Saturday, January 23, 2010

Broken Children

On Mondays and Wednesdays I have a class of 16 year old girls (and one tiny, terrified 14 year old boy). They are at a pre-intermediate level and I have watched their English abilities grow since September.

Sometimes these babbling teenage girls give me a headache. Sometimes they are the sweetest angels I have ever met. It all depends on what they want from me. For the most part I have cultivated a positive rapport with them and we usually have a lot of laughs in class. Where many of the laughs happen, however, are with the other teachers in Mytischi once class is over and we recount funny incidents during our respective days. Last week I had a good one.

I had given my teenagers a writing assignment. They were to imagine that a super-casino was opening in Mytischi (an impossibility as Russia banned all casinos last year) and they were to write a letter of protest to the mayor of Mytischi. We reviewed how to use the passive voice in writing as well as how to ensure there is an introduction, body and conclusion. It took them 20 minutes to write and then I collected all the letters and marked them after class.

Most were well-written, some better than others. One stuck out and cracked me up.

"Dear Sir," It began. "Mytischi is a town with many children." Good introduction and grammar. "If a casino were to open in Mytischi, sex men would come and break the children."

Grammatically correct and the idea was put across, but the vocabulary could use some work. I wonder, however, if this sort of writing is what is required to grab the attention of our politicians back home...

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