When I Talk, You Don’t Talk

by EmilyEsposito

The only time I ever sing is when I’m by myself. I sing when I’m cooking, washing dishes, or getting ready in the morning, but never in front of someone else. So, I was a little apprehensive to sing “Head and Shoulders” by myself, in front of six different classes (totaling 130 students). Earlier that day, I thought to myself, “What is the worst that could happen? They are just children.”  Well, I’ll tell you what could happen: they could laugh at you.

Yes, that’s right. In almost all my classes, the students laughed at me after I finished singing. Some students just giggled, but others thought it was absolutely hilarious. And one student told me it sounded like I was singing a Christmas carol. I still don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult. Needless to say, I will not be singing in class again. Ever.

My students also make fun of my handwriting. All elementary students write in cursive, and I write normally, not in cursive. It is so normal for me that I don’t even know what that is called. Manuscript? Print? Non-cursive? In any case, I am practically writing in a different language.

After I write things on the board, we have to spend 20 minutes translating the letters into cursive. And the professors says, every time, “Don’t write like Emily. We write in cursive when we’re in elementary school.” My students ask me why I “decide” to write that way. Or some of them try to correct me. They’ll say, “That isn’t how you write an R” or “Why did you write the L that way?” Then they laugh. Again.

Aside from mocking me, I really like most of my students. I have already pinpointed the tattletale, the suck-up, the know-it-all, the slacker and the whiner (there is at least one of each in every class).  My students even feed me: they give me crackers and cakes during recess. And they also rush over (and push each other) to say “hello” whenever I’m around.

French students can be sweet and charming, but they have no concept of silence. I literally say, “When I talk, you don’t talk” 20 times a day. They want to discuss every little thing, all the time. Sometimes they whisper, but other times they’ll talk across the classroom. And this doesn’t happen just in elementary school. When I was studying in a French university last year, even the college students did it! They talked to each other during the whole lecture, and the professor didn’t say anything. At home, in every class I have ever been, it was just common knowledge that we didn’t talk when the teacher was talking.

Don’t get me wrong: I really do enjoy teaching. I love seeing the students improve and they are all excited to learn English (which makes my job much easier). I love having the freedom to teach whatever I want and I usually include a lot of games; which is fun for everyone. One of my favorite parts about teaching is connecting with the students. And receiving drawings:

Yes, she wrote my name as “Emili.” And yes, she spelled red “wintche.” But I don’t care. She liked me enough to draw me a picture with weird shapes and squiggles.

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