I’m Psychic: Brazilian Monkey Edition

It’s amazing how many little kid games I have my students play in class. We play board games, Memory, Cootie Catcher, but my favorite is Telephone. It’s perfect because it incorporates listening and pronunciation skills, and today, I made it use writing skills too. Because I’m the jam.

We were working today on quoted speech. You know, where you tell exactly what somebody else said and use quotation marks. I only just recently realized that not all languages write quoted speech the same. We use a comma to introduce a quote while other languages use a colon. We also put both of our quotation marks up high whereas in other languages, one of them goes down low. It’s crazy times, I tell you.

So I started two messages going in opposite directions around the room. As each student heard the message, he/she had to write it down as a direct quote:

Miguel said, “The fly water is ugly bathtub.”

That way, when we got the messed up one at the other end, we could trace our way back through the mistakes. And I don’t know, but I think that was more fun than just hearing the messed up version at the end.

Well. One of the sentences was, “Maria has a pet monkey in Brazil.” In my lesson plans, I’d written, “__student__ has a pet monkey in __country__,” and I’d planned to see who was there in class today and pick someone with a good sense of humor to put in the sentence. Maria worked out well because she has a great sense of humor, and she was far enough around the room for the sentence to have changed significantly from the original by the time it got to her.

On the other end, it came out, “Maria likes smoking,” but before that, it was, “Maria likes monkeys,” and ,”Maria is a bad monkey in Brazil,” which I’m sure they thought was some crazy idiom I’d thrown in. You know, like Shaft is a bad mon… (Shut yo’ mouth!). Aaaaaand YouTube-ing the theme from Shaft…

Anyhoe, once we traced it back to the beginning and everyone knew what the original sentence was, Maria’s face lit up, and she said, “Yes! It’s true!”

Y’all. The woman straight up had a pet monkey in Brazil. I was so confused, I didn’t know what to do with myself. She thought someone had told me, and I had to show her my lesson plan to explain that it was all a big coincidence. Amazing.

Incidentally, the other message was, “Without geometry, life is pointless,” which they totally didn’t get, but I was amused.

And the Bad Blogger Award Goes to…

I mean dag, y’all. I suck at this. I’m sorry. Here’s what’s been happening.

I’ve been working. We’ve been in class for three weeks now, and my students are fabulous. As always, I love them to pieces. I’ve been having about 15 every day, and yesterday, at our 2nd registration (out of 3), I got EIGHT more. Holy crap. We literally had to change classrooms in the middle of class because we would not all physically fit into the room we were in. And the church where we have classes is doing some work on our two biggest classrooms, so those are currently out of commission. All I can say is God help the workmen to finish those rooms before the next registration, or I’ll be teaching in the sanctuary, and I’m pretty sure that would weird everyone out.

My afternoon classes have been having pretty decent attendance considering we’ve only had the 1st registration. I think they’ll pick up significantly next week with this new batch of students, and the slang/idioms/phrasal verbs class is FUN. It’s actually pretty hard work for the students, but I had them do some writing for me the other day, and they’re really getting it. I wish I had some samples to share with you, but alas, I gave them back already.

Oh! I do have a pretty amazing story for you, though. I was having dinner with some friends last night (old and new), and one of them was Italian. He’s here studying at NC State for a semester, and he was telling us about a mistake that he’s been making in English for the past month that no one bothered to correct him on until recently.

In Italian, you can ask someone for a favor by saying “per favore,” or you can ask someone more politely for a bigger favor by saying “per piacere,” which, literally translated, means “for pleasure.” So this guy has been asking people “politely” for “big favors” by saying, “Can I ask you a pleasure?” or, “Could you do me a pleasure?”

Well, his friends have just been letting him say this in coffee shops and gas stations all up and down the eastern seaboard, but to make the story even better, he gave us an example that was supposed to be completely innocuous, but he didn’t know that the thing he was requesting could also have another meaning. He wanted to convey that he’d been asking people for “pleasures” and then just ordering simple things in a coffee shop, but his example was, “Excuse me, could you do me a pleasure? Could you give me a muffin?”

Oh my, how we did laugh! And then we ate crepes.

