Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dirty Old Men Business English Class

My Dirty-Old-Men-Business-English class is drawing to a close. This is one of my favorite classes. They are not actually dirty-old-men, but they do tease me, and each other quite a bit. For example the time I had them play the "Don't say yes or no." game. Basically someone sits at the front of the room and the rest of the class fires yes/no questions at them while, as the name of the game implies, they try to say anything other than "yes" or "no". Well, the oldest and quietest of the students got up to the front and the guys started with the questions:

Q "Do you love your wife?"
A "I think so."
Q "Do you have a girlfriend?"
A "Sometimes."
Q "Are you wearing underwear?"
A "A G-string."
Q "Do you have a condom?"
A "Used last night."

I was laughing so hard I was crying, occasionally pulling myself together to correct questions
" 'Do you like ladyboys.' not 'Is you like ladyboys?' "

I've been teaching them since October... possibly September even, and next week will be the last class. They'd finished the book well early and for the last three classes I had pulled together activities from supplemental Business English books. But today, after spending about three hours searching through half a dozen resource books for something interesting and relevant to teach them, I gave up and decided to have a little fun.

I found an activity for writing a love story. It was, like most of my improvised lessons, a bit of a dud... but I think some of the guys had fun with it. At one point I was walking around looking at the students' papers when one covered his up and said... "Don't look, it's dirty, dirty." Given that the subject was romance I feigned a little shock and said "Oh no! I don't want to read it if it's dirty." While one of the students seemed to understand me, the original student didn't so I asked "What do you mean by dirty." and he pointed out different places where he'd scribbled out words and rewrote them in the margins etc. I explained that in America, "dirty" can also mean "very sexual." and he responded "oh no no... not like that". The first student however turned to me and asked "Why is that? Why do you say 'dirty' for sex?"

Oh man. This is why you should never joke around with your students! How exactly do you explain America's hypocritical and puritanical attitudes about sex in two minutes or less using only Elementary English? I chose to go with a historical /geographical approach- briefly discussing Victorian England, the Puritans, the Bible belt, the rural/urban dichotomy of morals, and interestingly, the Mormons. I used the phrase "crazy" a lot. They understand "crazy." He just looked at me like I was speaking nonsense. And I was. As a culture, our attitude towards sex makes no sense at all.

At one point he said "But you don't think that..." Gah! This is not a conversation they prepared us for on the CELTA! I went with "Actually, I was raised that way." and told him that my sister's wedding (at a Baptist church in North Carolina) they were not allowed to kiss during the ceremony. But then I reassured him that my city was pretty liberal - you could stay with your boyfriend if you wanted to, you could be gay, anything was pretty much okay. That seemed to satisfy him, so I quickly extricated myself and continued on with the class.

I'm going to miss this class. They are easily my most fluent students, and the most fun. But I am probably not going to miss the surprise personal questions about my moral upbringing!

TAG: Code Sticky Rice

August is insanely busy for me, 30+ teaching hours a week is pretty brutal. I've already had five 12-hour days this month, and more to come. CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!

Oh wait... that's right, I don't have a bathtub.

Or hot water.



Chance said...

Haha! What an awesome story. "Is you like ladyboys?" is going to be asked of a LOT of people the next time I'm out drinkin'.

Rebel said...

You know, the 'yes or no' game would be pretty good drunk too!

Michael5000 said...