Saturday, October 27, 2012

Funny Kids

My students are pretty awesome. They are eleven years old and they can already speak two languages. Their English has improved so much this year. But occasionally they make mistakes. Here are a few of my favorite examples.

1. As much as I've tried to fight it, in my class 'broom' has become a verb. As in, 'Miss, may I broom the floor?'. Yeah, I hate it too. But at least my kids know the difference between 'can' and 'may'. I guess you need to know when to pick your battles.

2. After reading Harriet the Spy we watched the movie. Later we discussed the differences between the film and the book. One student said, "In the beginning of the movie there was a stoller". It took a few rounds of me saying, "What??" and him repeating the word "stoller" before I figured out what he was talking about. He meant to say 'thief'. But you've got to give the kid credit for making up a new word.

3. One morning a student was telling me about his dog. He said, "My dog wears a tinkle around her neck." This one didn't take me quite as long to figure out as 'stoller'. He meant that his dog has a bell attached to her collar. 'Tinkle' was close. Too bad it means something totally different than he thought.

4. Last term things started heating up inside my classroom. The girls realized that boys didn't have cooties and vice versa. Not knowing the word for 'date', one student kept saying, "Miss, I am boyfrear with Mateo." This is more funny if you are at all familiar with verbs in Spanish (the infinitive ends in -ar, -er, or -ir). 'Boyfrear' is definitely my most favorite made up word ever.

5. Of course, I've saved my personal favorite for the end. This is an example of words not meaning the same thing in English as they do in Spanish. Two girls I taught last year came up to me one morning to chat. One of them looked pretty awful. I asked her what was wrong and she seemed embarrassed. Her friend told me that she had her ruler. Now, this made zero sense to me. Well, as it turns out the word 'regla' doesn't only mean 'ruler' in Spanish. It's also a word they use when a girl has her period. I really, really, had to try not to laugh when I figured that one out.


  1. You can definitely feel pretty awful if you have your ruler! Loved it - I often wonder why "regla" is used in that sense in Spanish.

    I hope Mel reads your blog! I thought of her when I read about the tinkle on the dog!

  2. I think "boyfrear" is my favorite too.

    As for the "ruler," a Russian student of mine once said something about her "parade." When I questioned her about it, it turned out that she had overheard the word "period" when visiting the US, but to her, it sounded like "parade" and she'd been calling it that ever since.

  3. Having little to compare in crossover languages I can only tell of couple 'what did he just say' moments when I was visiting the UK and overheard people casually talking about 'knocking up'(1) this girl at 8pm, or picking up a 'faggot'(2) this afternoon - why? - to throw on the fire, what else?

    knock up (1) pick up / knocking on her door.
    faggot (2) bundle of wood

    Don't you understand English? Well no, at that time, apparently not >>smile<<.

    I'm sure now that I am here I will be in someone's blog post for something I say - at least I hope so because it will mean I am making progress - who knows, maybe I can coin a word or two >>smile<<.