For those keeping track, you’re probably still on the edges of your seats in anticipation of Ayutthaya, Part 2. Well, get comfortable, because my busy ass is busy. Time consumption and promised posts aside, my blog would be bereft if left without irregular posts about my students. I’m a farang because I’m an ajarn, after all.
Earlier, I addressed how I felt about teaching university students. To use a vocabulary word from the third fourth of the semester, I was—and still am, I think—a little anxious about the whole bestowing-knowledge thing. If there’s one person who perpetually lives in a cloud of brain fart that stifles the nostrils of edification, it’s this guy.
Thankfully, a lot of my students have yet to catch a whiff. In fact, my English 2 academic class melted my heart last week when half of them cornered me after class and said, “Teacher, you teach English 3 and 4? We want you for all Englishes!” They persisted even after I assured them that I’m significantly harder as the levels progress. That, readers, was a good afternoon. (In fact, it was my birthday.)
English 2 has been the most revelatory of my classes. Their English proficiency is the lowest of all of my classes, so the insight they give me into how Thai students perceive and construe English has been invaluable. They also bust their asses for me—at least most of the time. As opposed to my conversation classes, which meet only once a week, I see my English 2 students three times a week, which has permitted me to watch both them and myself develop as the semester has progressed.
But enough sappy, I’m-a-rewarded-teacher stuff. It’s time for the meat of this post, which are, rather, memorable trimmings from my first semester here.
I think that idioms and expressions are a crucial aspect of any language; understanding the inner workings of the semiotic structures of anything is an invaluable procedure that any serious language user—native or not—should pursue with appropriate levels of rigor. Also, it’s just fun to explain ‘to kill a bottle’ and ‘to play the field’ to 19- and 20-year-old English-language learners.
To get some creative juices flowing, I had my students invent their own expressions in English after playing a Jeopardy-style game introducing the concept. I asked for an expression or idiom, its part of speech, an explanation of its usage(s), and a sample sentence. Below are five of the better ones (unedited), where ‘better’ means the spectrum of what ‘better’ means.
1) big face (adj.): it means to show off
ex: The old woman has a big face when she merits in the temple because there are so many people.
—Poor people cannot use it.
—Rich people can use it.
2) Milk spill = the chest of woman.
When you see another woman’s chest example: when the women wear the jerkin [jersey/ tank top, I later learned] and they are not be careful enough then the other people will see their chest easily
I heard the boy beside me talk about her milk spill. that sit opposite me.
3) Beam without collumn [sic] (n.)
— Meaning. Beam and collumn is a thing that is need to come together. And it can’t missing each other. So beam without collumn is like. When you missing something that is very important.
Situation – when you go or do something. But you forgot a something which is very important.
Example – That fisherman look like Beam without column. He forgot a rod.
4) Pick a flower – take a leak.
During a driving, when a woman want a toilet but cannot find. She’ll go to the glass [grass] inside [beside?] the road for take a leak. Her act is like she is picking flowers.
Example – While I’m driving, I saw Malee’s picking flowers inside road.
5) menstruate = The blood red day
ex. The blood red day is coming then I feel upset.
This idiom should use with the women because only women will have the menstrual period and the menstruation is red and all women will get upset so then the women have a menstruation we called the blood red day as women menstruate.
This last expression stunned me, and in an absolutely great way. Before she handed it in, the student asked me if this was a good answer. I told her it was excellent. Fine, it’s not an idiom and probably only slightly a metaphorically grey expression, but fuck, who cares? I loved her candor, enthusiasm, and originality. Besides, for 3.75% percent of a grade—the assignment was to fulfill their Special Project grade—I’ll happily give her credit for her gusto, even if she did miss the various intricacies and shades that go into an idiom. Fucking whatever. Way to go, student.
Tonight is a dinner out and a very reluctant good-bye: one of the first people I met here—a vet who took was always ready with friendly guidance—is off to America before a jaunt in Australia, which itself is a prelude to India. She will, quite obviously, be goddamn missed.