We were supposed to be teaching English in Spain. Manning our battle stations day and night, making sure that our subjects were in agreement with their verbs. I was to keep a watchful eye to ensure my Spanish friends remained on the beach rather than in it, that years, hunger and fear are not owned but lived. We were supposed to remind them that TV’s were not merely seen, but are watched in all their glory.
I don’t know if it’s due to my submissive character or impressionable mind, but after almost three years teaching on the Iberian Peninsula, the teacher had become the teachee (or the student, if my memory serves). I needed more confidence to call out the mistakes… I once spent a class with toddlers allowing the (native-Spanish) English teacher get through a 10-minute story about some cheeky black strippers, too shy to tell her that it’s pronounced ‘stripes.’ But there have been times where I have had to draw the line, reminding disgruntled students that their classmate wasn’t ‘molesting’ them but merely annoying them.
With the ubiquitous grammar error of leaving out the subject, each class inevitably has turned into a ‘who dunnit’ episode. And the pronunciation of consonant clusters is just too hard for our fourth graders to master, so we’ve decided it best to do away with it altogether and live in the present…after all, it’s best not to dwell.
And it is contagious. Nowadays I’m more likely to give out notes rather than marks, and suspend students rather than fail them. Thanks to omitted prepositions I am able to live Madrid rather than in it and feel slightly more alive for it. And don’t get me wrong…I’m certainly understanding when it comes to fluidity in gender identity, but multiple gender changes within a matter of seconds brings us right back to that ‘who dunnit’ mystery. I feel lucky because I’m no longer earning money but winning it. I feel slightly offended when I am told we live in a country full of hot beautiful bitches. I feel confused when people tell me how I am feeling rather than asking me (You are good? You are happy, no?)
But who is to blame for all these English grammar mistakes? Rather than blame it on we, the teachers, you’re more likely to hear us declare that it’s the educational system that’s to blame. Because if something should go horribly wrong, who would be our escape goats then?