I’ve been doing more things, but to tell you all of them in one post might be a tad overwhelming, so I’ll save them for another post (which I’ll go ahead and write and then set up to post itself next week some time so we don’t go this long again without having some sort of update). Ciao, y’all!

Stop. Music Time

Well, I’ve gotten a little distracted. I was looking for songs, see, to use in class. I wanted songs that told stories, so I typed it into the Google, and away we went. But then, at the bottom of one article about story songs, there was a link to the Top 25 Guilty Pleasure Songs, and I just couldn’t pass that up, so now I’m making myself a Guilty Pleasures playlist, and I’d like to share it with you. As of now, it comprises only those songs I already owned or loved so much that I was compelled to purchase them on the spot. Guilt-free.

  1. Copa Cabana – Barry Manilow
  2. All Out of Love – Air Supply
  3. Mickey – Toni Basil
  4. The Safety Dance – Men Without Hats
  5. Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
  6. Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) – Aaron Carter
  7. Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band
  8. Bye Bye Bye – *NSYNC
  9. I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys
  10. Spice Up Your Life – Spice Girls
  11. Just Dance – Lady Gaga
  12. …Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
  13. Hey, Soul Sister – Train
  14. Straight Up – Paula Abdul
  15. Take a Chance on Me – ABBA

That’s it for now. If you have suggestions for songs to add, or if you’d like to go ahead and post your own Guilty Pleasures playlist in the comments, feel free. I’d love to laugh at with you about your horrible taste in music!

Also, if you have any suggestions of story songs I could use in class, I’d appreciate those as well!

The Teacher Becomes the Student

Oh y’all, this semester is going to be FUN! First of all, I’m going to be teaching a new class (that I’ll be inventing as I go) on phrasal verbs, idioms and slang. Now, for those of you who are not total grammar nerds, a phrasal verb is a verb composed of two or more words which, when put together, convey a meaning different from the meanings of the individual words. For example, “hang out” can be literally hang + out as in, “I hang (action) my towels out (where) on the balcony railing to dry.” Or, “hang out” can be a phrasal verb as in, “Ryan Gosling and I were hanging out in his hot tub last night…”

Ok fine, so that last one might have a possible double entendre, but you get the idea.

Anyhoe, that class is going to be awesome. But my other class, my morning class, is also going to be lots of fun. I’ve recently discovered some new podcasts that I’ll be using for listening practice. All from HowStuffWorks.com, we’ve got Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, and my personal favorite, Stuff Mom Never Told You. Well, I was listening to a Mom Stuff podcast just now in preparing my lessons for the first week of class, and as I was writing down a few vocabulary words from it, I began to wonder whether I should also use this podcast for the slang class.

The terms in question were “guyliner” and “manscara,” but they also got me thinking about “manscaping,” which made me curious as to how many other such words exist. So I looked it up and was not shocked to find the following:

  • guylights
  • boytox
  • manbag
  • brozilian

I WAS, however, both surprised and very, very amused by mantyhose. Yeah. Just you go look that up and enjoy. Feel free to come on back here when you’re done and leave comments.

Making Progress

With the move all finished and the semester over, I now have a couple of weeks to relax, unpack, get organized, get things like internet set up, and prepare for next semester to start. I am proud to report that I’m making progress on all fronts.

Time Warner is coming next weekend to flip our internet switch, which seems a tad ridiculous to me. How hard can this be that we have to wait a week and a half for them to come and plug things in? I mean, we have our own modem and router. We know where the plugs are. The apartments were built long before the Interwebs were, but I’m sure we won’t be the first people to use them there. All they should really need to do is literally flip a switch or click a box or perform a simple tribal dance. Really it can’t be that complicated. But apparently what with it being the beginning of the month and all, enough people are having their internet/cable hooked up to completely book every technician Time Warner employs for every moment of every day until the 14th. But we do have an appointment that day, so we’re making progress.

The unpacking and organizing are going well too. Here is a very bad, cell phone picture to at least give you (Ana) an idea of what’s going on in there. 99% of the boxes are gone, and though I don’t have a picture of it, my room is also taking shape nicely.

