One of the major perks of teaching middle school are the multitude of ridiculous things that I get to hear on a daily basis. Whether it’s something clever and witty from a high level student, something bold from a kid who’s inflated ego has managed to disregard the fact that they can’t put together a complete sentence in English, or something quietly ventured by some of my very low-level students, I cherish every single one of their efforts.
After my last post like this (Part 1) one of my friends asked me if it wasn’t a little bit patronizing to write out what they say verbatim like this because it sounds a bit like an English speaker imitating an “Asian” accent. And I actually thought about that a lot before posting this again.
But the fact that my students will produce imperfect sentences in class or while speaking to me is something that I feel like I’ve earned. Korean students are very well-known for not speaking in English classes because they’re afraid of saying something wrong. They’re going over the grammar in their head and won’t answer until it’s perfect. By which time the moment has passed.
The fear of English is huge here. But after a year now of constant encouragement, I think that my students know pretty well that I don’t care about whether they say something correctly or not. That my class is speaking class whether your grammar is perfect or not.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in front of a class and said, “I don’t care about your grammar or spelling right now, just try. Just try to speak.” Or how many times during a speaking test I’ve looked a frozen student in the eyes and said, “It’s okay, let’s try again” as gently as possible. I give out “good job’s” like it’s going out of style. Because they don’t hear that a lot, and it means something.
But I digress. I would never in a million years use my students own words against them to make fun of the way they speak. These little pieces of conversations are things that I cherish. I have worked hard to love them well and to make my classroom a place where they can feel comfortable to make mistakes without fear.
So anyway, all that to say, here are somethings that my students have said to me. Part 2!
-Me on the first day back from break: “What did you do during summer vacation?”
Student: “I waited for you Teacher.”
-I have no shame in admitting that I buy almost all of clothes at Uniqlo because the fit and style are more to my taste than a lot of Korean clothing shops. However when I got this one day, “Teacher is your other job uniqlo model?” I decided it was time to add a little variety.
-“Teacher can I please have my paper airplane back?” You mean the one you threw at the front of the room while I was teaching? Yea, that’s a solid no. Unfortunately I didn’t say that out loud.
-“Teacher why do foreigners have high nose?” At the time of that question I didn’t even know what having a high nose meant. I’ve since been informed and congratulated.
-“Oh Teacher, today clothes very beautiful!” On this particular day I was wearing baggy jeans, a white button down, and a vest. I thought I looked a bit like a cartoon character, but I can always count on this kid to brighten my day.
-While doing a lesson on the phrase “Do you remember” I decided it would be funny to ask them “Do you remember my last name?” Because they call me “my first name” Teacher and not a single person in the school uses my last name ever. I got all kinds of answers.
“Jones!” “Smith!” “Teacher!” “Angelina” “America!” But of course there was also that one kid who out of the blue raises his hand and says my last name perfectly, which not only do most people not know but also can’t pronounce properly on the first try. They never cease to amaze me.
-“Teacher one more candy please.” “Nope.” “Teacher rock paper scissors one more candy.” “Nooo.” “Teacher if you don’t rock paper scissors I will steal it!” “Okay fine, rock paper scissors shoot!” *he loses* “Nooooo!”
-“Are you guys going to win the soccer game on sports day?” “Nooooo. Teacher, you saw.” He said very solemnly. I was outside watching them practice the day before and they lost.
-“Teacher, so funny times!” I get a variation of this a lot actually. Basically they just want to tell me that class was fun today, but for some reason everyone has a hard time coming up with that particular sentence. But there is nothing more gratifying than a kid whose English is really low trying to tell me that they had fun in class today.
-Super sweet high level kid in the back raises his hand before class started. “Teacher my birthday was yesterday!” Then the entire class shouts “No question!” It took me a second to get what they were going for but then I said, “Ah in English we say, nobody asked!” Then the entire class in unison, “NOBODY ASKED!”
-Phrase for the day was, “What are you interested in?” Some responses include…
“Money” “Women” “First love” “Teacher” “Brains” “Comics” “Girlfriends” “Breathing” and a personal favorite, “Collecting difficult English words.”
-During a grade one speaking test, their assignment was a short show and tell about an object that is special to them. “This is a picture of my favorite idol. It’s good for your eyes because he is very handsome.”
-One grade three student opens the classroom door into the hallway to come out to take his speaking test. I said hello as I turned around to see who it was (one of my favorites and he knows it) and he starts singing, “Hello, it’s meeeee” from the Adel song. I just about lost it and now he sings that song every time he says hello to me.
-Somehow or another every single third grade boy student in our school has picked up the phrase, “Let’s get it” in English. It certainly didn’t come from me so I can only assume it’s a line in some song that they like. But I can’t tell you how many times in a day I hear this stupid phrase. At first I was on a mission to kill, “Let’s get it” or at least try to discover where they all learned it.
But I was fighting a losing battle so I’ve defected to the other side. “Let’s get it” in class now pretty much means, “Let’s start.”
So I’ve had the privileged recently to hear things like, “Oh yea, Listen and Speak 2 let’s get it!” or “Teacher, speaking test! Let’s get it!”
Maybe this one of those things, like showing pictures of your kids to other people, where no one really cares as much as you do but they’ll pretend. Maybe these things are only precious and hilarious to me because I know the names and faces that go with each quote. But in any case I hope you enjoyed this! Thanks for reading!