All of my students are taking speaking tests this week, and I am administering every one. My desk is constantly cluttered with grading sheets. It means that I’m super busy, but it’s a nice change from the normal boredom in my office.
The high school students are all doing self-introductions. Because students learn introductions in two or three weeks leading up to the test, they all learn the same basic script. Generally, the lower the level, the less variation from student to student. It’s the difference in motivated and creative high-level students who compete for the best grades by ditching the script, and low-level students who memorize it word-for-word.
I have spent the entire week listening to students stumbling through the same two-minute spiel about 350 times. As you might imagine, it was starting to feel like Groundhog Day. Yesterday, as the introductions were running together in my head, class 1-6 (the lowest-level freshman class) jolted me out of my daze.
The kids in class 1-6 must have learned a slightly different script than the rest of my students. Of the 37 kids in that class, at least half of them told me that they came from a “poor family”. I couldn’t believe my ears. I started to really feel bad for these kids. No wonder they are low-level; their parents can’t afford to send them to after-school English academies. They all said something like this:
Me: Tell me about your family.
Student: I am from poor family. Mother, father, brother, me.
Me: Oh….uhhhhh…..what is your favorite food?
Student: PIJJA! (pizza)
I was so busy feeling sorry for these underprivileged students that I didn’t notice when some of them said, “I am from pive (five) family” or, “I am from sree (three) family.” I sat there like a moron, not realizing what was happening until a student said, “I am from seven family.”
They weren’t saying “poor family”; they were saying “four family.” I’m an idiot.
Until next time.