Monday, June 14, 2010

Difficult teaching moments!

WARNING! There will be swearing in this blog post.

In most English conversation schools there are a few things you aren't allowed to talk, politics, religion and of course....don't teach your students bad words. I am quite lucky in that most of those rules don't apply to me as my boss is very liberal. I don't teach my young students swear words. I don't normally teach my older students (adults) swear words either... though over the course of 12 years, I have.

The thing is there are lots of things that my students are curious about that frankly, aren't in any text book. Once, a class of ladies (all in their 60's) asked me to teach them bathroom English....yup....all about bowel movements, passing gas (and they wanted the slang) etc. That was fun! Another time, one of students (also a woman in her late 60's) said that she had been watching a TV show and a celebrity was being interviewed and they wanted to know what her favorite swear word was. My student was curious because when the woman said the word, there was no explanation in the Japanese subtitles. Turns out the word she was curious about was "cocksucker". Yeah....just about spit my tea out when I heard that one!

I also remember when one of the sweetest little ladies (again, in her 60's) I have ever taught blurt out in class that her crotch hurt.....I now totally forget what the topic was about but I remember teaching her to say something else as that would be surprising to hear!

Explaining these kinds of things to adults is fine albeit, embarrassing at times but today I walked into a class and a 13 year old boy wanted to know what "fuck you" meant. Ah..... He then proceeded to say "shit" "goddamn" among other things. I told them (there was class of 4 kids watching carefully as they knew something was going on) that these weren't things they should say. He then turned to his friend in class, flipped him the finger and said "fuck you". I asked him where he learned these things. From a friend. They wouldn't let it drop. These are good kids and I love this class but I certainly don't want their mothers thinking I'm teaching them these things. So, I asked my boss (who, obviously can tell them in real Japanese) to tell them these are things they shouldn't say etc. He walked into the class and the kid asked him about "shit" boss said that it means "unko" (poo) and then told them to not say these things in class. I thought it was settled but when that kid didn't get perfect on his test, he looked at me, snapped his fingers and said "shit"...just like a Canadian would!


photojoy said...

Oh, it's not a laughing matter for a native English teacher.
I believe most students are just curious and innocent and feel free to ask teachers "anything" since a native English teacher is a walking dictionary for them.
Adults women of 60s and kids boys are really as they are.
That boy is beyond help! He should know his future girlfriend will never feel happy about this.
By the way I look up it in any dictionaries, when I'm dying to know "some words", from a paper dictionary to e-dictionary whatever until I said "Ah ha".

FromJapanWithLove said...

Hi Photojoy! In most cases it isn't a laughing matter (though sure is!). But many "normal" dictionaries don't have the kind of slang so they can't always look it up. And my older students don't use computers so they wouldn't look there so yeah....they ask me! And you are right....Japanese feel free to ask us anything! I have been shocked by things I have been asked at bars etc-things they would never ask other Japanese! It makes life interesting!!


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