July 17, 2007

Burmese snakes?

Posted in English as a second language, Second language learning at 7: 56 pm by MK

I swear I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to.

Neighbors Scotty & Franky (and Scotty’s wife Priscella and five children) who live across the street from A. & K. have decided to befriend the family. I came up to the apartment today and outside Scotty had lawnchairs set up and a charcoal grill going with burgers and sausages. It was a whirlwind of kids, meat, and Juicy Juice. Scotty assured me that he’ll keep a close watch on the family. Why? Well, because he’s a good guy, his language is close to theirs with its vowel sounds (he speaks Spanish), and he raises Burmese snakes (says it will give him good insight into the culture). Plus gerbils, hamsters, bunnies….says it’s a regular zoo across the street. He offered to take me over; I politely declined. Okay, all joking aside I’m not sure what Scotty’s all about, but for now I’m going to put aside my impulse to doubt and hope that someone will really be looking out for their welfare. But oh Scotty, how do we explain the concept of halal?

When we finally made it upstairs the lesson went really well. Everyone is really eager to learn, and we had fun with the flashcards I had made. However, I completely underestimated the time I would need–we flew through the flashcards. So, I moved on to a vocabulary lesson of things around the apartment. When we got to silverware, the word “fork” left everyone laughing. Yes, with their accent it sounded like something that is definitely not fork. Of course that would be the one English word they know!

I left them later in the hands of Scotty, saying, “Hello, my name is K. How are you today?” Please let Scotty be a good guy.



  1. Megan Fulwiler said,

    You’re so right–it’s about language for survival! I hope Scotty’s a good guy too–it makes you realize how vulnerable they are to exploitation at all levels. I’ve been without internet since I moved, so now I’m up and running. Your writing thus far really reminds me of Anne Fadiman’s!

  2. Elizabeth said,

    I, too, pray that Scotty’s a good guy. This family needs support on many levels right now. Having a friendly family close by could help them settle in.

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