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

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Black Shadow Knows

"Horrified."

I wrote the word up on the board, followed by a colon and "very, very, very, very scared."

"Easy," I assured the sleepy students, "If you are horrified, it means you are very, very, very *pause* very scared by something."

"Teacher, I am question!"

"Really? I though you were Joseph. Okay then Question, what can I do for you?"

Yukyukyuk.

"No, Teacher, I have a question!"

"Ohhhh! I see, what's your question?"

"What is 'horrified?'"

"Isn't that what I just told you? *sigh* horrified is what you'd be if you woke up in the morning and found a vampire in your bathroom."

"Vampireu?" he asked his best friend sitting next to him.

"Dracula," the friend replied noncommittally.

"Aaaah! Is scary?"

"Yes, you'd be horrified if you saw Dracula in your bathroom, or like, a giant spider that was as big as your bed."

"Noooo! I fight it! Everyday!"

"Everyday huh? Everyday you'd fight a giant spider in your bathroom?"

"Yes! Every day I fight and win!"

This sort of rountine could go on for a long time, so I just let it be, as noraebang patrons, and to a lesser extent, the Beatles, often say.

We read some short paragraphs with a few other idioms. I explained the term "make yourself at home" like this:

"Joseph, remember last week when you and Jin-hyuck kept asking where my house was?"

Laugh.

"Yeah!"

"And remember how you also said you wanted to come to my house and knock on my door, then when I answered the door you two would rush in, play computer games for 8 hours, and then when you were leaving you would finally say 'hello'?"

Uproarious laugh.

"Yeah!"

"Well... that's 'make yourself at home' too much."

If you can explain something by even a limited anecdote, it tends to sink in a bit more. Mostly though, it's in one ear and out the other, so I'm always pleased when the kids can show me they've learned something.

Towards the end of the class as I was erasing the whiteboard, the boys' chattering suddenly came to a hushed stop.

"What?" I asked.

"Black shadow!" Joseph said.

"Black shadow?"

"Yes, Big Teacher walk by the door!"

The boss of our academy sometimes makes his rounds through the hall and peeks in through the top of the small window in the door. He is very tall and almost always wears a three-quarter length black coat.

"Black shadow..." I chuckled to myself.

"Is horrified!" Jin-hyuck said with a big grin.

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