Cute Ideas – 6

Cute Idea #6: What nationality? What language?
This idea is one that is easy to throw in and for some reason always commands high interest, probably in part because it is easily understood. It affords the kids’ minds a break from the hard work of turning sound into meaning, and yet it does not interrupt the story. Just ask, at any time that fits, what nationality the character is and what language he/she speaks.
The kids never tire of this activity, even when the teacher does. It somehow tickles the kids that there was an American boy who spoke German on his way to a British restaurant, where they spoke Chinese, to eat tacos, when he ran into an Italian pope who spoke only French.
When the boy asked the Pope, in German, “Do you want to go to the restaurant to eat tacos with me?” the Pope replied, “Non”, not because he didn’t like tacos, but because he didn’t understand the question! For some reason that brand of humor really works with teens.
The above scenario exhibits the use of another earlier mentioned cute idea, that of the En Route Event, when the boy just happens to cross paths with the Pope. Just remember to be brief with skills like this one and the En Route Event. Their purpose is to keep things lively and full of humor, but both can in themselves become so engaging that it is easy to forget where the hero is going and why. Of course, if it interesting comprehensible input, you are on task!
Fortunately we live in a world that, partially due to our own good efforts in the classroom, is learning not to perpetuate or promote cultural stereotypes as was done in years past. We must be ever vigilant to insure that no such gaffes occur in our classroom when discussing and working with nationalities.

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