Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Kissing the Communist

One of my classes is of foreign students. It is a small class, with one Vietnamese and five Chinese students. All are women, and in their twenties and thirties. These are real beginner students (two of them hadn't studied English at all before my class, and one had to learn the alphabet) but they have made huge progress. This is because they want to. They have less English than my usual students do, but they use it more.

Yesterday they wanted to talk about Christmas. They want to learn some Christmas carols. The Vietnamese student said that she has a CD of Christmas carols, and will bring it to class next week. It has Silent Night on it, she said. She loves Silent Night.

One of the Chinese students commented that Christmas was a Christian holiday, wasn't it? I said it was, and she wanted to know if I was a Christian. The Vietnamese student said that she was. She is a Catholic. Everybody learned the word religion.

The Chinese student who had asked the question said that she had no religion. The other Chinese students agreed, but then one decided that she did after all. She looked it up.

"I'm a Communist!" she said.

The others laughed at her.

"That's not a religion!" they said, and I thought, Well...

"Also," said the first student (the best English speaker), "I think it's not very good." She shook her head sadly, tut-tutting and looking wise.

The Communist put on a look of exaggerated dignity, and hit her. Everybody laughed.

After that, every time the Communist said anything or looked at anybody, everybody cringed exaggeratedly and whimpered, "Don't hit me!" (In English, of course. They asked me how, first.) The others told me that I have to give her an A, or she might hit me, too. I said I was frightened (one of last week's words) and yes yes yes I would give her an A, and when the Communist looked daggers at me I cowered. Then the others decided that the best way to placate a Communist was to kiss her, so they started kissing her, mwah! mwah! mwah!, and she squirmed and shouted, "No! No! I'm angry!" (another of last week's words), but got the giggles.

It was all very funny, but I couldn't help wondering if there was a serious undercurrent in there somewhere. I also wondered if I was being politically incorrect, going along with the joke. Maybe I should have used it to introduce a bit of political discussion, like a proper teacher.

But I didn't. At that level of English it is too much trouble. I just joined in, and threatened to kiss the Communist.


Ms Mac said...

Proper teacher schmeacher! Go with the fun, it's nearly Christmas after all!

Cheryl said...


kenju said...

I suspect they have learned more this way - and it will stick with them longer.

allan said...


If we could all learn to kiss the unknown.