Cairo 2

posted by Justin Duffy on October 18th, 2005

Last night, I taught another English class. For some reason, this time people saying bebsi (pepsi), sank yo (thank you), swotr (sweater), and ce…tly (certainly, which seems to be a constant pronounciation problem for everyone) made me laugh just a bit in class. To be fair, I think that they have laughed at my Arabic since day 2. It may be a sign that my students and I are getting closer.

Today we practiced a dialogue about purchasing a sweater, which can be viewed here. It’s interesting to try and anticipate which words the class won’t understand so I can be prepared with definitions. My guess for this one was ‘credit card’, ‘Master Card’, ‘Visa’, and ‘American Express’. In class it turned out that there was a little bit of a hold up on the credit card issue, but the real toughies were ‘extra’, ‘changing room’, ‘certainly’, and later ‘pickled’. In fact the line: “Certainly, there’s the changing rooms* over there.” made even the bravest of my students quiver. Not really I guess, but it did usually get abbreviated.

I am repeatedly humbled by my students. They are all very polite, are picking up English in an Arabic speaking country far faster than I am learning Arabic. My fellow teacher Ameer speaks Arabic very well, but for the past few classes he has barely used his Arabic in the class. Of course, some of the students don’t speak Arabic, and trying to communicate the concept of ‘pickled’ to someone who doesn’t speak any language in common with you was the one part of last night’s class where Ameer and I may have fallen short.

On that note, because the ‘p’ sound doesn’t exist in Arabic we wanted to give our students something to help them learn the pronounciation. I tried to assign a written homework with 6 question sentences using p words. Unfortunately, all I could come up with for examples was “Where are the peppers?” “Who took those peppers?” “When are we eating peppers?” and “Why are the damn peppers still in my sentences?” So, we fell back on an old standard: “Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers”. Of course it turns out that: “Pronounciation of Peter’s pedagogical prose poses problems without proper preparation.” However, having the entire class recite the tongue twister as fast as possible with us and the ensuing pandemonium and laughter was certainly the high point of my day.

*Shouldn’t this be singular? Is this a mistake on ESL’s learning English website?

Published in: General | on October 18th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “Cairo 2” | 1 Comment »

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  1. On April 17, 2007 at 16:13 sara marie melton said:

    i don’t even really know how i stumbled onto your website, here, but i really enjoyed its content! it sounds to me you lead a very interesting life, sir! i wish i could have experienced that PETER PICKING PICKLED PEPPERS first hand.On that note, try this one, as a reply: Peter Piper Picked as many Pickled Peppers that he could put in his pickled pepper picking pack.( me and my old friend sandra used to reply this to the old tongue twister!)

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