Warning: this post contains bad language.
… or should that say “bad language teaching”?
In every teacher’s career there are times when the unexpected happens, when something occurs in the class that is not planned, which the teacher – ostensibly in control of the class – must address with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of grace. Over the years teachers hopefully develop the skill to act with aplomb at such vulnerable times, to cover over the unintentional gaffs and save face as a credible educator.
These occurrences become the entertainment of staffroom lunches and the fodder of retirement speeches because, let’s face it, it’s always healthy to laugh at ourselves.
Here’s my first confession of such an occurrence in this public forum: picture a year 7 German class full of boisterous students on the cusp of puberty who, though well-intentioned as learners, nevertheless have hormones starting to play around with bodies and minds.
The task was to create menus in German. Resources included online dictionaries, the interpretation of which I was modelling to the class, as students were not yet used to using bilingual dictionaries.
One student asked what a muffin was called in German, so – plugged into the projector – I typed “muffin” into the dictionary search line. This is what came up:
Immediately – thankfully, before the students – I see I will be in trouble with the second entry. I also know I can’t turn off the projector, because I am modelling how to read the dictionary. So I explain how the order of entries are based on usage, and how “muffin” is an American slang term for female private parts which we Aussies don’t use.
Then quickly I ask for the next food word example so I can change the screen and divert these hormone-rabid students back to their work.
Phew! Crisis averted … this time …