Today I had a new student in my Saturday class for middle school kids (their names are Andy, Grant, and Eric… and I am only responsible for Eric’s English name). The new student is a seven-year-old Korean boy, who was saved being named Patrick because he already has an English name. He’s been studying English for 2 years but his mother wants him to come to my Saturday classes to improve his conversation. Also the boys like these classes — they are as impressed by a girl gamer as older boys are.
What we usually do in weekend class is talk about videogames and play some English Hangman (which I call Alien Abduction and the victim goes into an UFO instead of a gallows. Because Hangman’s pretty morbid, if you think about it) or Bingo or Meg May I? and I correct their grammar and give them some new words and new forms.
Anyway, this new boy. He takes English and Korean, in addition to regular school (which is longer in China than at home) and also plays the violin and piano. Once I got him off his cellphone, we started class. But my lesson was on verb tenses. I started by asking everyone what they did over the weekend and what they like to do so we could say “last weekend I playED football, next weekend I WILL play football”. The poor kid had no idea what he does in his spare time because he doesn’t have any!
I tried to remember that he’s only wee, but he spent the rest of class asking for harder vocabulary words. He didn’t want to admit when he didn’t know them, which was extra fun for me. (Hello? I didn’t ace my GREs to take crap from seven-year-olds!)
After class, his mom came by to ask me why I didn’t give him any homework. Um, he’s SEVEN! He’s taking a Saturday class in his third language! Shouldn’t he be off coloring or poking bugs or something? And besides, he has homework — he can look up “legionnaire”, “paleolithic” and “passive periphrastic.”