My Students Are Nuts


No, not that kind.


  • I am in class with a group of primeros de bachillerato, a.k.a. high school juniors. “Finland is a country in Northern Europe…” I say, blathering on about some point that my co-teacher, José María, would like me to cover. A bewildered student raises her hand, twisting her blond hair around her finger. “Teacher,” she says in heavily accented English, “no entiendo. ¿Qué es eso de IZUH?” (Translation: “Teacher, I don’t understand. What does ‘izuh’ mean?”) I stare blankly at her for a second, not understanding. Finally, a light bulb clicks on in my brain. “Izuh, ohhhh, izuh,” I say. “Is…you know, the third person form of ‘to be.’ A, you know, ‘un’. Right?” She stares at me. Izuh = is a, girl friend.
  • I am with a group of segundos de la ESO, a.k.a. 8th graders. They don’t understand much, but simple stuff? Yeah, they got that. “The weather today is…” I prompt, hoping they respond. They don’t. “Hot?” They stare at me like I’m speaking in Mandarin Chinese. “Hot?!” I repeat. Surely they know “hot.” Surely…My co-teacher, Arturo, interrupts impatiently. “Hhhhhhhhhhot!” he practically shouts at them. Then I hear the sudden “ohhhhs” of twenty 13 year-olds who finally get it. I just had to say with an accent. Oh okay.
  • I ask the 17 year-olds what they think of the Spanish school system – if it works well, poorly, etc. They say it’s fine. One students spouts off, “It’s way better than the U.S. one!” (In Spanish, naturally. He doesn’t have the vocabulary to say this in English.) I ask him if he’s ever been to the U.S., seen a real live classroom. Nope. Of course not. It’s way more fun to watch sitcoms and assume that all the cheerleaders are pretty, skinny snobs and the football players are dumb jocks and television is real.
  • I ask my 14 year-olds for their favorite Spanish dishes. One says excitedly, “Espaguetis!” which is, you know, Italian. When I mention this fact, the boy could not look more crestfallen.
  • I wear my hair up one day. (We all have bad hair days, don’t we?) A 12 year-old student with hair like Justin Beiber tells me, “You looked better before…” Thanks, dude!

They’re not horrible; don’t get me wrong. There are gems and I love them to pieces. But the funny ones are, well, funnier.

8 thoughts on “My Students Are Nuts

  1. Mine share similar opinions about my style of dress, choice of makeup (or non), among other things I want to say is none of yo’ business! Can you imagine if we had told our teachers in high school that we preferred their hair another way, etc. ??

    Do you use TPRS (acting out vocabulary)? For example, until I found out just how useful it was, I, too, would be prompting single-word vocabulary and then having to give my crazy face for them not knowing the words! Saying, “Hace calor” with a hand motion looking like you’re about to sweat to death leaves much more of an impact than doing nothing.

    I think it’s funny they only get it when you say it with a Spanish accent. I’m sure they love that midwestern you’ve got going on ;) It’s so nice that they can have a native speaker in the classroom.

  2. Hy Kaley,
    I discovered your blog ago some months ago when i was looking for blogs written by english speaking person, just to practice my English, but I hadn´t post anything before.
    Usually higth school students are a little bit stupid, i know it because I ended the 2nd of Bachillerato 4 years ago, but in general the level of the education in the rest of the subjects is much higher than the english classess.
    It’s a horrible truth because I think English should be more important, and there should be more teachers.

    Anyway good luck in your Instituto.


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