Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Diva Goes Down

My Libyan Diva nabbed me in the corridor yesterday morning to plead with me to allow her back to my group after it was decided she should move to a lower one. She had spent one day in the lower group, and the demotion had caused her great mental and spiritual anguish, it seems.

‘Oh, yesterday, I go my house, and I very cry!’ she wailed.

It was tempting to say ‘no, listen, yesterday I went home, and I cried a lot’, but I have always told trainee teachers to react first to what students say and not how they say it. If a student says ‘sorry for late, I am had an accident of car’ the humane instructor delays pointing out that the Present Perfect is not formed with ‘to be’ as its auxiliary. So, on hearing that The Diva went her house and very cried, I offered sympathetic noises, which she drowned out with more pleading and promises to try harder.

‘All my friend, it’s be this class!’ Well, yeah, it’s a sort of ladies’ social occasion at the moment with loads of Arabic chit-chat and a little English chucked in when anyone can be bothered. I wonder they don't bring their jewellery to polish. This is going to get stamped on big time, darling, believe you me.

‘I came back, I make very try! This down class, it's very sad to me.’

Her manner recalled that of the beggars in I used to see in Greece who would climb aboard the intercity buses just before departure and spiel tales of heartbreaking privation, disease and bereavement before passing the hat round. It was not what you expect from an adult at a university - well, not my idea of appropriate adult behaviour at a university, but I'm beginning to see I'm a bit old-fashioned.

Just as I was running out of kind noises and reasoned arguments against her suit, the course director came by, and La Lybienne began to work on her as well. Now, colleagues of mine have had their knuckles rapped for expressing impatience to students who give them the sort of asinine prattle I had just been giving ear to: ‘they are paying customers, you know!’ but the director just said ‘your level is lower intermediate, you need to be in a lower intermediate group, I don’t want to hear any more about it.’ There. No messing. I should have said that ten minutes before, but would probably have got bollocked for it.

Now look again at these:

‘Oh, yesterday, I go my house, and I very cry!
‘All my friend, it’s be this class!’
‘I came back, I make very try!’

This lady, back in her home country is – wait for it – a teacher of English. I am still puzzling over a phrase in an essay she wrote the other week: ‘My husband is blow away, but I very love he.’ If anyone can make sense of that, answers on a post-card, please. I have already considered, and dismissed, the possibilities that he had a violent outburst of temper, that he was a victim of a terrorist outrage, or that he farted in bed.


Michael said...

Laughing out loud. I am afraid for those kids in Libya who are not learning English from a proper speaker of English.

And poor you, to have her plead once more. It's enough to have a person be blow away.

Do you hate it too?
"If you're going through Hell, keep going."

vilges suola said...

Scary, innit? You should see the grammar books they bring with them - no clue that soi much of the language they present is WAY out of date. They must take their examples from Jane Austen.

Bo said...

I laughed myself silly reading this!!

vilges suola said...

Great! It was funnier to recount than it was to experience - I felt like gobbing her one...

Desi said...

Daughter and I have become great fans of La Lybienne and quote her whenever possible.
Are you ok with that?

vilges suola said...

Καλώς την!

Yep, I'm OK with it, and The Diva would probably be delighted!

Any thoughts on the possible meaning of the husband blowing away?

Anonymous said...

As I understand it he was as upset as her at her demotion...


vilges suola said...

Maybe, AG. But I think the use of 'blown away' to mean 'very fucking surprised indeed' is too colloquial for her to have come across, given her limited knowledge of English.

Anonymous said...

You have a wonderful blog. I am a student in America who is considering becoming an ESOL/EFL teacher and most of your posts have me in stitches at one point or another. You have a great, subtle sense of humor that is very effective at provoking laughter.

I love it! Keep the posts coming :D

vilges suola said...

Hi Anon, thanks for the comment and the kind remarks. Very glad it amuses you!


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