Thursday, 11 June 2009

So we say

Last week we started doing English dialogues over the public address system at school. This happens three times a week in the morning. The idea is that students get another fix of English by listening and repeating. All the dialogues have been printed in book form and distributed to the students, but before they did that I suggested/corrected a few things. No one ever asked me about the naturalness of the conversation and obviously only one person did error corrections on it.

Yesterday was the turn of these two dialogues. They just happen to be the two with which I had the most problems. The important Learning Points are in bold:

Dialogue One:

A: Allow me to introduce my friend to you.
B: I’m very happy to meet you. You are as beautiful as I’ve heard.
A: Thank. Good to see you, too.
B: I’ve heard a lot about you.

Dialogue Two:

A: On the right here is my younger brother.
B: He’s cute. What does he do?
A: He is a lawyer. He is really good with words. He never loses an argument.

My suggestions on these dialogues were never applied because there was not enough time or something, which makes me think that none of my suggestions were applied.

You might not completely agree with my ideas, but these were the things I had serious problems with:

Dialogue one is just plain weird. We never actually introduce the friend. Then, what is it with the Korean fascination with being beautiful, and why do they need to complement people on it all the time (see dialogue two as well). It might be that I generally don’t take compliments well, but if you complement me every day about frivolous things then they become empty compliments pretty quickly. Example, my “favourite” teacher told me yesterday, again, that my dress style is great. I wore normal black trousers and a blue shirt, neither one special or modern. After he said it the first time and it being not true, the rest were, and still are just useless and a waste of conversation time.

Then comes the “see/meet” problem. I understand the problem here with the way it is used in the Korean language, but that is why I made my suggestion about “Good to MEET you too.” Lastly there is the truly out of place part: “I have heard a lot about you”. You finish your conversation as lost as you started it, I see.

In dialogue two I have to ask: “Does it matter at all that this is you YOUNGER brother and that he is standing on your RIGHT?” I mean, as a piece of dialogue that is the main focus, surely these things are just fluff that will confuse the students?

Then comes the part that set me off, just for fun, on Facebook: “I AM NOT CUTE! Yes, I know in Korean it is OK to say that, but this isn't Korean and I am not a Korean. Even thought I am not, it is still OK to call me handsome, or even better, add rugged, but I am not a girl. Don't call me cute” In the context of the first two lines I thought the YOUNGER brother, being CUTE, must be about 7 years old. How wrong I was.

I do admit that most of the dialogues are fine with a few spelling mistake that comes from just one person checking. I am lucky to be in a school with three, yes THREE, English co-teachers who can all have full conversations about anything that interests them. Only one of them has slight pronunciation problems, but even that is nothing to cry about.

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