There’s nothing like a little lighthearted cannibalism to start your day

April 4, 2011

…at least in terms of teaching English as a foreign language. In fact, I have (thankfully) not yet tried to devour any of my students, no matter how many invitations they seem to give me. When you’re teaching and want to provoke certain answers, sometimes you just choose questions so ludicrous that students have no choice but to defer to the phrases they’ve just learned:

Teacher: “Have you ever eaten cats?”

Student: “No… I have… never eaten cats!”

All well and good. No cats were harmed in the making of this lesson.

My students all have western names for the duration of their stay at our hagwon: Laura, Peter, Fred, Chris, etc. One happens to be Sam, a lower-level student who can understand some basic phrases and a few hundred words, but not much beyond that. So, naturally, when a lesson on food popped up, I thought of a creative way to teach a phonics point:

Teacher: “Please repeat, ‘What are you eating?’”

Students: “What are you eating?”

Teacher: “I am eating a banana.”

Students: “I am eating a banana.”

Teacher: “I am eating a sandwich.”

Students: “I am eating a sandwich.”

Teacher: “I am eating a Samwich.”

Students: (incessant giggling)

Sam: “Teacher, NOOOOO!”

Why do I tease one of my students like that? It’s certainly not to bully him, but rather to show I’m capable of joking around during a lesson. Since the students laughed, I know they understand the difference between “sandwich” and “Samwich”. An important phonics lesson for beginners. Still, I hope none of them get the idea to take a bite out of the little guy.

My next lesson in cannibalism comes from one of my highest-level classes. They’re able to form complicated sentences and improvise conversations on a limited scale. We still go over the basics as according to the textbook, and that includes lessons on personality:

Teacher: “Please repeat, ‘Jenny is talkative.’”

Students: “Jenny is talkative.”

Teacher: “Tina is easygoing.”

Students: “Tina is easygoing.”

Teacher: “Hun is delicious.”

Students: (incessant giggling)

Hun: “I am not delicious! Jay is delicious!”

I think the humor in the situation comes through rather clearly for these students. Let’s just hope they never make it over to New Guinea:


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I’ve started teaching workers at the nuclear power plant from 6:30-8:30 AM, meaning I really shouldn’t have stayed up to write this blog. Good night.

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