Friday, January 04, 2008

A Letter to a Young Spanish Student

Dear Esteemed Students of Mine:

It is with great irritation that I write the following to you. It could be construed by some as a "laundry list" of bullshit that I am fed up with. I, on the other hand, prefer to think of it as a rant.

1. Accent marks? are not optional. You see them. They tell you where stress syllables fall. I have told you all time and time again that they are necessary. You lose points for not having them or having them incorrectly placed. For the love of God, get it right!

2. Please stop texting during my class. You're like ocd with it- it's become a compulsion that you need to overcome. Are you saying anything of importance? Like, "OMG i just got that kidney ive been waiting 4". Uh, no. Plus, you're not getting away with anything. I see your hand in your hoodie. I see the damn phone on your chair next to your skinny leg.

3. "tener divertido" does NOT mean "to have fun". You've been given a perfectly sound, although stem-changing, verb, "divertirse". Use it.

4. Apostrophe "s" does not exist in Spanish. Quit using it.

5. "su" does mean "her", but only as a possessive adjective. It is not an object pronoun, as in "I like her." I don't care WHAT your dictionary says.

6. How about conjugating a damn verb every once in a while?

7. Putting "el" and adding "o" to the end of a word, as in "el barfo, el wrongo, el booko" is not funny. (except for the el barfo one, that does make me laugh.) Please stop doing it.

8. You are in Spanish 3 and 4. Stop looking at me like a deer in the headlights when I speak to you all in Spanish. In SPANISH. That's what we're learnin' here, people.

9. When I tell you to use 7 different verbs for a project, I don't mean use them 7 different ways. "Don't eat too much candy" and "Eat a balanced diet" both use the same verb, to eat.

10. Please stop putting your lack of planning and over-scheduled life on my plate. I should not have to adjust MY expectations because you have to work, attend practice, babysit, go to youth group, etc.

11. When did it become acceptable to come to school in your jammies and slippers on days other than Pajama Day?

Here ends the rant. Thank you all for listening. Now, straighten up and fly right!

Mrs. T


Blogger Profesora de español said...

Thank you! I just received a paper from one of my AP students who used "tener divertido" at LEAST 5 times. I have regrets about making her paper bleed red ink.

1/04/2008 8:48 PM  
Blogger Profesora de español said...

*I have NO regrets...

1/04/2008 8:48 PM  

My daughter, MsABCMom just told me to read this. I can relate to each of your points. I especially loved the "deer in the headlights" comment. I'm so fed up with "tener divertido" and the su business and am surprised that you didn't add that it's about time 3rd year students figure out that "usted" and "ellos are not synonyms, nor are "que" and "ese" although they both translate to "that", and "yo gusto" doesn't exist. My favorite comment in one of the 142 essays I read in the last 36 hours was from the kid who suggested "cereal, huevos, y brindis para un desayuno sano". I felt like telling him I felt like drinking rather than toasting after that comment, but settled on the kinder approach of suggesting that he change "brindis" to "tostadas". (Damn translator!) Then there is my colleague, a native of Zaragoza, who finally gave up suggesting native speakers replace "no mas" with "solamente" and after hearing and reading it almost daily, finds herself using. We might as well call it a day and settle on haiga and nadien.

As to the cell phones, I'm so fed up with the hassle of organizing AP oral practice in a class of 38 with 10 tape recorders, that I have been meaning to look into Gcast recording and if I can figure it out, may have my kids cell phone me their orals to be heard on my computer. As it is, we are struggling with 20th century technology and trying to get kids NOT to use their 21st century technology in the classroom.

I have learned to GOOGLE (googlear) obvious examples of plagiarism - not exactly, but almost as fast. I'll never forget the 6'4" football player who turned in a recipe for "pollo arvejada" (the book used guisantes and certainly not arvejas as a past participle). The assignment required that students write about a favorite family recipe - his started "Soy una venezolana casada con un chileno..." What gave that away?! It only took 10 seconds to discover that blatant example of plagiarism.

On the other hand, despite the tedium of reading so many essays on similar topics, I am encouraged to see that many of my native speakers in the AP class are finally beginning to get the difference between synthesis and summarizing and that many of the 3rd year students wrote some really nice essays on the topic "Una vida mas sana", with all kinds of helpful hints on diet and exercise - correctly using the subjunctive! My conclusion is that I need to take their advice - read fewer essays and work out more.

1/05/2008 12:41 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

I'm just a lowly English teacher, but if you change all of your rants to read "English" instead of "Spanish" and add both "you signed up for a COM-PO-SI-TION class, People. You're going to have to WRITE at some point," and "Passing a LITERATURE class requires that you, you know, READ?" and you've got MY professional life, too! The kicker of it is that I teach COLLEGE, and I'm still getting this kind of behavior, text messaging and all...

1/05/2008 8:45 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

HA! Love all of your rants, though at my particular school (yours too??), we must also include:

-Um, yes, you DO need to bring your textbook every day... Did I not make that clear? Oh, and yes, a writing utensil would be nice, too, dear. What... no paper? Please, darling sweetheart, basic school supplies are a necessary part of our daily routine. So sorry to inconvenience you.... ~= (

-Heidi in CA

1/06/2008 11:13 AM  

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