On the relaxation front, today marks the second day in a row that I have not woken up in pain, I went to the POOL yesterday, and I’m headed to Asheville tomorrow to get my kayak on!! Well. I’m not sure we’re actually going to go kayaking. We might go white water rafting, or we might go funyaking, which, I know, sound like we’re going to have an awesome time vomiting, but a funyak (aka duck or ducky) is basically an inflatable kayak or one-person raft. In either vessel, I am certain a fun time will be had by all. And I’ll try not to get 2nd degree sun burns this year.

And finally, although I have not yet begun to write actual lesson plans, I did order several books yesterday with which to torture my poor students. Yippee! Hooray!! You might not be able to truly appreciate how satisfying this is unless you are a teacher, but if you are a teacher (especially an ESL teacher), I’m sure you’re jealous that I’m getting new books. Even if I did have to purchase them with my own money from half.com. Whatever. Last year, I discovered the joy and absolute magic of tax write-offs. My goal is to get my AGI into the negative. I think I’m getting close.

Y’all have a great weekend!

True Confessions

True Confession #1

When I think about planning lessons, my whole brain shuts down, and I have to convince myself that it’s a necessary thing to do. Then I have to think about how long it will take me and what else I have to do that day, and if there’s any time at all to spare, the lesson planning gets bumped back. I like the actual teaching, and I love hanging out with my students every day, but the planning part is so draining. The only things in life I like planning are trips and parties. That’s it. Everything else can be improvised.

True Confession #2

When I’m walking alongside a single guy friend, I always want to hold his hand. Always. It doesn’t matter if I’m interested in him romantically or not. It just seems to me like the natural thing to do, and I have to constantly remind myself that we are not dating, that I’m not actually interested in dating him, that if I were to try and hold his hand, it would be weird, and that nothing good could come of it. It would make everything awkward and not be worth it at all. So if you are a single guy friend of mine and you notice that my conversational skills are lacking when we walk, it’s because I’m having to concentrate very hard on not weirding you out. You’re welcome.

But if you want to hold my hand, go for it. I won’t think anything of it.

Story Time!

I’m writing this before I leave for Italy and setting it up to publish itself while I’m there. I’m going to tell it from today’s perspective, though, so when I say “yesterday,” I really mean Wednesday, June 15. I’ll only do that once, though, so don’t worry.

Ok. So yesterday, I had my grammar class in the afternoon. There’s a fifteen-minute break between the morning class and the afternoon class, and I like to sneak away for a few of those minutes to regroup. Well, as I was sneaking back upstairs, one of my students came rushing in from the parking lot all in a panic, telling me he’d locked his keys in his trunk.

Now let me just tell you that this is a very smart guy. He probably speaks three or four languages now, and although he says his job has something to do with trade between the U.S. and China, one of the other teachers and I kind of suspect that he’s a spy because his description of his job is so vague and because he has “friends” in just about every country in the world. Or maybe our imaginations are just too active, and we need to leave the country more often. Anyhoe, back to the story.

He was very concerned about the keys. I told him it was fine and that we’d call AAA after class. He didn’t know what that was, so I had to explain. I didn’t go into much detail because I had a class to teach, but I told him he wouldn’t have to pay any money and asked if he trusted me. He said he did, so we went up to class.

Two hours later, I called AAA, and they told me they’d be there in about 30 minutes. Immediately after that, the tow truck guy called and said he’d be there in 15-20. The student and I went outside and waited. I ate an orange. We chit-chatted. The tow truck arrived.

The guy tried to jimmy the lock, but he couldn’t catch it for some reason, so then he pulled out The Pump. I don’t know if y’all have seen this or not. I never had. It looked to me like a third of a blood pressure arm band (the third closest to the pump). He got it wedged into the door and started squeezing the pump, which expanded the bag, opening the door slightly. Then he stuck a long rod through the crack in the door and used it to push the unlock button inside the car.

Success!! The alarm sounded loudly, but the student leaned in and popped the trunk. Then he went back to retrieve his keys and turn off the alarm.

He rummaged through the top layer of stuff in the trunk. Then the second. Then back through the first. Then he was just tossing things out right and left. The tow truck guy asked if they were in his bag, and he said no, and then I asked if they were in his pocket, and bingo.

