So I’m teaching one of my grade 5 classes and we’re doing some phonics practice with the sounds “sh” and “ch.” After doing the textbook portion of the lesson, I like to get them speaking on their own by thinking outside the book and coming up with their own answers that apply to the topic.
I ask all my classes when we’re finished with the book to tell me some more words that start with “ch” and “sh.” (You may see where this is going already.) I did the same thing with every class and it went well – except for one. Class 3.
I ask the kids to close their books and try to think of some other “ch” words. They come up with some great answers. They say: chase, change, child, charge, chain, chair, chin, couch, even chupa chups the lollipops, haha. Great stuff.
Then I ask them to tell me some “sh” words. They are giving brilliant answers: ship, shoulder, shirt, shadow, shark, shallow, shovel and many more. Then one of my best students shoots his hand into the air with his face lit up like he just came up with the greatest answer of all time. I select him.
He stands up, politely tucks in his chair, stands behind it and quietly says “SHIT” then sits back down. The students who heard him start laughing and they all look at me. First there was a flash of cold panic:
Then a moment of consideration:
You could almost hear the kids holding their breath, waiting to see how I would react. It felt like 5 minutes but only a few seconds had passed. I looked at him sweetly and said:
Moving quickly to the next student, I heard my Korean co-teacher say something to the effect of “don’t use bad words,” but even she had a smirk on her face. I hate to say it, but it kinda made my day :) English swear words are something special to Korean kids. Like anyone who learns a curse word in another language, you tend to feel like you’re part of some “insider’s club” because you know something you shouldn’t know and it’s fun to say. I don’t think they get much opportunity to say bad words in front of native English speakers so when they do, it’s a bit of a rush for them to see what will happen when this exotic word is actually applied to someone who speaks the language.
That’s why my reaction was so important and why I had to act like it was no big deal. If I blew it out of proportion, the cursing would increase in no time. I’ve been warned by other public school teachers that this will indeed happen, so I was prepared. I guess that’s what I get for teaching outside of the textbook and letting them do some independent thinking. Regardless, I will continue to do so as that’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Maybe it’s the angsty teen inside me speaking, but it was pretty funny. I just couldn’t let them know that.