A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Luck of the Konglish

One interesting thing about teaching is that you have absolutely NO IDEA what will come out of a student's mouth at any given moment. I was greeted today by Minwoo who was the first student to arrive. After I turned on the TV for him, he looked pleased and asked:

"Teacher, you know the lu-lu?"

"Lu-lu? Is that a cartoon character?" I asked.

"No! Like ah... electric... water... come here!" and he ran off to the bathroom and pointed at the toilet.

"You mean the toilet?"


I then explained to him that I was indeed aware of toilets, and that thankfully they weren't electric.

Next to arrive was Joseph, who is perfectly described as a lovable doofus.

He skipped into the office with purpose.

"Teacher! What is the... this?" pointing to his neck.

"That's your neck Joseph."

He was immediately completely uninterested and skipped away as purposefully as he'd came. Apparently he was expecting a far more exciting word; perhaps "head's arse."

A few minutes later, the two of them came running with eager grins to spare.

"Teacher! You know um... is plant... is four... lucky?"

"Clover?" I asked "Four-leaf clover?"

"YES! YES! Watch," Minwoo said and they broke into a planned sketch.

Joseph pretended to look for a four-leaf clover while Minwoo crept up behind him with a melodramatic evil grin. Joseph bent over to pluck the imaginary clover, just as Minwoo leveled an imaginary gun and let fly— missing— as shown by an array of whooshing slow-motion bullet noises and hand gestures.

"Is lucky!" they both said together.

"And Matrix!" Joseph added, likening the bullet dodging to that infamous scene in the Matrix, which the kids tend to say as if it was a dude's name, like "Matt Ricks."

After I applauded them on their shtick, Minwoo ran off, but Joseph stayed to give a less articulate, but undeniably Joseph-like encore.

He bent over again, presumably after another clover, and said:

"Teacher! Ahhh... is strangee and plant and this... ahhh... ARSE! and middle and BAHHHHH!" the final noise being that of a self-inflicted "dungchip" Joseph gave his vulnerable backside.

I guess those lucky clovers can go both ways.

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