I forgot to add another valuable lesson learned yesterday: do NOT under any circumstances use Calvin and Hobbes cartoons with adult learners. Kids, absolutely fine and dandy - a cartoon about a fictional boy talking to a fictional tiger that is also his make-believe friend, or fighting an imaginary bubble bath monster - no problem! Teachers, not so much. I was using the same cartoons to do the rearrange and phone activity as I used with my 2nd year conversation class during the semester, which the kids loved and found really interesting. But apparently grown adults find it hard to comprehend the deep and complicated nature of Calvin and Hobbes.
This is what the conversation sounded like more or less (about the one where Calvin wants to water-bomb Hobbes)
Me: Ok, so you have to look at the pictures in each panel and move them into the right order, then call me on the number written on the back. You can check with each other to make sure you have the same phone number, but you should check to make sure your stories also make sense, because some panels look very similar. They are all about a boy who likes to pretend things, so he imagines some very interesting stories. Ok?
*after a busy 20 minutes*
Ms Park: This cartoon does not make sense. There is no right order.
Me: Why do you say that?
Ms Chae: Because tigers do not talk.
Me: Er.. what?
Ms Park: Tigers do not talk. And here the tiger is talking to boy who wants to make joke to him.
Me: ...right. It's not real. The boy likes to imagine things, and one of the things he imagines is that the tiger is real, but really he's just a toy.
Ms Park: Then why does the tiger not eat the boy?
Me: Well, you'll notice that the tiger is also sleeping with it's knees crossed and it's fingers together, which isn't exactly normal for a tiger either. The tiger is not real.
Ms Chae: So.. the boy is imagining that the tiger is sleeping? Why?
Me: The tiger is not important! Just pretend it's a person, like his friend or his dad or his mum, that he wants to play a practical joke on.
Ms Chae: Ok. What is the meaning of tiger's words?
Me: It says "As if life isn't short enough." It just means, life is short. If you throw that, I'll kill you, so your life will be shorter.
Ms Chae: Life is short? What does that mean?
Me: It means exactly what it says. "Life is short" means "life is short". Like I said, he means, if you do that, I'll hurt you. Or "life is short, don't waste it doing something stupid"
Ms Park: But.. what does life is short mean?
Me: Ok, let's ignore it! It's not important. It's just a threat, saying if you do that, I'll hurt you. So don't.
Ms Park: So the boy imagined the tiger sleeping, then imagined that the tiger said that to him?
Me: Well... yes... but it's not important that it's the tiger. It could be anyone! It's just the tiger here because the tiger is his friend.
Ms Chae: Why did boy imagine tiger say that if he is friend?
Me: It's a joke! Let's just look at the story - don't worry about who the people are!
Ms Park: The cartoon does not make sense. Why does boy imagine tiger saying this if he wants to throw the water balloon?
......This went on for a good hour. I'm not a patient person at best, so I feel that the fact that I patiently tried to explain the cartoons for that long and only covered my face with my hands in a gesture of total despair once deserves some sort of reward, which is why I splurged and ignored my lactose intolerance for a 'Real Belgian Hot Chocolate' from Holly's Coffee that Henry introduced me to last night and completely rocked my world. Although apparently Ms Park, who I would guess is in her early 50's, likes dance music, because she chose Sneaky Sound System's "UFO" for their song to study. So yeah, less Calvin and Hobbes and more Sneaky. Must remember.