Monday, December 03, 2007

No more butts, we’re English!

Gabriel was becoming more American by the day, while Marc, Nina and I were getting more English! The three of us visibly winced when we heard the way the Americans pronounced things, and the spelling tests were a test for all of us. Who says ‘color’ has to spelt like that? Why such a half-hearted attempt to change the spellings, since the vast majority of words stayed as tricky as before?

Meanwhile Gabriel started saying ‘butt’ instead of ‘bottom, and ‘I want to go potty!’ inside of toilet. He talked about pants, when he meant trousers. He put his rubbish in the ‘trashcan’ and asked for the ‘restroom’ in restaurants. Gabriel would ask for a ‘juicebox’ from the ‘icebox’, called me ‘mom’ instead of Mummy and so on…

I hated it and resented every single change to the language I had once taught. Although I had always discussed the differences with my TEFL students I had not realized how different America and England was.

At school shows or class assemblies the whole school would sing the National Anthem. I could cope with that, mouthing along while the chap next to me sang his heart out. But then I found out the kids had to sing it every morning at school. I asked Marc and Nina, 'Do you sing along?'‘No.’ they replied together. ‘We are English.’

Gabriel’s class were usually out at play when the school sang at 8.15am, but if it was rainy or cold they assembled around the class loudspeaker and with one arm over their little chests (I kid you not) sing that Star-spangled song. I would collapse into laughter watching them sing so seriously, like they had won the Olympics! Of course, I was told off by th teacher for moving while it was on (you could not walk through the corridor or barely breathe while it was playing either) and for showing a bad example to the children...

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