Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tall duck and handsome.

The English language is not easy. But there are days when we hear some great "mistakes". Several words that are often spoken incorrectly are snacks/snakes, smell/smile. The children ate the snakes in the canteen. Ooops. You mean the children athe snacks in the canteen?

The lady had a smell on her face. You mean the lady had a smile on her face?

There are many of course - too many to recount. But today I heard a new one. I had been reading a piece about Valentine's Day and how the girls were looking for someone tall, dark and handsome. There were a series of questions, and some came back with the answer - which was not the answer to the question I asked, but they wrote in their test paper "tall, duck and handsome." Well, it sounds like it doesn't it.

I have been doing assessments on spoken English. It is hard for some of the students, and getting them to say a few sentences about simple things is not always easy.

Can you tell me a little about your mother? Usually the answer is "She is very beautiful and is a kindly lady. She loves me very much and I love her very much." In fact it is surprising that most students, male or female will recite such stories. Everyone is "beautiful" "handsome" "honest" and "kindly".

Now it is not about limited vocabulary, but this is what these students will say about their families. One does wonder sometimes if this is genuine - and I feel it is, but I do wonder if they are telling this story to the foreign teachers as they would not want us to know anything but good about their parents and their lives.

Curiously asking about grandparents is somewhat different. Many of them when asked if they have a grandparent will answer "yes", but when you ask a question about the grandparent, you might find that they are dead. And they know nothing about their lives.

Or you might hear about a grandparent that no one wants to talk to because no one likes him. Sometimes I feel like I am intruding on family "secrets" and backpedal quickly.

I keep on comparing these students with the students in Australia, that I am more familiar with.

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