Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Real Hat Trick

A student towards the end of the term asked if I could give him extra time and help with some basic English questions he had. I agreed and asked what subject matter was giving him problems. He answered that he was having some trouble with English idioms. Youch! The student is ESL (English as a Second Language) and idioms are a frequent stumbling block when learning a new language.

We met together and were progressing through the lesson just fine when the student said to me that there was one idiom that he thought had a misspelling in it. I had given him a list of idioms and he pointed out the idiom on the list. The idiom was "to pull a rabbit out of a hat." I asked him which word he thought had been misspelled. He said that it was "rabbit," and then said, "Everyone knows it should be "pull a rabbi out of a hat" because everyone knows rabbis wear hats.

Have you ever tried to hold in a convulsive laugh because you know the other person will not understand why you are laughing and might get insulted? I almost strangled on that laugh. Somehow I got through the rest of the lesson but that comment had me giggling the rest of the day. Yup, there are definitely times when pulling a rabbi out of a hat might do the trick. If you can have defrocked ministers then you surely can have de-hatted rabbis.

English can be a strange language all on its own...and then we attempt to use it.

No comments: