Thursday, March 19, 2009


This post would be a lot better if I had a picture of my students (I'll take some soon) but for now I thought I'd share one of the more hilarious lessons I've had to teach in my 5 weeks of work. Every speaking level has at least 3 books (homework, exercise book, reading book). Our company is big enough to develop its own curriculum, some of which is easy to teach and as entertaining as can be expected. Some of it is incredibly quirky and poorly edited. Sometimes this is good....I can ask the kids to recognize and point out errors in their book...though this can be embarrassing when there are several in a row. For me the most entertaining moment comes when I see what the topic of the day's reading is. Their reading books are of course mainly designed to teach English (pronunciation, vocab, punctuation) but they often supply a decent dose of American culture. My favorite reading topic so far has been "Jeans". I had fun explaining to the kids who Levis Strauss was, that my sister works for them in San Francisco, and that I was in fact wearing a pair. The really good part came when I started to actually read the story. I'll quote the best part below. Listening to my serious Korean students read incongruous and out of date stories like this one is often the most comedic part of my day.

A Fashion Phenomenon

It was about half past seven on a cool morning in 1970. About 200 people were standing in line, waiting for the ticket office to open. Every minute, more people joined the line. They all wanted to buy tickets for the next Rolling Stones concert. They were all Stones fans, and lots of them were wearing the same kind of clothes. Nearly every one of them was wearing blue jeans.

This scene was repeated many times over the next three decades. By the late 1960s, blue jeans had become the uniform of young people in many parts of the world. Since then the bands and pop groups have changed, but the uniform has stayed the same. Today, young people stand in line to buy tickets for Destiny's Child, Ricky Martin, and Blur. But they are still wearing jeans. Most people under sixty years old have at least one pair of jeans in their closet.

Jeans eventually became so popular that fashion designers started to make them. If a nineteenth-century coal miner went into a jeans store today, he would be amazed at the range of styles. He could choose loose or tight jeans. He could choose straight legs or flares. He could also choose from blue, black or white jeans. People used to buy jeans because they were practical. Today they are an essential fashion item!

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