Thursday, 8 July 2010

Overused words heard by an ESL teacher in Korea: Part I

The other day I asked one student, I cannot remember who, an easy question. Their answer just really annoyed me even though I had heard that answer from tens of, if not hundreds of kids before. A word that I do not wish to hear when I go back home on my short vacation.

My students have a limited vocabulary but an impressive one, I think, especially considering I teach the middle level abilities at my academy. I am often impressed at how well they can deal with some of my questions or expectations. However, there is some words that I have heard time and time again that when I hear are like a punch to the heart. One word that falls under this category is 'dirty'.

I have found that there are certain words that are overused here. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just that some words are misused/overused and grate when you have worked at an academy like me for too long. Personally, my Korean vocabulary is shockingly bad so I know learning a new language is difficult and frustrating at times and you cannot really express yourself fully and eloquently.

But on the subject of dirty, I grimace every time I hear it. No matter the occasion or topic this word invariably crops up especially when expression an opinion or feeling given an unlikely scenario. It is said to show a feeling OR, more specifically, to extract a laugh from the other students. But it's just not funny.

"What do you think about (anything)?"

"If (scenario) how would you feel?"

"How are you today?"

"How were exams?"

All questions met at some time with 'dirty' like some proud boast. And said with a grin that makes them look as if they think they've said something witty and ingenious but met with an equally powerful feeling of contempt from me, internally I hope! Is some TV 'funnyman' here using this word on some show? If so they must stop. It really is annoying when I hear this word.

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