This week, my students have been doing show and tell. By this, I mean that they have to bring something from home, show it to the class, and tell them about it. It's pretty entertaining, to say the least.
As everyone in the United States knows, this is an activity that's done as a small child. You're learning to speak, you're learning to communicate your ideas, and you really, really want to show off that rock you found yesterday. It's a blast.
Ever wonder how it could be better?
Make high school kids do it.
They were given more rules than "bring something and talk about it" because I know how that would've gone. I gave them a whole check-list of things, and it's obvious who wrote it down. Halfway through their presentation, there'll be an awkward pause, some frantic Hungarian spoken, and then they would explain something else on the list.
Kids are the same everywhere. Many girls show off their friendship bracelets or gifts from their boyfriends. The boys brought sports jerseys, gifts from grandparents, and one not-so-discreet handoff of a girls key chain. Even if I didn't see it, do you really think I'd believe you carry a little stuffed pink pony around?
Teaching a language in a foreign country teaches you to understand people without knowing the meaing of their words. This is a skill that I hope to keep for the rest of my life, because it's quite useful.
Not sure what I mean? Let's have a little example:
You (the teacher) asks the class a question such as, "Do you understand the directions I just gave to you?" Instead of an answer, 9 of the 15 kids start jabbering away in their language, and you have no idea what they're saying. Is it:
A. They're discussing the directions and the best way to follow them.
B. One (or more) students don't understand, and the others are clarifying for them.
C. The latest episode of "The Vampire Diaries" had a shocking ending, and they're arguing over what will happen next.
D. The teacher is the coolest person in the world and I wish he would hang out with us all the time.
Although the answer is usually D, it can be any of them. How do you tell? You guess. The troublemakers are pretty obvious, and they're usually not helping.
On the other hand, the look on a student's face when they get reprimanded for explaining something to another is not very uplifting. This language barrier is a disadvantage.
Remember making secret codes in school so that no one else could read notes between you and your friends? My students have been taught their code from birth. After this job, I'm sure I'll be able to find work deciphering secret messages. What a back-up plan!
Now, the Hungarian word of the day:
This is a verb that means "to read". Why is this appropriate? Because I'm supposed to be conjugate it (among others) before my Hungarian lesson tomorrow. Instead I'm talking about it here. At least I won't be holding a pink pony key chain.