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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Russian roulette

The Russians have invaded.

Over the past month, we've had a ton of Russian students as 2-week students. They come to Seoul from the port city of Vladivostok to learn English from native teachers, apparently a rare commodity up north. Go figure. 

It's really a gamble from week-to-week whether the incoming students will be friendly and energetic youngsters, bored and hyper-sexual teenagers, or an odd mix. The students I had two weeks ago were fantastic. Ranging in ages 10 to 12, they were always willing to participate and suffered through hours of grammar and reading class with smiles on their faces, even if it was mostly because I bargained with them that if they completed a certain number of pages each class, we could play games at the end. Hey, it worked!

This week the students are older and HUGE. The oldest students are 16 and all but a couple of them (the youngest are 12 or 13) are bigger than me. Girls, boys -- they grow 'em big in Russia. Maybe it's some kind of strange Chernobyl effect

The one activity that they all seem to enjoy, interestingly, is drawing. I had two Russian classes this week -- newspaper and telephone -- and was absolutely dreading them. I mean, telephone? Even as they walked into class, the kids were laughing about "learning" how to use the phone. 

So instead, I turned it into a pseudo art class where they created drawings and short dialogues about why you would call the emergency number. A couple of my favorites:

Hands-down the best, though, was this intentionally hilarious dialogue submitted by Rotislav and Pavel. (Gosh, I love Russian names. My children are SO going to be Rotistlav, Igor and Lyubochka.) 

Operator: It's 911 emergency. I'm listening to you.
Caller: Hello! I'm having a trouble.
O: What happened?
C: I was fired from my work and I have no money. I want Italian food but my wife can't cook.
O: So why are you calling us?!
C: Oh! My house is burning and my wife is inside it.
O: Don't panic. Where are you now?
C: I'm outside in the garden.
O: And where exactly is your wife?
C: She is on the 7th floor and she is trying to put out the fire with the towel.
O: We're on our way.
Then the caller wakes up because of his wife's voice.
Wife: Wake up! Johnny, get up. Kimchi is on a table.

It also must be mentioned that about a quarter of the Russian students, male and female, wear Yankees hats but have no idea what they are. I commented on them at first, asking kids if they were Yankees fans and trying to tease them about the hats (which all have completely flat bills, by the way) but then realized that no one knew what the NY on the hats stood for. Strange-ee.