Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Yesterday I turned up well prepared for my morning classes. Actually I turned up well-prepared for all my classes, with a short test, except that I'd forgotten that I had promised not to give the test in the afternoon classes. I'd promised to do it next week, because three or four students had already told me they would be absent this week. They were worried about the test and I told them that I'd shift the date.

This meant that in fact I was unprepared for the afternoon classes. It was during one of the morning classes, while I had the students marking each others' tests and going over the mistakes that I found the note to myself in my teaching notebook. The note said,

Do something different for afternoon classes. Test next week.

Before lunch I thought about what to do in the afternoon classes, and decided to use the handout I have about fashion. My students always find plenty to interest them with that, and seem to enjoy it. I find fashion boring after five minutes or so myself, and somewhat depressing (what's it all ABOUT? Do I HAVE to keep up?), but that isn't the point, really. The point is finding something that will interest my students.

At lunchtime I was thinking about the first class after lunch, which is one of my favourite classes of the week. Science students are funny and interesting even when their English is rubbish. They try, and they make progress. Also, they are mostly guys, and at eighteen/nineteen guys are jumpy bundles of hormones, easy to tease even at my advanced (to them) age.

When I went to photocopy the worksheets about fashion I found myself thinking, Nah, how boring, I'd rather teach them how to say diarrhea. I put the fashion worksheet away and fished out the 'aches and pains' worksheet instead.

It was a good choice. My science students thought diarrhea was the most interesting English word they had ever learned, and had a lot of fun with that worksheet.

While I was teaching the vocabulary by demonstrating hiccups and dizzy and so on, one lad sitting near the front was gazing at me with his mouth open, fascinated. After I'd finished nausea and everybody had made a note I asked him if he had a question.

"You're a very good actor," he said, admiringly.

"I practice a lot," I told him.

He stared a bit longer, then added,

"I love you."

"I love you, too," I replied, and wondered whether he was always inspired to love by the sight of a woman apparently just about to throw up. He blushed, and his classmates hooted. He tells me he loves me quite frequently, and I usually pretend not to notice. I don't know what came over me yesterday.

Then, after class, the two bad boys of class (who aren't really very bad) came up to me while I was packing up my things. One wanted to tell me that he HADN'T gone to the toilet to have a smoke as I'd teased him for doing. He'd had a STOMACHACHE, a word he'd just learned.

"Maybe you ate a lit cigarette," I suggested. "That would explain the stomachache AND the smell of smoke."

"I love you," interrupted his friend, and I replied, abstractedly,

"I love you, too," I said. (I was feeling particularly mellow yesterday.) Then I said sternly to the smoker, "That was REALLY BAD TIMING. You should go to have your smoke when you don't have a partner waiting to start an activity."

He stared at me disbelievingly, then turned to stare disbelievingly at his friend.

"What did you say?" he asked.

"I love her," said his friend, smugly.

"See?" I said, wagging my finger. "Takayuki loves me, and he never causes trouble for his partner. He's a GOOD student. You should learn from him."

They cracked up. The idea of Takayuki being a good student was, apparently, wildly funny.

Then they left.

Those two both missed the first class of semester. They turned up loudly in the second week, apparently determined to be shocking and outrageous. So far they have been shocked and outraged on a regular basis. It is enormous fun shocking and outraging them.

I finished packing up my things. Was that sexual harassment? I wondered. And if it was, who was doing the harassing? I probably should be careful about this sort of thing. I could get into trouble.

In my last class of the day, of mostly girls, one bunch of students was rather distracted for most of the class, but I was feeling too mellow to care much. All was explained when class was over and one of the girls approached me as she was leaving, surrounded by her friends.

"Sensei! Sensei!" she said, full of news she just had to share and so happy her feet were barely touching the floor. "I have a boyfriend!"

"Oh, my goodness!" I said. "When did that happen?"

"Yesterday!" she confided.

She blushed and giggled, and I could get no more sense out of her. Her friends, however, told me that this was her first ever boyfriend, which explained her excitement. I wondered how she had suddenly acquired a boyfriend. Did he suddenly come up to her and say, "Will you be my girlfriend?" I don't know how these things work these days. Did he get one of his friends to talk to one of her friends, and sound her out? What? I wanted to ask, but I was tired and also wanted to go home. I decided to ask her next week, if her new boyfriend lasts that long.

I congratulated her. They left, giggling and happy, leaving me to worry about it. What if he's a lout? I thought. That cute little flower could end up with a broken heart!

But there's no point worrying, really. There's nothing I can do about it.

And anyway, she might end up happy, like me.


tobeornot said...

I love you.

Badaunt said...

I love you, too. :-)

Sravana said...

I hope she ends up happy... :)

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Don't you just love the declarations of love from the boys here. Mind you, I've never told them I've loved them back... wonder how that would go down in class....