Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The monk mantis

Teaching ESL students is always an interesting experience. Sometimes I am surprised when looking down at my hands that I don't have clumps of my hair tightly gripped within them. Each strand tightly wound around my finger tips cutting off the circulation. Other times however, my stomach hurts from laughing so hard at their comments, cleverness and/or silliness.

Here are some fun examples of comments that caused tremendous laughter!

Koreans have a difficult time pronouncing my name because the "V" sound does not exist in this language. So instead it comes out "paneso" or "banessa" which they generally think is identical sounding to banana. Almost every school has at least one class that insists on calling me banana teacher. However this week, one class decided that "Kyle's wife" was the best choice for my name. Explaining that I had my own name was futile and from that point on, the entire class referred to me as the second part to Kyle instead of addressing me as an individual.

I was teaching a theme class this week called "Insects." The students goal was to name the insect. Depending on their level, the students knew at least a few, but when they didn't know they would sometimes make up names that might seem to fit.

Did you know that the Horse bee is otherwise known as a WASP? I didn't either. Probably because it isn't true. But that is what the Korean children suggested as its name.

The previous slide was a honey bee, the obvious guess for the wasp was a hose bee, clearly. I thought this was a very clever guess. Especially since an over-sized fly in English is called a horse fly.

The Monk mantis aka: Praying mantis
The students all know mantis. I don't know if it is a Konglish word or if they are just taught it in school, but regardless "mantis" is the word they yell out when the picture fades in. We were prompting them with our hands in the prayer position to help them come up with the beginning word when one boy shouts: "Monk mantis!" I love when the kids actually try as opposed to the usual blank stares and although his guess wasn't EXACTLY correct, I was very grateful for his effort.

I would say it is pretty typical of students not to pay much attention to classes they don't see much value in, even in the states. So either the students this week really didn't pay attention, they got confused or their teacher taught them wrong. But more than one class told me that mosquitoes drink pee. Yep, pee. They're so funny!

Did you know that fireflies have a fire on their HIP?

This is typically how the conversation goes.
What insect is this?


"Its a firefly. Why do you think it is called a firefly?"

"Fire... hip..."

I really don't understand this national misunderstanding, but for some strange reason, Korean children are taught that "the butt" is actually called "hip". They often giggle when they say "hip" as if it is a naughty word they might get in trouble for using. I continuously try and correct each class that comes in, however pointing at ones butt isn't always considered appropriate.

Despite "other issues" there are always fun times to be had in Korea!


bettyl said...

I cannot fathom how difficult it must be to teach in a country that is not your homeland. My hat is off to you, Kyle's wife!

Thanks for the fun post. Kids' minds are weird.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

You get some very funny word combinations. I agree that kids who try are way better than kids who just sit there!