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Balloons, huzhou, less food-related, students, teaching

Latex Bribery

06.01.10 | 4 Comments

Teaching, I imagine, has quite a few similarities to parenting. Parents see their kids at home acting out, letting manners slip, saying and doing things they would never do around others. Then when they’re out in the world, they’re prefect angels and parents are like, “What? My kid?”

Last week I had the bittersweet pleasure of seeing my students at their most angelic. John came to stay with me during the week, and I decided that instead of lesson planning, I would pawn him off to my students. This wasn’t just me being lazy—interacting with him is a really good opportunity for them to practice communicating with a non-teacher, real live English speaker.

There was the inevitable glamour factor of a foreigner; all of my classes oohed, aahed, and applauded when John walked in behind me. And for the rest of class, they were, for the most part, perky, attentive, smiley, and responsive.

First I let them think of questions they had for John, and then they could ask him. While we covered the basics like “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” the students were too preoccupied with questions like “Are you ellis’ boyfriend?”, “Do you like Chinese girls?” and “What kinds of girls do you like?” to find out where he lives or how tall he is (6’6”!).

On Tuesday’s first class, Serena bravely asked if he liked Chinese girls, what kinds of girls he likes, and if, by chance, he likes girls like her.

Someone was smitten!

John kindly replied by giving her a hug.

And making her a balloon.

He totally made her day.

Lisa took the initiative and tried some twisting herself.

And got a hat from John.

I can’t get my students to do this even when I offer candy as a bribe reward.

John had Aha pose for his tiger.

A palm tree for Superluck

And a game for Peach.

Since when do they like class so much?

John even got a few normally shy students to talk to him, like Melissa, who held an impressive conversation with John about what kind of girls he liked. Go Melissa!

Next, Chetty, a very strong student, asked John if he liked to dance. John took that as his cue to ask her to dance. After a lot of giggling and mouth-covering, Chetty finally agreed to dance with him.

He taught her the box step.

I think he wanted to teach these students the Can Can.

John tried to get the ambivalent boys to participate by building a hoop and ball, but they still weren’t too into it.

Thursday morning is my favorite class, and somehow topics turned once again to dancing. Before I knew it, John was lifting Jelly and twirling her in the air.

Then he was chatting with Peter, another student of the normally shy persuasion, but Peter really came out of his shell.

He was John’s assistant. John does a trick where he asks people to blow on the tip of a mostly inflated balloon, and when they do he does something with pressure so that he can squeeze air into the part the person is blowing on, so it looks like they’re blowing air into the balloon from the outside. He did this to Peter.

And then Peter tried four or five breaths to do it on his own.

Didn’t quite work the same way.

It was a real treat to see my students be happy in the classroom. Usually they’re sleeping, texting, daydreaming, or reading other books, try as I might to get them to pay attention. So seeing them laughing, smiling, and listening was a glimpse of how I wish class was every week. Sadly, they’re just not as enthusiastic about English as they are about inflated latex.

I think I’ll let John finish out the semester for me.

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