So this is the second week of the semester. The first week back I thought my students had used all of their summer break forgetting everything I taught them last semester. But this week they were back in the swing of things.
I have one student I quite like, even though she is a bit prickly and stubborn. She has made it clear, I am not a good teacher. The story: Last semester we had a speaking test. It really wasn’t a speaking test, more like a test for memorization. The students were given 5 dialogs to memorize, and were graded on a point system 1-10, with 10 a perfect score. This is the only test I actually administer. This student did pretty good on the test. I gave her a 9. I wanted to give her the 10 she asked for, but she made several mistakes in the beginning. I let her start over, and she did excellent, hence the 9. I couldn’t give her a 10 because that is the perfect score, and she did have to restart the test. ( She is one of the lower level students, and although I don’t like grading on a curve, I am a bit more lenient for the lower level students than I am for the upper level students). Anyway, I digress. She was most unhappy with the result. She did make a valiant attempt to sway me, but I was unconvinced. I was then informed that I was a very bad teacher. She wouldn’t speak to me for the rest of the semester (she did do all the classwork I asked for). This semester, she decided to forgive me. Until today.
This week we are discussing personality adjectives. The worksheet has two parts: The first part is a finish the sentence exercise, and the second part is opposites. The first one is: Kind is the opposite of__________. I let her group use “unkind”. 10 minutes later I hear “Teacher, finishee” I know, I am trying to get them to pronounce the final d, but I think it is a losing battle. Anyway, I digress. I thought it was rather quick, especially since the lab (upper level) students took much longer. Well, they used the rule “un” = not, but I had to break it to them that unstingy, unhonest, unrude, unlazy, and unshy were not real words, and they couldn’t use them. She was most upset. I am back to being a bad teacher. I met her in the halls between classes and she turned her face away from me so hard she almost hit the wall. I am a bad teacher, I did laugh. She tried really hard to not laugh then decided to be angry with my laughter. I don’t think she is going to talk to me the rest of the new semester.
I do love the way my students use the language though. Sometimes even though it isn’t “correct” it is still pretty cool. I usually put them in groups and have them struggle with the words and their meanings, or the sentence structures. I want them to own the language, not just get the right answer. In English, there is more than one way to express something, and I want them to have that power.
So some of the sentences my students have come up with:
A stingy person has a selfish mind.
A lazy person doesn’t like to wake up in the morning/ doesn’t like to endeavor.
An honest person speaks only truths and does good things
An impatient person tells everyone to hurry up
An ambitious person only wants passion for work, not to be happy. ( I like this explanation, even if it would never show up in the dictionary)
An arrogant person is not modest
A shy person doesn’t like dangerous things. (maybe not, but it is close enough)
An easy-going person is a cool guy /doesn’t like to be upset.
My favorite opposites are:
Kind is the opposite of bad
Stingy is the opposite of shopping/ helping people.
Honest is the opposite of tricky/ illegal action/ hypocrisy
Rude is the opposite of courtesy/decorum
Lazy is the opposite of industry/liveliness/ diligent
Shy is the opposite of friendly/stately
I know they are using their dictionaries so some of them don’t really understand the nuances of their word choice. I also know “that’s very creative” is high praise in my upper level classes, so I am getting through to some of them. My goal is to make English something they can use to express themselves, and of course, have fun. Plus it makes me smile when I grade their papers.