Thursday, April 23, 2015

ESL Stories - Part 2

This is the second installment of some cute and funny ESL stories that I have gathered from school. Kids are funny to begin with, so when you throw in a language barrier, things get hilarious. It can be frustrating at times, of course, but the moments of frustrations are far outweighed by the moments of joy and hilarity.

Click here to read my first installment of ESL stories!

First, a quote from me: "Ok... No more dance. It's exam time."

For some reason, one of my first graders simultaneously got stuck on "2005" and Beethoven's 5th symphony (the one played in the movie about the dog with the same name for those who are not overly familiar with classical music). This resulted in her singing "two-thousand-five" repeatedly to the tune of Beethoven's 5th. Still not sure why that was happening, but eventually one of the other students picked up on my mild annoyance at it and decided to tell her to stop by using the same tune to sing "no-thousand-no...."

In Kindergarten, things can get very weird very quickly as a result of their limited English combined with their endless desires to amuse and entertain and be the centers of attention. One day, I was asking what something was called. I'm no longer sure what I was referencing, but it had nothing to do with the Lord, sheep, or green pastures. However, one of the girls responded by quoting the Psalm they're memorizing: "The Lord is my shepherd... Even though I walk through the valley...."

In first grade, we do journal entries almost every day. It gives them a chance to do something a little different and we can talk about whatever I want rather than having to stick just with the book lessons. During the month of February, we made a paper chain that contained words on it that had to do with love, pulling mainly from I Corinthians 13. One of the words therefore was "believe." So as we made a list together of things we believe in, one of the girls started singing: "I believe I can fly."

In Kindergarten, we were working on learning future tenses of verbs, and despite the similarity between English "future" and Spanish "futuro" they were having a hard time remembering what future was. So it happened that one day in class I asked, "What is future?" to which one student replied, "Octopus." After rejecting her answer, another student thought for a moment and replied, "Future is Wednesday."

During chapel on Fridays, we sing a variety of songs, one of which is called "Jesus is my Superhero." The chorus consists of singing "Yeah.... yeah... yeah... yeah...." then declaring that Jesus is better than [fill in name of superhero]. One day in first grade I asked a student if she had a pencil and rather than simply answering yes, she answered by singing, "Yeah.... yeah.... yeah... yeah..." complete with hand motions.

I have a personal rule about laughing at students. I simply do not do it, no matter how poorly or badly they mispronounce words. The last thing I want is for them to think that I'm laughing at them and I know how it feels to be laughed at for bad Spanish. However, I broke that rule a while ago because I was completely caught off-guard by the word that was mispronounced and because of the way it was spoken. In Kindergarten's vocabulary class, they had the phrase "put on your clothes" as part of the lesson on what your day looks like. We hadn't studied it much in class, but they had been given flashcards with the words on them to study at home, so I hoped that at least a couple of them might know the cards when I pulled them out in class. One boy did... sort of. When I showed him the card and asked him what it was, he got excited because he knew it from studying with his mom (who doesn't speak any English) and loudly proclaimed, "Put on your CRAP!" I lost it, regained my composure to correct him on it and get the kids to say it correctly several times, and we moved on. As we went through the cards a second time, it came up for the girl sitting next to him. She couldn't remember it, so he helpfully whispered it in her ear. Like him, she loudly proclaimed it to be "Put on your CRAP!" Again, I lost it. That time I also tried to explain that it was a bad word to discourage them from making a habit out of it, but I'm not sure they caught that. At any rate, I was able to correct them on it, and no longer had them say it unless I read it first to them.

Hope you enjoyed them! Thanks for reading!