Saturday, December 12, 2009


If you want a good laugh, come to our school, pick any child, and ask, "How are you?" You will get a very rhythmic "I'm-fine-thank-you-and-you." Ask another child and you will get the same exact answer, same rhythm and everything. Some children see me in the morning and cry out in one breath, "Good-morning-teacher-how-are-you-I'm-fine-thank-you-and-you." Really and truly you have to hear it to understand the rhythm with which they say it. I can bob my head to the motion.

My first order of business was changing my name from "Teacher" to "Miss Elizabeth." That being successful, I copied Valerie and started stressing other answers to "How are you?" Every morning we go over "I'm great!" "I'm happy!" "I'm sad." "I'm angry." (They love this one!) "I'm scared." (Also a hit.) "I'm tired." "I'm sleepy." (Also a hit, as I emphasize being sleepy by laying my head down--they love to lie down and pretend to fall asleep.) "I'm hungry." "I'm hot." "I'm cold." It's a lot of fun, but invariably, when I ask them, "How are you," they churn out "I'm-fine-thank-you-and-you."

You really want to laugh, ask a kid how old they are. Understandably, this question is nearly identical to "How are you?" Still, it is funny to ask a kid, "How old are you?" and hear "I'm-fine-thank-you-and-you." One of my 5th graders had a birthday recently, and when I asked her how old she was, I got the standard reply. The other kids picked up on this and laughed and corrected her. She laughed too and gave me the correct answer. (Eleven.)

I'm not laughing at the kids or making fun of them. It's very cute, and it's a sign of how much English they know--they know enough to answer the question--and how little they know. How much work we have to do. My kids now, if I ask how they are, they'll give the standard reply. I'll ask again, emphasizing the words, and giving them a look, and then they'll think and give me a better reply. Getting better!

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