I was working with a class of 15-year-old boys on the grammar have/haven’t got and has/hasn’t got (à la Brit, as per usual). The textbook showed six photos and it was the students’ job to describe what the person had in each. Thick book: “The boy has got a thick book.” Yellow coat: “The girls have got yellow coats,” etc.
Number six read: Big clock. Literally, there was a picture of a young boy leaning against a really massive clock.
So naturally, the sentence that should have followed: “The boy has got a big clock.”
Except that boys don’t generally have big clocks lying around (and big enough to lean on, at that!), and this was a group of adolescents I was dealing with. What they lack for in academic motivation, they more than make up for in surging hormones and dirty minds. This particular group struggles to remember the basics like chair and stop talking, but slang words for “penis” tend to stick in any language. The authors of this textbook would do well to keep their audience in mind—future editions should perhaps be edited to show a young boy with a large television set or skateboard.
For five minutes I was suppressing hysteric laughs. I tried to play it off: “Why are you all laughing? Clock means reloj.”
They resisted. They tried desperately to search through all the dirty words they knew (one of the rare times they were fully engaged in an English lesson!)—hoping to remember that bit of slang buried deep down in their very useful English vocabularies. But pronunciation was a beatch:
“How do you say it. . . . Come on, Jenny, remind us. . . . Cook? Cake? Cookie? Coke?” So close.
Luckily, at just that moment, the CLOCK struck one, and it was time for lunch.