More Evidence of Student Insanity

Here are some lines and snippets of conversation from student-prepared dialogues I’ve heard this week during conversational English exams:

Student A: What are you doing these days?
Student B: I’m selling drugs.
Student A: (shocked silence)
Student B: What? It pays well, and I sell drugs, but I don’t take a medicines! Let’s change the topic of conversation! What are you doing these days?
Student A: I’m studying criminology. You’re a really good subject of study! How often do you go out to sell drugs?…

At this point they launched into the “How often do you____? Where do you ____? When do you ____?” type questions we’d trained at using, which could have been boring but the student had this very inquisitive, scientist-like look on his face as he asked the questions that made it hilarious: he’d thought up a context where a rather hokey battery of questions made perfect sense.

I’m adult magazine model!

says a tubby, homely guy—somewhat reminiscent of Chris Farley—with a huge smile on his face.

My father is a fish-man!

I’m seeing 1950s comics marketed for boys here. He meant fisherman.
Another declared:

I’m a Martian tourist! It’s a tired job, but I’m interesting.

I’ll bet you are, kiddo.

My father is a restaurant.

He is, is he?

My weekend driving movie.

I still don’t know what the hell that means. I asked if she meant that she goes to drive-in movies but after explaining what a drive-in movie is, I realized that couldn’t be it.

Do you have any time for your housekeeper?

Yes, because my mother is housekeeper.

Student A: Do you have is a nuclear family?
Student B: No, I’m an only child.


Student A: What do you do at night club?
Student B: I’m take off my coat and dance my body.

You only remove your coat?

My parents do the Muju.

Muju is a popular ski resort in Southern South Korea. I think the student’s parents were from Muju.

I’m very difficult!

The student was talking about soccer.

I’m taking photograph with Julia Roberts these day!

How nice of her to join you on your rambles.

Student A: Are you Japanese? (The student then launched into a greeting in Japanese.)
Student B: No, I’m not. I’m from another star. I am an ET!
Student A: Oh shit!

Sometimes students tried to adapt content from the book to the test situation, like the line, “Great party, isn’t it?” This worked with varying degrees of success:

Student A: Great testing, isnt it?
Student B: Yes, it’s a very… uh. Test.

Yeah, man, I come to tests like this all the time.

Student A: I wanna close with you!
Student B: I go to watering plants. Let’s go to drink with me next time.
Student A: Bravo!

Oh, yes, Bravo!

Student A: What’s your special skill at your job?
Student B: My special skill is sexy walking.
Gord: Really? Show me.

She didn’t.

Student A: How’s your job?
Student B: Oh, I’m really existed!

Me too.

I’m going to school very hard these days… (sigh)

One student I had to ask not to make fun other other cultures in my class:

Student A: Where are your parents from?
Student B: My father is from Africa. You know? Oo-ga oo-ga! Haha.

She was scratching her armpits like a monkey as she said that, and I couldn’t help but think of the story of the Nigerian man I wrote about the other day, who spent 5 months in police custody without a charge and under severe duress, including torture by the police. I see a direct relation between the attitude of the student and the culture’s turning a blind eye to this man’s experience and experiences like his.

There were lighter moments, a lot due to role-playing: on discovering that his best friend’s parents were cops, the son of a gangster declared:

Oh my God! It’s a paradox!

I think this one owns a dictionary and knows how to use it, guys!

My bitch in Buan is very good!

This, I realized after a moment, was actually a mispronunciation of beach.

Student A: What do you do?
Student B: It’s a secret, if I tell you I have to kill you.
Student A: Me too!
Student B: Really? What do you do?
Student A: I am America spy. I live Iraq.
Student B: Really? I am spy too!
Student A: Where do you live?
Student B: I live America. I am Iraq secret agent.
Student A: Oh no!
Student B: Yes. If I see you again, I will kill you.
Student A: Okay. It was nice talking with you.
Student B: You too. Take care.
Student A: Bye!

