It takes a lot of effort to speak their second language 'naturally', ie:without the help of a translator or dictionary, but despite their hard work, students can sometimes find themselves staring confusedly at their teacher as she doubles over in an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
Case in point: A homework activity. My mixed level ESL students had to record a current event in their notebooks twice a week. Using the W5 format. Great practice with question words. Now...skip ahead to the part where Miss checks the assignments.
I read the first current event assignment which was about the tragic death of soccer player Antonio De Nigris. I then commence uncontrollable fit of laughter coupled with unsuccessful attempts at composing myself so as not to make for an awkward situation. I fail.
After a brief apology, and a brisk 'MISS.APRIL' stamp on the assignment, I move on. Quickly discovering that the death of Antonio De Nigris is actually quite big news among my students, as it appeared in almost each of their notebooks. I address the masses, and try to figure out what caused this man's death. Through a quick charade I deduce the cause of death of the famous Mexican soccer player. A tragic loss, and certainly no cause for the side splitting laughter coming from their Canadian teacher. I wipe my tears, straighten my skirt and consider my explanation. I begin by saying that I am sorry for the death of Antonio De Nigris, and that I find nothing funny about it. I watch as their newly relieved faces return to those of confusion:
Why did you laugh then, Miss?
Well, I laughed because 'infarto massivo' translates to 'massive heart attack'....
Who: Antonio De Nigris
What: Dead at age 31
When: November 16th
Where: Larissa, Greece
Why: It was his time to go
How: He died of a massive fart
And not....'massive fart'.