I have taught the same class all day, every day since I started at DGEV. Teaching fast food vocabulary and procedures to small Koreans of varying ages and English proficiency levels for 90 minutes at a time 5 days a week is not recommended if you want, let’s say, to retain your sanity.

EXCEPT that I get to make up the lessons myself, and after four weeks I’ve gotten pretty good at reading a group within the first five minutes of class and tailoring the lesson appropriately. This week I started something new: after introductions and a brief discussion on types of fast food/making wise nutritional choices/fast food vocabulary review, I’ve begun handing out blank sheets of paper with the following instructions:

  1. Draw a sandwich. Keep in mind you may make it as healthy or unhealthy as you want. As long as it’s between two pieces of bread, it’s a sandwich.
  2. Label everything you put in the sandwich, in English.

Classes approach this assignment the same way, every time. Most of the girls ask incessant questions about the proper spelling of vegetables (“lettuce,” “cucumber,” “tomato”) while one or two girls will make “crazy sandwich!” which in addition to vegetables will include one zany item, say, pizza. Pizza sandwich! You so crazy! 

The boys.  The boys, on the other hand, just draw.  And eventually after all of the girls are done and most of the boys there are one/two left. The following scene, from third period today, is the best specimen I can offer:

Me: “How’s it coming?”


“Oh my god, what is that.”

Joe: (laughing uncontrollably) “Teacher, how do you spell–spell–bomb.  This bomb. Hiroshima bomb! Bomb sandwich, teacher!”

Me: “B-O-M-B.” (Learning is learning. don’t judge.)

Rio: (dead serious) “Teacher, what is English word for this?”

Me: “Hmm, not sure what that is, buddy.  Can you describe it?”

Rio: “Mmmm…it is…in science. Thing in science where…if you drink it, melts your throat.”

Me: “….”


Rio: “YES! Teacher, is this how you spell H-U-M-A-N M-E-A-T?”

I have that sandwich (which also included leeches [“insect, teacher! lives in water. sucks blood! people blood.”], a volcano, an insect with a wide grin, a helicopter, a knife, dust, and ammonia) hanging over my desk now. (Another favorite looks pretty normal: bread, ham, cheese, tomato…and at the bottom a slumped figure labeled “Bill.”)

Really, this is what keeps me coming in every morning.