Ah, they ever remembered to be polite. How sweet.
When, in the middle of conversation between two guys, one fellow sked the other,

Do you make a boyfriend?

I was momentarily confused, but then realized one of the guys was playing the role of a college girl.

Student A: Where do you live?
Student B: I live in the forest. I’m a Bushman.
Student A: What do you do?
Student B: I sharpen my sword and prepare my gun.
Student A: Let me guess: are you a dragon-slayer?
Student B: Amazing! You’re right!
Student A: Do you borrow my gun?
Student B: No, it’s okay, thank you. My gun is super gun.

I’ll bet it is.

Student A: What do you do?
Student B: I’m un construction worker. Teacher, what’s my job?

he asked me directly, in the middle of the test, using body language to show a building and then show himself destroying it with a single punch. I told him I guessed he was a demolitions worker.

I am Frenchman. I am Mafia. I am killer.

He said all of this with a big smile on his face. Then the other student, who was playing a cop, stood up and arrested him.

Student A: What do you do on weekends?
Student B: Oh, goddamn, I don’t know!

Male Student: I want a muscle man.

(He meant I want to be a muscle man.)

I have a very pig family.

Yes, b and p are that similar sometimes. Often.

I’m a kindergartener!

No, you’re a kindergarten teacher.
There were some responses which made me think about the translation of Korean culture into English. One thing I noted in my most advanced class (the advanced Freshman education class) is that they all produced responses to their partners’ answers to questions, like, “Wow, me too!” or “My family is from near there!” and that sort of thing. The most amusing of such responses was when two girls, pretending to be Japanese students, said in sudden and painfully joyous unison,


I realized at that moment that I don’t teach enough of that kind of thing in class: I think it might be an interesting conversation strategy to teach, looking for what you have in common, responding with things like, “Wow, so do I!” or “Ah, me too!” or even, “Hey, my friend is from there!” One of the reasons I thought it might be a useful strategy to teach is that the only students who seemed able to do this kind of thing were the most advanced Education students… but I’ve seen it in lots of classes in Iksan, and I also have noticed it comes up in what little conversation I follow in Korean. At first meetings, people seem from what I’ve seen to search for a connection that officially, explicitly binds them, and that conversation strategy tends to unearth all kinds of things like where they went to school, how old they are, where they’re from, what they studied and what they do for work, hobbies, and so on. I shall have to think about how to use that in class, maybe next semester devoting the first real class to an exercise of this type… find connections with three people you’ve never met before, or something.

Anyway, I’m kind of in agreement with Myoung Jae, who said earlier he wished test week would never end. It’s been funny, and if I’d scheduled it better it would have been less draining. Ah well, I will be wiser when it comes to final exams.

12 thoughts on “More Evidence of Student Insanity

  1. Well, now, I am just testng the comments function on my page. My blogspam filter, MT-blacklist, was blocking all comments for a while there. I’m hoping it’s back in order again… test, test!

  2. Lime,

    Yes, honey, you are helping. But I don’t know what the hell is wrong with it. Gaaaa. I’ve turned off MT-Blacklist to see if it is causing the problem for sure. Hmmm.

  3. Reminds of when I did a brief stint teaching young children at the YMCA in Yokohama. We had a nice set of materials and lessons with flashcards for “S/he is a …”

    Well, I’m flipping throught he cards with one of the more advanced 7 year-olds

    Me: Holding a picture of a a guy in a blue uniform holding a steering wheel.
    Girl: He’s a bus driver.

    Me: Holding a picture of a guy in a helmet in front of a red truck
    Girl: He’s a fireman.

    Me: Holding a picture of a woman standing at the balckboard with AaBbCc on it.
    Girl: She’s a teacher.

    Me: Holding a picture of a woman in a white hospital uniform with a cap and a clipboard.
    Girl: She’ a cosplayer! He he he!

    I swear that really happened. Good thing it wasn’t on parents’ day.

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