21 December 2007

Lesson of the Day: Pigs Are Awesome

Today, much like Wednesday and Monday, and next week, I was correcting and reviewing scripts for student's show and tell presentations which they will do early in January. It's been incredibly frustrating, because I have reason to think the English level in the scripts is generally below the testable level of the students -- second year middle school. In worst case scenarios, I might describe the scripts as "impressionistic", as in, I can get only an impression of what they're trying to say. The problem is, major grammar mistakes. I don't know where they got these from, but they're pretty consistent. With maybe 25% of the scripts, it seems to be laziness rather than lack of understanding. Starting sentences with "And", "But", "Because" or "So" is just plain bad grammar that any native speaker's English teacher snapped at them about at some point or another. "Because, the reason is because..." came up a few times. I hope this pattern did not come from a text book, or I'll flip out and take out a whole village. Other big problem is, students trying to overshoot their previously stated "testable English level". This is commendable because they're trying, but, if they're making up sentence structure and grammar as they go long because they want to say in English what they'd like to say in Japanese, it's yabai. The top 25% of the scripts are, however, fantastic. Basic but succinct, charming English. There's one that's by far the best thing I've seen a student write, and I want to share it with the world.
Hello! Today I'm going to show you a pig doll. It's about 2000 yen [CDN $17.50]. It's name is "Boo-chan" [something like "Oinky"]. He is very pretty because his nose is big.

My grandmother gave me a pig doll in Safari Park four years ago, but there aren't any pigs in the park.

Do you like pigs? I love pigs. Pork is delicious and pigs are a lot of fun.

Thank you.
I actually cracked up laughing in the teacher's office when I read the last line. BRILLIANT!


Café Chick said...

Pigs, cows, sheep ... seriously, how much fun can they be? lol

Adam said...

Awwww, you so cuuuute... can I eat you now?

After reading this, out of curiousity, I decided to take a peek in my textbook. Sure enough, this is what I found:

"Oh, these apples look delicious."
"They're for apple bobbing."
"Apple bobbing?"
"Yes. You have to get a floating apple."
"That sounds easy."
"But you mustn't use your hands. You must only use your mouth."
"Do I have to put my face in the water?"
"Of course. That's the point!"
"OK. Let's have a try!"

You may now attack that village of yours.