Can I Unhear That?


I have a student in my Speech class who is from a foreign country. English is not his first language, and he does not like to talk, does not like to make eye contact. Which is kind of problematic for a speech class…
Every day I call roll and have each student respond by answering the “question of the day.”
“Mark” hates it. It's like pulling teeth. The kid just wants to be left alone.
But he's my project this semester. I've wearing him down with my obnoxiousness persistence.

Last week the question was, “What's one thing you plan on doing this weekend?”
“Mark, what about you?”
“Come on. You gotta say something.”
“I do not plan ahead, so I cannot say that which I do not know.”
“Okay, tell me one thing you did last weekend.”
“I do not know.”
“Just onnnnne little thing. You can do it!”
“We celebrate Chinese New Year.”
“Really? Awesome! So did you have a big dinner?”
“What did you eat?”
Class goes silent.
Nobody moves.
“Dog!”  I repeat in the same tone reserved for “Cheese burgers!” or “Funnel cakes with extra powdered sugar!” 
“Well…awesome!” In my head I'm giving myself all sorts of high fives for keeping an interested face (you totally earned a chocolate shake after school), for maintaining enthusiasm, and for not whipping out my phone and calling PETA.
“Oh, wait,” says Mark. “Dog. You hear dog. No.” He shakes his head. “I mean duck.”
And 30 people in one tiny classroom release one audible sigh.
And share one big laugh.

This story presented with apologies to the puppies who died in my head.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 15 comments
Suzanne Schaffer - February 1, 2012

Bah ha ha ha. Love the language barrier!

Ronda - February 1, 2012

Cracking up!! Love the stories about school.

Rhonda - February 1, 2012

Jen, Ohhhhhhh. How stressed you made me first thing in the morning. Whew………..

Becky - February 1, 2012

Oh, the stories I could tell! We have 35 international students at my small private school, and the language barrier sometimes creates hilarious situations. But here’s the thing: I have students who really *do* eat dog! Not here in the States, of course … but I recently took a poll in my ESL class, and at least half have eaten dog at one time or another. Sounds gross to us, but dog is just another meat in some cultures.

Erin McFarland - February 1, 2012

Baby Hermione!! Just need to find a wee Ron and Harry and they can now remake all the HP movies in 10 years!

capillya - February 1, 2012

Oh my goodness baby Hermione! SO cute! Yeah I let out a sigh, too.

Allie Smith - February 1, 2012

That’s awesome!!! I’m going to college next year and I plan to double major in Commercial Writing and Speech Education…this makes me look forward to being a Speech Teacher!!!

Natalie - February 2, 2012

That made me laugh! 🙂 I took Chinese in college (because someone told me it was easier than French and I believed them … don’t judge me …). The only thing I remember is that the word Ma can mean “Mom” and it can also mean “horse” – just the slight inflection of the word makes all the difference.

bookwyrm15 - February 2, 2012

I love the Baby Hermione! 🙂

In some places, they do eat dog, though, right? I’ve heard that somewhere…

Carissa Arend - February 4, 2012

Is the student from China? What’s baby Hermione’s name? Looks like she has a future in personal hygiene retail, judging from the deodorant in her hand XD How cute :3

Olivia - February 5, 2012

Baby Hermione! How cute and how uncanny!!! Very funny! My grandfather was a missionary in Brazil and speaks Portuguese and Spanish. He was talking to a Spanish friend about how embarrassed he was. Well the Portuguese word for embarrassed is embarazada. Well embarazada in Spanish means…pregnant. So my Papa is expecting twins any day now. They will be named Whoopsie and Daisie… 🙂

Angelina C. Hansen - February 5, 2012

Great story. I’m just popping in to tell you I started THERE YOU’LL FIND ME and am loving it. Thought you might like to know. . .

Lisa Buffaloe - February 10, 2012

LOL! Kudos for you for maintaining composure. I might have fainted or started sobbing.

Katelyn - February 13, 2012

Dog, Duck. I really don’t see how you can confuse those two. Oh, well. My friend almost ate dog, but instead tried octopus. Gald i wasn’t with her…

???? - July 23, 2018

excellent put up, very informative. I wonder why the opposite specialists of this sector don’t realize this.
You must continue your writing. I am confident,
you’ve a great readers’ base already!


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