Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Squids and Vowels

I met a man outside on the street a couple weeks ago. He can speak fairly ok English, but is quite nervous about it. When he asks me a question, he listens very intently, and doesn't seem aware that I can see his tongue flicking back and forth inside his mouth, behind his partially open lips. He reminds me of a garter snake, which isn't to say he's a bad guy, he's positively giddy to talk to me, and I find his enthusiasm catchy.

In the summer of 2004, my foot had a run in with a step which left my big toenail pretty damaged. Finally, the doctor stuck it a bunch of times with a huge needle and yanked the toenail off. It's completely grown back, but is giving me problems, and I often have an infected ingrown toenail thing happening. I've been spending a lot of time soaking it in a bucket full of warm water with mineral salt. I wish that I could wear steele-toe construction boots at work, because I'm paranoid of the kids stepping on it. I'm sure the pain that would ensue would make me have to lie down on the floor and take a nap. If the doctor would agree to putting me out under general anethstesia I'd let him rip the thing out again for a do-over.

Today, as I was up teaching at the board, a little girl closest to me was sticking her leg out to try to play footsie with me. I asked her to please not touch my toe as it was very sore. I know she understood me, as I repeated myself in Korean. She kept gazing down at my foot - and finally, when I wasn't looking, she stretched her leg out far enough to bring her foot down on top of mine. She didn't stomp me, but still. I screamed.

I saw one of my little students outside in the hall today and I had to laugh, because the little guy's face was covered in chocolate. I was then reminded what a Westerner I was, when I realized it wasn't chocolate, but actually spicy hot sauce the kid had been licking off a squid.

I had been teaching the class that included the little foot-monster about the trickery of vowels in English. These kids often pronounce "good" and "book" with the same double "o" sound of "pool."
"Look kids, look how strange English is! 'Good' is not like 'boot,' but it is like 'could,' which is not like 'cloud.'"

In the previous class, we'd been working on long vowel sounds, and I was pointing out that often when a word ends in a "vowel, consonant, e" combination, the vowel is long, while the e is silent. Think "site" or "mate" or "cube." One of my very smart little students said "Teacha -- what about 'love?'"

I laughed, and told her "yes, 'love' usually comes along and screws up all the rules, eh?

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