Tuesday, August 03, 2004
I Love Teaching English!
Junior High School Student: "Herrrrrrooooooo Banessa!"
Me: "Hello Takeshi! How are you?"
JHS Student: "How are you?"
Me: "No, how are YOU?" (pointing at student)
JHS Student: "Eh?"
Me: "Are you HAPPY?" (exaggerated gestures)
JHS Student: "Ore?" ("Me?")
JHS Student: "Eigo wakaranai yo." ("I don't understand English")
Me: "HAPPY?" (threateningly voiced)
JHS Student: "No."
Me: "Bugger off then, you little cretin." (under my breath)
Some students were rather reluctant to speak English. There is, in Japan, still some serious prejudice against learning English. It has traditionally been thought that the ability to speak a foreign language somehow makes a person less Japanese. Damn right it does! Learning any foreign language necessitates learning the culture that expresses itself through that language, making any learner less a citizen of their country, and more a citizen of the world. For the Japanese to learn that their way is not the only way can be terrifying, seeing as they are instilled with a very strong sense that there is only one correct way to do pretty much anything (introduce yourself, pour tea, enter a room) their whole life. Happily, I run into no such reluctance here. Peru, being a Spanish speaking country, somehow seems to have a European air. And Peruvians are generally open-minded to different cultures, being a right hodge-podge themselves. I think the only thing that is morally problematic in teaching English here is that sometimes it feels like you are wafting the freedom and money that English speaking countries can offer under their noses. It doesn't feel exactly fair, because even though I am teaching fairly well-off kids, very few of them will ever be able to afford to leave South America - let alone get a much-sought after visa for another country. Makes you think...
But I do still love teaching English!