Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yet another Friday

One of my students was away for ten days, in Italy with his family. Today he told me all about it. They visited eight cities in ten days, and packed a lot in.

He saw the famous Final Dinner, he said, but had forgotten to wear his good glasses so hadn't seen it as clearly as he would have liked to.

"You saw what?" I asked.

"The Final Dinner," he said.

We stared at each other.

"Oh, RIGHT!" I said, eventually. (I didn't get enough sleep last night.) "Da Vinci, right?"


I told him what it was called in English. He thought about it.

"Is there a reason it's not dinner?" he asked. "What's the difference? And why not final?"

I had to admit I didn't know. "It's just what it has been called," I said, "So it sounds funny when you use different words. Unfamiliar."

"I see," he said, and I think he did. I love having more advanced students sometimes.

In the last class of the day my two soccer students are still keeping me entertained. They always sit together at the beginning of class, which means that they almost instantly get separated and end up on opposite sides of the classroom, because I always count students off into groups at the beginning of class. Usually I want to separate noisy friends, but actually when those two are together they're pretty good, and they certainly keep me amused, so today, feeling in need of a little entertainment, I tried to 'randomly' count them off into the same group. This did not work, mostly because it was the end of a long week and I was not thinking quickly enough to figure out how to do it without being obvious. They ended up separated again, which meant that when I asked one of them to be quiet while I explained something to the class he had to slap HIMSELF in the face, because the other one was too far away to reach. It wasn't a gentle slap either, and after administering it he apologized to me sincerely, with a straight face and irrepressibly bright eyes, and waited politely for me to carry on with the class. (Which I did, with some difficulty. I found I had suddenly forgotten what I was going to say, and had to refer to my notes.)

The slap was surprising, but shouldn't have been. My soccer guys are ALWAYS helpful when a little discipline is called for. I wish all my students were as cooperative in classroom management.

But the other one had broken his hand, so perhaps all the discipline is going to be self-inflicted for a while no matter where they're sitting. At first they told me that the hand got broken when they were beating each other up, but this explanation quickly degenerated into a disagreement over who had been beating up whom, which in turn morphed into an mini-lesson in which I explained the difference between "I hit him," and "He hit me." (Yes, their English level really is that low, which only serves to demonstrate how very good they are at communicating with what little they have.) Once they understood they kindly acted out this lesson for the rest of the class, using the unbroken hand, and very carefully.

Finally one of them admitted that the broken hand was actually a soccer injury.

I pretended not to believe it.

"I don't believe you," I said. "I'm sure it was domestic violence."

There was a shocked silence, and just before they cracked up it dawned on me that they had actually listened to me when I told them that domestic violence was a serious problem and not something to joke about. They had thought about it, and taken it seriously. They had, in fact, stopped using that particular joke.

And then I had to go and ruin it all.

I am really not at my best for my last class on Fridays.


Megan said...

Hilarious. At first I was wondering what "The Final Dinner" was supposed to be and I felt like a horrible Italy-obsessed person. But I get it now. Yay for me not being a total idiot (at least, not all the time)!

Your delivery of the final joke about ruining the domestic violence lesson...perfection. You are hilarious.

Thud said...

There is a difference between "dinner" and "supper" in some parts of the Southern US -- my grandmother's mid-day meal is "dinner" and the evening meal is "supper."

kenju said...

WOW, they did more than we did in 8 days! We went to 5 cities, but only 2 in Italy. I could stay there forever!

Cheryl said...


pkchukiss said...

We all fumble up sometimes, but from the way you describe yours, it almost sounds as if you love them!