I gave my students a writing warm-up exercise today. A lot of my students come straight from work, or from picking up their kids, etc. and I thought it would make a good transition into English class. And it rewards those who showed up on time by giving them extra time to complete the assignment without being unduly harsh on those rushing in a few minutes late. And it’s theoretically a silent activity, which means students don’t feel comfortable greeting their friends, which in turn means I don’t have to give the Glare of Doom. It was a brilliant plan in every way.
The assignment was this:
Imagine you are sent to live in an igloo for the rest of your life. What five things would you bring with you? Assume that you have enough food, water and warm clothing.
Apparently my ESL students didn’t grow up with “I is for Igloo” in their alphabet books. They all asked me what that means, and after I described an ice house, pointed to the Arctic Circle on the world map, and drew a weird little igloo on the board, they finally understood.
“It’s the same in Portuguese,” one of my students told me, “But we didn’t think you wanted us to live in the snow.”