Adventures from the classroom 10

Me: Is it an island? Student: No teacher
Me: Is it Guatemala? Student: No teacher, it's Cuba

The tenth installment of 'adventures' comes to you from a new location. I recently started work at a university within the same system as my last employer. On first impressions the university is bigger, with more students and is more developed and organised. The support staff even do a half decent job of keeping the place running smoothly. However I just today I witnessed the university trying to shoot itself in the foot, in a spectacular way.

In the main courtyard, they erected several marquees to host visiting groups from nearby schools. However when I came into campus today, the marquees were being used as exhibition stalls for other universities in Oaxaca. Good idea guys, lets get the kids to visit our university . . . and hear about how great all of the other state universities are. This brings me on nicely to a phrase used by several of the incumbent English profs here . . .

Mexican logic:

I have talked before about students not possessing basic study skills that we would consider common sense. Well, you'll be glad to know that it's no different here.

"Is the answer A, B or C?" . . . "don't know teacher"

Just choose one. Please choose one, pleeeeeaaassssseee. It has  to be one of them.

. . . 

"I no know teacher."

They're also not the best at grasping the objective of games or quizzes in class. I spent five minutes explaining the idea of "20 questions" to guess a country. The trick of it is to ask questions which can narrow the number of options, for example:

"Do they speak Spanish in the country?"
"Do they eat a lot of rice?"
"Is it a big country?"

"OK ready teacher, let's go".

First question: "Do they like chicken?"
errr, I guess so

England 1 - 0 Mexico
Second question: "Do you like chicken teacher?"
Yes . . . well, no that's not the point of the exercise! Let's try again

"Is it Germany?"
No, don't just say the country, try to deduce the answer!

"Do they like to dance"
mmmm, kind of

"Do they eat German food"
I've already said it's NOT Germany. Try again.

"Do they eat the chicken?"
Stop . . . bl . . . ahhh I give up.

Ironically the answer was Turkey.

I can't help doing these exercises in class to have a giggle at their 'lack of cultural awareness' shall we say.
One class thought that they speak English in Panama, that they only eat rats in China and that "Shout Africa" was the venue of the 2010 World Cup.

Students with dictionaries tend to hug them tightly like a child's favourite teddy bear. I often try to intervene to speed up proceedings.

"What word are you looking for?"
* blank look

"What word are you looking for?"
- Yes

"No, What word? What word?
- ¿Qué?

- ahh . . . qué

"Yes, wooorrrd" (point to a word). "Word . . . word."
- Teacher qué???

"Palabra . . . word"
- ah sííííííí. Palabras.

"Well . . . What word are you looking for (pointing to dictionary)?
- Teacher?

And that's Level 5 everybody.

Satisfied students?

Ahh, I can't stay mad at the little darlings for long though. The kids here are a little more mature, independent, and industrious. It is a welcome change. The university apparently has a very high standard within Mexico for the Nursing course. Just don't let them work abroad in an English speaking country!

Being that little bit more mature doesn't always help though as they are not as keen on shushing each other to keep class noise down. My previous classes would shush the noisy ones, then shush the shushers and everyone would join in shushing until the noise was deafening.

sssshhhhhhhh ssssssshhhhhhhh sssssshhhhhhh sshh!!!

The only way to stop it was for me to shush them all.

More of the students here live independently as they come from across the state (Miahuatlán only has 30,000 people). This new found independence often makes them confident enough to have a good old moan.

"oh bloody book"
Me: "Buy the book, we will use it tomorrow"
Them: "No teacher, no money, no want"

. . . the next day

Me: "Hold up your books, I want to see them above your heads"
Them: "Noooooooooooooooo, no book no book!"

I can tell you, getting earache from me moaning at you each lesson is a lot worse than paying the 50 damn pesos for the book!

Punctual principles:
Another piece of fine Mexican logic here is the employment of five 'punctuality checkers'. These people go around all of the classrooms checking that classes start and finish on time. Well there's certainly no chance of me finishing late because of the omnipresent choruses of "finishclassteacherfinishclassteacherfinishclassteacherFINISHCLASSTEACHER! . . . Teacher, TEACHER! . . . finish class yes?"

I have no problem with my punctuality being scrutinised, but there is no one to check the quality of the classes that are being taught. That's Mexico for you. Showing up isn't half the battle, it's the whole shebang!

I do wonder though, if the clipboard Nazis have an overseer themselves. The whole system would fall apart if they were late or weren't doing their jobs properly.

Don't push me, push a . . .
. . . wait a minute, "rape" flavour?!?!?!
Talking about punctuality, the students can't seem to wait to burst into their classrooms on the hour. They push into class, push onto the bus, and never with a thought spared for the poor old teacher stuck in the doorway or at the front of the cafeteria queue. I certainly don't demand a high level of respect from the students, but it would be nice to teach them to be considerate of others. My normal tactic is to lean in an shout "Por nada!" as I hold open the door for the 10th person. Oh what it is to be British.

Troll Teacher:

You should know by now, that I like to get my own back on the students once in a while. It's not difficult, just ask them a question in English and they attempt to melt into the concrete floor and slide under the door to escape.

One recent quiz question was "How many world cups have Brazil won?" Answer - Five.
The boys in the class looked especially smug for getting it right, so I asked "Well, how many have Mexico won?" Answer - Zero.


"How many world cups have England won?" Answer - One
"Yesssssssss!!!!" (run up and down the front of the class doing mock celebrations)

After the 20 questions debacle, I told them they could ask me three questions. I fielded a few more questions about whether I liked chicken or Germany then one girl asked

"Do you like drink beer?"
Ahh, I see. A neat way to work out if I was a cool teacher, or if I was a square.

"No I don´t like drinking beer" I answered to a sea or silent and disbelieving faces,

"I love it!"
"Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" they all cooed.
*Walk out of class like a rockstar

Right, I'm off to cook some German food. Chicken and sauerkraut anyone?