Europa-thetic At Spelling

, , , , , | Learning | March 26, 2020

(I’m in sixth grade in this story and everyone in my class has been assigned a presentation on a body in the solar system. It is my turn.)

Me: “For my presentation, I studied Jupiter’s moon, Io.”

Teacher: “Okay. And how do you spell that?”

Me: “I… O…”

Teacher: “Oh.”

(She didn’t ask me any other questions.)

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Even Language Teachers Have Language Barriers

, , , , , | Learning | March 22, 2020

(I am working as an online English teacher for kids in China. Sometimes during a lesson, a kid might not understand what he is supposed to do. The most direct explanation would be to explain it in Chinese; however, there are three reasons why this is the last resort. The class is supposed to be immersive and the students should not hear or speak Chinese during the lessons. My Chinese is not good enough to carry on a conversation. Despite my best efforts, my accent confuses kids who have not had much English experience and they think my Chinese is just more English they do not understand. Here is an example of what can happen when I resort to Chinese.)

Me: *circling the fire truck on the screen* “What is this?”

Boy: “What… is this?”

Me: “No, no… What is this?”

Boy: “What is this?”

Me: “No…” *still circling the firetruck* “Zhege shi shenma?” *“This one is what?”*

Boy: “Zhega shi shenma…”

Father: *laughing and saying in Chinese* “No, the teacher is trying to speak to you in Chinese. He is asking you what this is.”

Boy: *sheepish chuckling* “Oh, oh, oh… It’s a firetruck.”

(The rest of the class proceeded much easier as he got better at recognizing the receptive language. It’s nice when there is an English-proficient parent around to bail me out.)

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I, For One, Like Roman Numerals

, , , , , | Learning | March 18, 2020

(On my senior trip to an amusement park, due to the fact it’s a school-related trip, we have to do something educational before having free reign. The last thing we do of our educational part involves a math problem where we’re to only use roman numerals — no 1 or 5, it has to be I or V. We’re also not given a key for keeping the numerals straight, so I decide to use a loophole and scribble my own key “I: one,” “V: five,” and so on since they never said we couldn’t do it that way.)

Staff Member: *looking at my paper, pointing at my key* “What’re those scribbles?”

Me: *jokingly, though I admit my tone may have been unclear* “What? You don’t doodle when you think?”

Staff Member: *leans in* “Don’t be a smarta**.”

(To be honest, it’s probably one of my favorite memories of the trip.)

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A Frustrating Type Of Teacher

, , , , , | Learning | March 18, 2020

(When I’m 14, in the early nineties, I’m very shy and hold my parents in high regard. For Dutch class, we have to write an application letter to a fictional company. It’s Monday, the first hour of school, when this happens. I’ve just turned in my application letter and we’re supposed to be reading a piece of homework. Our teacher is very old-school.)

Teacher: “[My Name], come over here, please.”

(I go up to his desk, feeling very anxious about being in full view of the whole class.)

Teacher: “What’s this?” 

(He holds up my application letter, which I typed on our computer; I even went as far as to type up the envelope.)

Me: “That’s my application letter, sir.”

Teacher: “Why did you type this? I told you to write it!”

Me: “Well, my dad says companies nowadays like to see letters typed up on a computer as it shows you can type and use a computer.”

Teacher: “But didn’t I tell you to write it?”

Me: “Yes, but my dad…”

Teacher: *interrupting me and sounding really annoyed* “Who would know about these things better? Me or your dad?”

(Oh, boy, wrong question.)

Me: “My dad, sir, because he works at the employment agency!”

(The teacher turns bright red.)

Teacher: “OUT! NOW! AND DON’T COME BACK THIS WEEK!”

(I literally legged it out the door as the class went wild. That day I learned that telling the truth isn’t always the best idea. I didn’t tell my dad this until years later. He found it hilarious!)

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Those Counselors Made Some Poor Computations

, , , , , , | Learning | March 16, 2020

Years ago, I attended high school in a very small town. This was when computers were just becoming commonplace in schools. Seeing the writing on the wall, I decided to take a typing class.

My guidance counselor denied my request. His actual words were, “You’re on a college track; you’ll be able to hire someone to type for you.”

Remember, this was a small school in a small town. The counselors’ advice was considered infallible. I couldn’t get his denial overturned.

So, I went off to college totally unprepared for the growing need for computer skills, the most basic of which is typing.

The other guidance counselor denied my request to go to the vocational school for automotive training. I believe he said it was because I was a girl and it was an unrealistic goal. I love cars, had watched my dad and uncles do maintenance and repair, and could diagnose problems by feel, sound, and smell. That counselor denied me pursuit of my dream career.

I hope guidance counselors today listen to kids and advise accordingly. Those two men cost me dearly.

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