And I thought I’d be teaching numbers and colors…

11 Nov

Working in the vocational studies department of a high school has proved to be both rewarding, challenging and a good laugh. As much as I’d like to say that there is never a dull moment in class, I’m teaching databases. So many of the moments are in fact quite dull. (Except for the one day where my students confused version with virgin). However, thanks to my teacher, Manolo, we’re able to incorporate a little fun every now and then into normal classroom activities.

Monolo keeps a very lighthearted classroom, partly because his students are 19 years old and above, and partly because that’s just the way he is. On the first day of school, after the normal introductions, he went around the class giving out nicknames such as “always complaining about something”, “mr. romantic”, “only girl in the classroom” and “always wears earrings” – just to give me a little insight into the the students.

And as an English student himself (he takes night classes at an institute) he also has the mentality that he wants to teach the students as much English as possible – including slang and non-traditional classroom vocabulary. That is how we arrived to this afternoon’s class.

Manolo found an article in a magazine “Speak Up” for Spanish speakers who are learning English. The entire article, which I’ve uploaded here:  TheLastLaughpdf is about websites gone wrong. For example the “Expert Exchange” company’s website – – could easily be confused for a completely different type of site. Since the article incorporated both English, computer science, and a little humor, he thought it would be perfect for me to teach.

Rather than give you the entire play-by-play, which you can probably imagine if you read the full article, I’ll skip to one of the short sections, which reads:

“If that’s embarrassing, then so is ‘Speed of Art’ a sight for designers. Its address:”

Luckily, the magazine came with a definition for the word “fart” (which is pedo for my curious readers). While the students laughed, I could tell they didn’t quite get it. Then came the question:

“Emily, what is Speedo?”

Normally when I get questions, I just offer the direct translation into Spanish. But when I don’t know that, I have two fall-back options: acting it out and drawing it on the board. Luckily, I had enough sense not to try to act out this question.

I went to the board and quickly tried to draw my best impression of a man in a Speedo. Although I’m not one to brag, it was a pretty good depiction. Everyone started laughing and my teacher said:

“Ok, we get it. But why does the guy in your drawing have to be so fat??”

My Lesson of the Day: My students may still get tripped up on grammar sometimes, but they’re going to be able to hold their own on the streets.


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