As Crazy as a Loon

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Somebody told me once that you know you’re really fluent when you’re using words in a foreign language that not even a native speaker understands. Let me throw that old wives’ tale down. It doesn’t mean you’re necessarily fluent. It just means you’re (say it in Alan Rickman’s voice) an insufferable know-it-all about something niche. Like me and birds.

Officially speaking, I’ve been teaching for a couple of days now. Technically, I’ve had a week’s worth already, because observation kind of morphed into discussion pretty quickly. Highly entertaining stuff, if quite busy. They’re certainly making me work for it out here, splitting me between two schools and two very different worlds, at that – the one a regular state school, the other Catholic private school run by nuns. Contrary to previous teaching jobs I’ve held, the opposite is true as far as their speaking levels go: whilst the private school kids have a far higher level of English, they’re very reluctant to talk. Maybe it’s because I’m a little bonkers compared to what they’re used to, or perhaps it’s something else, I don’t know. But my students over in the IES I was originally assigned to are very quick on the ball, even if they stumble along the way.

There are ups and downs of working in both. The free lunches – the biggest meal of the Spanish day – are a definite up, as is the buzz I get when my IES kids get creative, rather than just parroting what I tell them back at me. The slightly-confusing timetable is a bit of a down, but then, most of my classes are so much fun, and I doubt I’d be doing anything more productive to pass the time anyway. Let that be a lesson to BB over at my main blog, who prefers to pour out his heart and his concerns late at night! In the light of a new day, it’s always a lot more positive. Always.

I’ve been teaching similes this week, on a whim. I don’t pride myself on very much, but I’m pretty good at whim decisions, if I do say so myself. More from the fact that I didn’t really have much of a clue what the kids had been studying besides the omnipresent revision of the present perfect and the present continuous – grammatical points most of us were spared at secondary school level English language! I guess I wanted to use similes because it’s a subject which allows me to use as many animal names as I can think of. A kind of showing off, I suppose. Well, I’m guilty as charged, but they enjoyed it. Especially the expression ‘crazy as a loon’, which I was foolhardy enough to explain – since absolutely nobody knows what a loon is, even if I give them the Spanish colimbo – by standing at the front of the class and imitating one. (Yes, I also tried the more widely accepted alternative deriving from lunar cycles, but that fell on some very deaf ears…) So now I get kids passing me in the corridors copying a loon call. If you’ve never heard of a loon, type Common Loon call into Youtube and see what comes up. You too will then understand then why we say as crazy as a loon. Though I think the person who suits that epithet right now is yours truly. Ending the lesson with a sing-off with one of the students – Toploader’s Dancing in the Moonlight vs Cascada’s Everytime We Touch – was similarly loopy. But as long as they’re learning!

(Perhaps I should have gone with something a little less zany, but there are no similes that use an Eider duck – look that one up if you dare!) BB x

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