I’ve been growing concerned over the past few months because of a rash of broken bones at my school. At least once a week, my students tell me that someone is absent because he “broke his leg [or arm].” The first time or two, I didn’t give it much thought – after all, these kids are very physical and broken bones have to be expected. But the stories of broken bones kept rolling in.
Last month, two students in my after-school class were missing on the same day. Absences are rare in that class, so I noticed immediately. The other students explained that they were injured while playing soccer. They went to the hospital after one broke his leg and the other broke his finger. The next day, another student broke his leg playing soccer. This can’t be normal. I think it’s time for the school to invest in some extra milk.
The day of my open class, a few weeks ago, Mr. Kim informed me that one of the foreign (American) teachers who was slated to visit our school and watch my class would not make it. He said that Anthony broke his leg. Apparently this is happening everywhere, and not just to students.
On Tuesday of this week, I went to another foreign teacher’s open class. As we were waiting for the class to start, I asked a lady from the Office of Education about Anthony’s injury. She said that he is doing well, but the burns on his leg will take some time to heal.
Wait…what? Did he burn himself at the same time as he broke his leg? Was he in a car wreck or a house fire? She explained that he spilled hot water on his leg and sustained a serious burn. But she was unaware of any broken bones.
As soon as I got back to school, I asked Mr. Kim about Anthony’s injury again.
Me: Mr. Kim, do you know what happened to Anthony, the other foreign teacher who missed our open class?
Mr. Kim: Oh, yes. [Translation: I don’t have a clue what you just said.]
Me: The teacher who broke his leg, do you remember?
Mr. Kim: Yes.
Me: How did he break his leg?
Mr. Kim: Because very hot.
That’s when it hit me – “broken” does not necessarily mean fracture. I thought back to the students who “broke” arms and legs. Some of them never even wore a cast, but I was so busy that I didn’t pay any attention.
Now I’m one step closer to speaking Konglish. “Broken” means injured. I also learned that “hospital” can be a reference to any doctor’s office. So next time someone is at the “hospital” because they “broke” their leg, it is entirely possible that they are at the doctor’s office for a rash.
Until next time.