Before I came to Spain I had no idea who my students would be or where I’d be teaching. As I near the end of Year 2 of teaching abroad, I could not be happier with most of my classes being in-company ones; I had no idea how much I would love teaching adults.
Classroom management issues, administrative headaches, parental pressures, grading, paperwork and so much more are a thing of the past. The biggest issue I have to manage is keeping students speaking in English. So when they tell stories about their everyday lives, one area that gets a little complicated is when they use “adult language.” It’s not complicated because I’m uncomfortable or anything like that, it’s just that they can’t express themselves as fully as they’d like to – that is, until today.
Well it actually began last week with my beginner group when Rosie was telling the other three students and me about her iPhone being stolen. She was doing a great job speaking animatedly and completely in English, until she veered off the English track to call the thief a “cabroncete”. When she finished, I decided that this was a teachable moment just waiting to happen if I’d ever seen one.
So I asked the class if they knew how to say “cabroncete” in English; and when no one responded, I filled the silence with “a-hole”. I said that the whole word is actually “a**hole” and we spent the next minute working on its pronunciation – back and forth with me saying “a**hole” and them saying “ash-ol” back and forth and back and forth til it sounded good enough that if they’re ever in NY and need to yell at someone like a cab driver, well, they’ll be understood well enough.
As I left class that day I had the “A**hole Song” by Jimmy Buffett in my head and thought that maybe I could use it in a lesson. When I looked at the lyrics I found that they were actually pretty good for a beginner class – understandable and with some good grammar points. So I decided that today would be the day that I would bring Jimmy Buffett into their lives. And to my students I say, “You’re welcome!”
In the days since I made that decision, I found myself a bit nervous when I thought about the one student who is quieter than the others and I was in their place of business after all . . . but I threw caution to the wind and am so glad I did because when I played the song for them, they . . . LOVED it! They were laughing and smiling and even took some notes. The version I found on YouTube had spelling and grammatical mistakes in the lyrics, which just made the video even more educational than had originally been planned.
Check it out for yourself: http://youtu.be/3i6OrOZwtmA