Friday, January 25, 2008

Michael Jackson

"Hello, students. How are you today?"

"Fine, teacher."

A new student--a grinning boy with slender fingers and absurdly long nails--sits in my class. I take role with his Korean name and ask if he wants to take an English name. Standard new student procedure.

He giggles. "Jack!"

"Well, ok. Jack it is."

"Like Jack Sparrow."

"Do you like that movie?"

"Yes. I think very much I like."


Later, in the staff room. "Hey Gwen, that new boy--Jack--has really long fingernails."


"A new student. In intensive class, faculty room. He chose the name 'Jack' for Jack Sparrow."

"Do you mean Michael?"


"He's not new. He studied here a few years ago. He's Brenda's brother. His English name is Michael."

"Well... apparently he wants to change it to Jack."

"Jack Michaels?"

"Michael Jackson." Lots of giggling. "He looks like his sister."


We are discussing litter in class. "What is the man in the picture doing? Jack."

"Me? He is..." Jack pauses, struggling for the word. "Teacher... example: Harry Potter rides and fly."

Pause. "Do you mean 'broom'?"

"Ah yes! Broom. Thank you." Jack thinks again. "He is broom clean. Litter. Bad."

"Do you litter?"

"Yes." He giggles. "In my room litter. Trash throw. Mom not happy."

"What about on the ground?"

"I am thinking. Sometimes. Maybe. Trash on ground. Yes."

"Is that good, Jack?"

"No." Pause for thinking. Suddenly his face lights up. "Teacher, this project is perfect!"

"What project?"

"I will litter stop. People throw trash on ground, I stop." He smiles and nods, very satisfied.

"That sounds wonderful."

"I know. I am very kind."


In Brenda's class we are learning detailed physical descriptions.

"Students, who has long fingernails?"

Brenda shouts, "My brother!"

I can't help laughing a little. "That's true."

"I am very smart."

"And not a bit modest." She looks up the word.

"Ah teacher. I know. My brother, too. Our family is a little bit strange."

I nod and shake my head at the same time.


The next day:

"Hello, students. How are you today?"

"I am very happy!"

"Why is that, Jack?"

"Because plenty of sleep, I got."

"Oh, that is very good."

"But homework I am not doing." I give him the disapproving face, but he just giggles.

"How is your project going, Jack?"

"Today I am success. No trash on the ground. Success."

1 comment:

  1. This is great! I feel like I got to bear witness -- in your writing here -- what it's like in your classroom with your Korean students.



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