Sometimes I forget that my morning GED class is made up mostly of non-native English speakers, folks who grew up somewhere other than here in the US. I’ve got students from Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Brazil, Yemen, Haiti, Mexico, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic. Definitely not a homogeneous group as far as country of origin is concerned!
Today we were doing some grammar work and I made an off-hand reference to Schoolhouse Rock. Yes, two students immediately knew what I was talking about (my other ‘born and grow’ Americans are all too young for this one). Everyone else looked at me as if I was saying another of the wacky things I say that don’t make any sense.
Giselle, one of my lovely Egyptian ladies, asked me to write it on the board, to explain. So we talked about ABC’s clever idea of teaching a little something in the middle of Saturday morning cartoons, about the fact that I can still sing the Preamble to the Constitution, my three times tables and Interplanet Janet.
I am in the middle of a lousy cold and my voice is all husky and just-call-me-Lauren (Bacall) today, so when Giselle asked me to sing the Preamble, I laughed. “But we want to hear these songs,” she said. “It will help us understand this story you’re telling.” Still, no go.
But then I remembered my forever-resource: YouTube! I hooked up the projector and laptop and we watched Conjunction Junction (what’s your function …), Interjections, Unpack Your Adjectives … and, of course, the Preamble.
My Middle Eastern ladies all thought the idea was brilliant. “It’s almost tricking kids into learning,” Narmeen said. That was certainly true in my case. I would never have said I was studying when I was trying to remember the lyrics to Three, It’s a Magic Number.
I was ready to stop after Conjunction Junction (“Out of the frying pan AND into the fire. They threw out the sandbags, BUT the balloon wouldn’t go any higher.”). Obviously I think they’re way fun, and I’d surely sit and watch them all if I were at home, but they’re a little hokey and we did have work to do … But everybody got into it and wanted to watch more, and who am I to stand in the way of student enthusiasm?! So we kept going. We even played the Interjections song twice because that was a part of speech no one had heard of.
They were enjoying it enough that they talked about going home and watching the other songs. If I hear humming during our practice test sessions, I guess I’ll know just who’s been watching!