Happy Valentine’s Day! (And Mommy, happy birthday!) Since Basque men were voted the least likely to flirt in all of Spain, I can unfortunately not claim budding love on this sappiest of holidays. I can, however, share a lesson plan I did with my high-schoolers which, in retrospect, was a very questionable teaching decision.
Catching puns can be difficult even in your native language, so don’t ask me why I thought it would be a good idea to have my students get these Valentine’s Day puns in English. However, once I explained to them all the slang terms (they were astonished that a single word ‘bun’ could mean both a delicious breakfast item and your ass), every student was cracking up. We warmed up with a couple easy ones:
Unfortunately most students had no idea what brie was. Which means they also have no idea what they’re missing.
The easiest one. Even the kids who seem like they started English lessons yesterday got this pun, thank goodness.
The word “offal” is news to me too.
Also taken as, “Every radish of my heart.”
I let the students wrack their brains for 3 full minutes to find the pun here. Guess what? There isn’t one. A nice poem is a nice poem.
I had to look up the Spanish word for “cuddle” for this one, which I think might have an even more sexual connotation than “canoodle,” judging by the ensuing shrieks and giggles.
Up until now there was confusion over linguistic issues, but nothing grave. Nothing dirty. Then things went progressively downhill. . . .
The pun is with PEAR and PAIR!! It has nothing to do with boobs!! Do you even know what a pun is??
This is a HOT DOG. I believe they also have HOT DOGS in Spain, that you do in fact EAT WITH YOUR MOUTH. Stop with the dirty jokes already.
In Spanish, the term “huevo” for egg is also slang for balls. So insert balls jokes here. But seriously, Iker, get up off the floor, no balls joke is worth that hard of a laugh.
I AM bananas for you, not I HAVE A BANANA for you. Do you see the word HAVE anywhere on the image??
After one student said “That looks like a butt with a hair in it,” it was clear that they were just grasping at dirty straws.
You think I was going to mention tongues after all that went on here? I side-stepped that land mine and went with, “You have me speechless.”
Several take-homes from this lesson: True love is a dying breed. High-schoolers are universally dirty. Don’t teach double-meanings. Literally everything in this world can be taken as sexual, even fried eggs. It’s really no surprise that only three of my high-school boys have girlfriends.
Jenny Marshall studied Language, Culture, and Society at the University of California Santa Barbara, and now teaches English in Spain. Here she writes about the intersection of language and culture, and lives a life translated by travel.