Not just any pocket, though. His back pocket. He’d been sitting on his keys for two hours in class and hadn’t felt a thing. The poor guy was so embarrassed, but the tow truck guy and I couldn’t help ourselves. We were losing it. The student apologized profusely to both of us, but I think we agreed that it pretty much made our day, so we weren’t mad in the least.

The End

How Many Fridays Can One Week Have?

This is at least the third day this week that I’ve thought was Friday. I honestly don’t know how time could possibly pass more slowly, but in case you are so inclined, please don’t try to explain the passage of time in the metaphysical sense to me as my head would most certainly explode.

It’s been one of those weeks when I just felt like I wasn’t running on all cylinders mentally. When I didn’t feel like sticking to my lesson plans, I couldn’t think quickly enough to change them on the spot. And I’m sitting here now trying to figure out exactly what I want to do tomorrow (because I was very lazy in my planning and just wrote down “*Vocab test, *Watch”), and I’ve got nothin’. The test will take about ten minutes, and I have no idea what to watch. And if we’re going to watch something, I need to come up with some listening comprehension/analysis/discussion questions to go with it, and once again – nothin’.

Goodness gracious, the semester JUST started, and I already need a vacation. If you have ideas and/or hugs for me, bring ’em on.

One. More. Week.

I sort of count the week over on Thursday afternoon because that’s when I finish my last afternoon class, and on Fridays, I’m finished at 1:00. Fridays are also easy because by that time, I’m pretty much finished with my part of the work. What I mean by that is that I don’t stand up in front of the class doing a lot of explaining on Fridays. I do most of that on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the rest of the week is mostly them working on stuff and me waiting around until it’s time to go over it. This class is nice like that. However, it does mean that I spend a large part of my weekend planning my lessons. Every week.

This weekend will be no different, but NEXT weekend…oh next weekend, how I LONG for thee!! Thou makest me to speak in Shakespearean English, for thou art glorious in all thy ways!

Next week is the last week of this semester! And while I will be working two nights a week (because my job is weird like that), I have every day off for two whole weeks!! And I’m going to spend the first weekend (and a couple of extra days as well) at the beach. Doing nothing. Literally nothing.

I don’t want y’all to think that I don’t absolutely love my job. I do. And I consider myself extremely lucky to have found something I’m good at, I love, and I get to do with the most awesome people for the most awesome people. But oh my gosh it wears me out. Mentally, physically, relationally (and therefore emotionally), it wears me the eff out. I walk in every day at 8:50 and immediately have questions to answer, and they don’t stop until 3:00. Grammar questions, vocabulary questions, usage questions, what’s-the-difference-between-these-two-synonyms questions, personal questions, spelling questions, pronunciation questions. By the end of the day, I barely know my own name.

In some ways, it’s great. I think sometimes about what it would be like if I had an office job, and I feel like I would just lose brain cells sitting there all day. Answering questions I’m not prepared for at least keeps me on my toes. Plus, I can be really creative if I want to be. I have a lot of freedom to teach things however I want, and that also keeps my brain active. But after three and a half months of non-stop brain activity and spending 20+ hours a week with the same people, this introvert needs some rest. So I’m running away to the beach for four days, and I’m not going to talk to most of you until I get back.

My head feels lighter just thinking about it. The sun on my face, the sand in my toes, a book, a bottle of water, my favorite playlist, and no one asking me why “beforeward” isn’t the opposite of “afterward,” how “near” is different from “nearby,” or what the correct pronunciation is of “sheet” (sheeeet, SHEEEEEEEEEET – sh*t – oh forget it).

One more week, y’all. One. More. Week.

Non-stop Fun?

I feel like I’ve packed two weeks into this week already, what with laundry and writing sub plans and making a sassy Mardi Gras running skirt and movie Tuesday and working out and this and that and the other thing. I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday, but on the other hand, I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. Holy crap, y’all, it’s already Wednesday night, which means at this time TOMORROW, I will be en route to New Orleans!! I should pack. And print out my e-ticket, and print out the info about where we’re supposed to go and when for the race, and maybe print out a map to the hotel from the airport.

And go to bed. Whew. I’ll try to update from the Big Easy, but if I can’t, keep up with me on Twitter. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of tweetable moments to share.