Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why do you speak English?

When I lived in the glorious state of Maryland {regarding Ohio, no comment as always} I distinctly remember my mother having a very 1970's looking hardcover on the bedstand titled KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS.

Yes, they do. Particularly in an ESL classroom.

"Why do you speak English?"
~Student A asked me this recently in a conversation about my stamps.
I have many, many. All of which are invariably from Japan.
In response to the question of why I have these Japanese things, I said, "I lived there."
That was followed by a brief moment of silence.
Then, "You lived there? Why do you speak English?"

This is actually very interesting twist to the common expat experience of being a stranger in a strangeland. In Japan the formula was White=>Foreigner=>AMERICAN.
A distinctly skin color-based formula for assessing your opponent in conversation.
(And incidentally there is a sub-rule of Foreigner=can not speak Japanese.)

However, in the little Korean girl's mind, the formula was geographically-based: regardless of skin color, the fact that I lived in Japan equalled I should be speaking Japanese, not English. You could just see the misconnection of reality and facts etched on her face.

However, first week questions top the list for me.

"Why are you so tall?"
~For all the foreigners supposedly around here in Seoul I've always been struck by how misplaced this was. I was never asked this by children in Japan even in the rural areas where it's NOT unusual to be the only foreigner.

Some questions, however, are universal:

"How old are you?"
~As this inevitably comes up not once, but several times I turn it into an ESL activity to practice numbers by making them guess my age. They're always shocked. Even the adults.

"Are you married?"
~Because at MY age, how could I possibly not be?!?!!?
Is the Asain mindset.

"Do you have a boyfriend?"
~Lacking a proper husband, surely I must have one of these to attest to my basic worth as a female. >.>


Cheers! (^_-)-☆

Thanks again for stopping into my little corner of the 'net, and Happy Browsing!!

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1 comment:

Renee said...

Kids are funny :)