Of the 13 classes that I teach here, I am surprised to find that my favorite one is the 4 – 5 year-olds. They are so cute, and they try so hard. But teaching them can lead to certain misunderstandings. When I was teaching them how to say the plural form of words, I would emphasize the “s” on the end so that they would understand (i.e. 1 eraser, 2 erasers-z, 1 pencil, 4 pencils-z). It was really funny to hear them repeat it back. Many times, they would forget and say, “4 pencil.” Then I would would point to the “s” on the end of the word and they would say, “za.” But just the “za”, as if it was a different word altogether.

The funniest misunderstanding so far has been one made by a little boy named Keito. I was teaching the phrase “Don’t forget your _____.” (fill in with bag, hat, jacket, etc.). But because we overpronounce everything, Keito heard the emphasized “t” on the end of “don’t” and tried to copy it. He ended up walking around saying “Dontchiko forget your bag! Dontchiko forget your jacket!” We tried breaking him of this habit, but to no avail. I’m concerned now that I’m not teaching them English, but rather overpronounced English. Maybe these students are now doomed to a life of saying things like, “I dontchiko like spaghetti,” and “I have 2 dog-za.” And then people will ask, “Where did you learn English?” and they’ll have to answer, “From a gur-el from America.”

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