27 March 2007

School Daze

Half of the kids in my school have the flu. They've got no energy, which is not all bad; well, it's a change of pace from having to pick them off the ceiling. I'm still getting over a head cold that I had and I think I've got whatever it is the kids have because I've got had to drag myself around the past few days. I guess anyone who works closely with kids gets exposed to all the latest bugs, kinda like a new virus test lab.

I've also been asked to try out a new book on one of the classes. It's a story and a script for a simple play of "Beauty and the Beast". I mentioned that I'd done some theatre work while I was in university and now I think I'm going to be drafted to help stage a play with the kids. It'll definitely be interesting...

I've noticed things about language learning in the course of teaching the adults and kids. The older the students are the more difficulty they have getting the sounds of the new language. The youngest kids don't have much difficulty at all. The oldest students produce some very odd pronunciations of English. Korean has only one sound for F, V, P and B, plus a sort of variation on it that's produced by producing a puff of air when saying it. This leads to some strange sounding English pronunciations. I can't laugh because I know that my own pronunciations of Korean sounds is damned awful, and occasionally hilarious. The way I say "dong (district)" sounds like "dong (animal dung)", which the kids find hilarious. I knew something was up when they kept asking me which district I lived in. Evil tykes, I'll start teaching them colloquial Newfoundland English to get my revenge.

The oddest sounding pronunciations were when I asked one adult student
what he did in his company: "My company make palbis." I puzzled at it for a minute and wrote it out on the board, the student looked at it and said"No, PALBIS! V-A-L-V-E-S." Another adult student asks me to correct her every time she mispronounces anything. I usually let the occasional slip go without correcting students but since she asked me to, I correct everything. One morning she was reading a passage and had to say "fifty-five". "Bippity pibe", I corrected her and got her to try to say "fifty-five" a half-dozen times before I just let it go. It's hard to get someone's mouth to make sounds differently from the way they have for forty or fifty years.

The students were looking up my name in some kind of phonetic translation dictionary this afternoon. I came down the hall and they were saying something about "pig oil". My name maps into the phonetic translation "lard" in this crazy software. (Korean only has one character for R/L, and it's pronounced differently depending on position in a syallable. They pronounce my name as "rawd-uh" or "lawd-uh", I'm not sure why some say it one way and others say it another.) So I guess now I'll be Mr. Pig Oil. Fair enough.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if I ever told you about the Polish guy in TCTI...we tried to teach him to say "Lard tunderin' Jesus" in the Newfie way - The results were impossibly hilarious. It also took me 3 months to learn to say Bjorn's last name correctly. I kept saying Sun or Soon... syllables that were familiar.


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