Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Things They Say... (Part 3.) Mr. Arsehole

"Have you got Mr. Arsehole?"

My ears prick-up immediately. You know you're meant to be able to tune-in to your name if it's spoken in a crowded room? Well, teachers tune-in to bad language with the same radar-like precision. (Unless my name is 'Arsehole'...)


My class of Spanish seven-year-olds are doing 'activities', carefully chosen to give them opportunities to speak English. A group of girls are playing 'Happy Families' in the far corner. 

At the beginning of the year I provided them with laminated sheets of required vocab, 'Have you got...?' 'Yes, here you are.' 'Thanks very much.' 'No, sorry, I haven't.' That sort of thing. Over the months, the children used them less frequently. Now they don't need them any more. But where did they get that word?!

I move quickly over to where they're 'playing'. There's no furtive giggling behind grubby little fingers. They seem quite relaxed. I move in closer. I'm sure it was María who'd asked. I sidle up behind her hand. She has Miss Pipe the Plumber's daughter, Mrs. Siren the Policewoman and- Ah, now I see it. All is explained and relief floods my veins.

She has a set of three and is searching for the fourth. She has Mrs., Miss and Master, and only needs the postman to complete the set.

Mr. Parcel.

Time to get my ears syringed, perhaps?


If you like the blog why not read the eBook? Zen Kyu Maestro, An English Teacher's Spanish Adventure available from Amazon. 
For a free sample chapter, click HERE.

 

5 comments:

  1. Hi Jeremy

    Your tale reminds me of an incident I experienced while teaching 9 year olds in Barcelona years ago. I walked into the classroom one day to see the word "FUK" written in chalk on the board and the kids giggling away and looking at me furtively.
    Not being too experienced in that kind of situation I decided, however, to play it lightheartedly and I asked the class what everyone was laughing at. One girl who was obviously the culprit pointed at the word on the board and giggled and I looked at the word and looked back at her puzzled... She then asked me : EMisez, do you av chilldrin? to which I smiled and said :yes and she then said in a cheeky tone: Zen you did it!

    I had to stop myself laughing at this stage and, as calmly as I could, I remarked that in that case you should spell it correctly and added the 'C' to the word and then pretty fast proceeded to wipe the board before the director walked in as she sometimes would. The kids seemed to be satisfied with my response and we continued with a positively sparkling lesson:)

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    Replies
    1. Hi again,
      thought you might be interested to know that
      ZEN KYU MAESTRO: AN ENGLISH TEACHER'S SPANISH ADVENTURE
      is now available from Monday Books/Amazon. It's the story of my first year teaching Spanish junior children, in English, in an 'immersion' school in Spain. It started as a series of articles I wrote for the TES in 2006/7..
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=zen+kyu+maestro&sprefix=zen+kyu+maestro%2Caps%2C254
      You can download a free sample if you want to check the style and content, it's similar in tone to the 'Things they say' parts of the blog, but it includes details of surviving in a very 'Spanish' part of Spain, when I had very little Spanish. It's not a re-hash of the blog as I wrote it before I started the blog.
      There is a facebook page to 'Like' (Zen Kyu Maestro) if you're into Facebook, where you'll find details and background and news of my next projects.

      If you enjoy it, please tell anyone else who shares an interest in languages/education/travel/living in other countries.
      All the best,

      Jeremy Dean

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  2. Great tale! I admire your courage. Sometimes the best lessons are the ones you haven't planned at all...

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  3. Reminds me of my own son (brought up bilingual with German but living in the UK). His first word, of which he was enormously proud - "Bagger". This is the German for "digger". He would cheerfully shout "Bagger" at every digger we saw, and especially when he wanted to play with the toy one at nursery. Shame the "a" sounded rather like a "u". That took a few explanations to young and impressionable British nursery staff!

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  4. Wonderful story. I think it's the complete innocence with which the 'naughty' word is said that makes it so funny.

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