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

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Less is More

With August comes the mantra of "just a month and a half" and that is an ever growing comfort.

Today Paul made me laugh so hard I thought I was going to choke.

I fight it so hard because I know it just reinforces his wacky behavior, but I am only so strong.

The assignment was to write how to make something (anything) in five simple steps. I walked the perimeter of the oval table to see how everyone was progressing.

I made the mistake of leaving Paul until the end.

His page looked like this:

I'm going to write about how to make... poop.

Step 1: Give all your power to your butt.

That's all I needed to read.

I started laughing, and my multi-pronged donkey laugh gets the kids going on its own, so soon everyone was on the verge of accidentally laughing all of our power to our butts.

That could have been a bad scene.

But seriously, I think that is the best, most evocative description of flexing I've ever read. There's an occasional clarity in the descriptions of people who are just learning English, that sometimes evades native speakers who flog their words. Their minds aren't junked up with synonyms, and words that "sound smart" which I think is the biggest curse of writing anything. When you only know so many words, I think you're required to be more creative with them. Judy didn't know the word for cigarette ash so she called it "fire seed."

It's interesting to observe.

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