day, but don’t have to grade the test.  Before you turn away in disgust at my laziness and declare me unfit to be a teacher, let me try to redeem myself.  Oral tests are also my favorite days because I get one-on-one time with students (two-on-one time for the higher levels).

It’s a great time for me to see how they’re doing and offer more personal encouragement and congratulations.  It’s also a good time for checking and correcting pronunciation (and trying to make it stick), but sometimes, it’s just a good time for practicing my poker face.

The oral test I had on Wednesday was in my oldest normal class, whose theme for this level has been technology, which means a lot of futuristic spacecraft and food pills (as well as the atrocious “intelligent” pill).  I called Jeff and Eric out as the last oral test pair, and as they looked at the prompt picture, they asked each other questions according to the forms below it.  The answers were free-form, and as with anything, the more you put in, the more you get out.  These two are some of the best students in the class, and when Jeff asked “What is the astroman doing?,” I knew I was going to get a good answer.  Eric responded by telling us that he was repairing the spacecar, and I had to regretfully inform them that he was an astronaut and it was a spacecraft.

Those are the kind of answers I love, though: both of them understand what the word means and and are working with the compound nature of those words.  If I may be technical (and possibly wrong) for a moment: they’ve grasped the morphemes and how they relate to the meaning, and when they can’t call the actual word to mind, they create a (phonetic and semantic!!) approximation.  I get the feeling that this is what most of my Chinese is right now: close and logical, but not quite right.

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