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zebra crossing?

9 Jun

Fun fact: Apparently in British English, what I have always known as a ¨crosswalk¨ is called a ¨zebra crossing.¨

No really.

Other adjustments throughout the year have included:

  • an eraser is ALWAYS called a ¨rubber.¨
  • bathroom or restroom is simply ¨toilet¨
  • ¨Do you have…?¨ became ¨Have you got…?¨
  • A trusty backpack is either a ¨school bag¨ or even a ¨rucksack.¨
  • Sweatshirts don´t exist. Instead, you wear either a ¨jersey¨ or a ¨jumper.¨
  • Cookies are ¨biscuits¨ but that´s fine since chocolate chip cookies and other American classics are a complete foreign concept here.
There are many more differences, I´m sure, but these are the ones I have experienced most often with my 1st and 2nd graders and their British textbooks.
Does anyone have any other funny examples of words lost in (English) translation?

to clarify.

10 Mar

This seems to confuse every student at my school…so to clear up any lingering doubts:

This is a chicken.

This is a kitchen.

And finally, this video has helped remedy this problem for some of the kids in the Infantil school.

mi colegio.

18 Oct

It´s Monday during my 3rd week at school (but let´s face it, this is my first full week…and by full week I mean Monday through Thursday) so I thought I´d share some facts about my school.

I work out in Northern Madrid, in an area called Las Tablas. It´s situated by the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, but there´s really not much out here, besides some University dorms and the occasional farmacia. I leave my apartment a little bit before 8 to start work at 9. I am the sole language assistant at my school (cole, short for colegio as it is more commonly referred to) meaning that I move around a lot from classroom to classroom.

I have children ranging in age from 3 to 2nd grade, and while they´re all cute, their English is pretty limited. I spend a good amount of time listening to them in Spanish, but the program insists I speak only English. Many various humorous anecdotes have emerged in my short time here so far. This morning, one girl was lamenting about how cold she was, so she insisted upon saying ¨culo frio, culo frio, culo frio¨ (cold ass…). Another demanded to know why I wasn´t married. When I told her it´s because I´m not old enough and am really just a big kid, she asked ¨then why are you a teacher?¨ Definitely couldn´t come up with a response for that one.

Most of the kids are fascinated by the fact that I have blue eyes and blonde hair and that I can basically only speak English to them. Things they´re not able to comprehend, however, include the fact that I speak English but am not from England and that I don´t have any ¨hijos¨(children).

Stay tuned for more misadventures in English (assistant) teaching…

(Not so) Lost in Translation

6 May

Last night marked my final meeting with my language partner, Hang. Since early last October, I have met with a 26 year-old Vietnamese woman (as well as her husband Xuan and her cousin, Van, who each had their own partners) for an hour at Berkeley’s YWCA to practice her English. This was through a program called English in Action.

Over the course of the year, I learned a lot about Vietnamese culture (every word in Vietnamese is one syllable, for example) as well as how certain American traditions are viewed from an outsider’s point of view.

To celebrate my graduation, Hang and her family took me to a restaurant called Le Petit Cheval (which is right next to the YWCA on Bancroft) for some Saigon cuisine. It was a lot of fun trying food I’d never had before and laughing at my feeble attempt at using chopsticks (if only I’d ended up half-Japanese, right Mom?). Hang asked me if her English has improved (it really has) and she said she used to be nervous around me because I was like a teacher, but then she got more confident because I am more like a friend…super nice/endearing!

While the food was delicious (especially the lemongrass chicken and the prawns), the service was embarrassingly terrible. The manager was unbelievably disrespectful and rude. Xuan explained to me that he felt slighted by the waitress, because when we entered he addressed her in Vietnamese using a colloquial term meaning “sister” and she continued to refer to him as “son.” All of this was very interesting – and on our way out, this same waitress was actually SPEAKING to a potted plant outside. Xuan exclaimed ” I thought retarded people weren’t supposed to work!” Mildly offensive, but also really funny.

All in all, I am glad I signed up for the program and was able to learn a lot from them. As we were leaving, they told me that I had to invite them to the next milestone in life – a graduation, or a wedding…or according to Hang’s cousin, Van, my funeral. Good times as a language partner with the YWCA.

In case you’re interested:

Berkeley YWCA

English in Action

Le Petit Cheval