Today, by the standards of a West-Wing-addicted language geek, has been a good day.
Well, it was actually yesterday, since two episodes of said amazing TV show have somehow caused it to be after 1 am as so often tends to happen. It’s Friday, so that shouldn’t matter, except it kind of does, because my Fridays aren’t really Fridays... five hours of teaching await me tomorrow. Sigh.
But my seven hours today went well, particularly the two-hour slot with my advanced English class. I have to admit to not having taught them a whole lot of grammar (actually, possibly none at all – oops!), but we did list 40 of the American states (and I put them right when it came to their belief that there are 51 or 52 of them – I assume they were counting the UK, which as enthralled with the US as I am, I am not quite ready for, and I’m sure many of my compatriots would be with me on that one) ... and I later added two more... Which is quite impressive, considering that a couple of years ago, I could just about list Florida, California and erm maybe Washington, is Washington a state? (I am now fully briefed on all angles of the answer to that, before you all rush to the comments box.)
After having done this, I pretended, erm I mean, explained it was all an introduction to our topic of the day – oh look, someone has written about the West Wing in the MAG (an excellent language learning magazine, by the way, and not only because I’m a contributor). Maybe, for our general culture, you know, we should read it and analyse every sentence and every paragraph and talk about what’s so great about the West Wing? Yes, let’s do that.
So yes, we did that. I taught them the words “boyish” and “dimple” – just like in that photo, said one of them, pointing at the very sexy Josh Lyman – and successfully got them to say things like “the West Wing is amazing” and “maybe we buy the DVDs”.
They could recognise Josh and Donna and they knew that the photos did neither of them justice (particularly Donna- the photos we got permission to print were some early ones, which are not great considering how very beautiful Janel Moloney is) and that it was all very heart-breaking because they were in love and couldn’t do anything about it because they worked together (puritanical American work ethics, some would say). Well, you have to simplify slightly, even when you are teaching advanced students.
In fact, I gave one of them a gold star (well actually two stars: a blue one and a gold one, because they were stuck together; nothing is ever simple in my world) for naming Martin Sheen with no prompting and (mainly) for recognising Josh Lyman, having given me the impression he wasn’t really listening to me or understanding me. They clearly were after all. Ha! Caught you!
In case you are worried their money is wasted, I did also teach them plenty of other vocabulary, such as bewitched, ensorcelled, gasp, simmer, smouldering, cliff-hanger, interwoven, fast-paced, one-liners, kudos, head over heels, dwarf, dwell, dwindle, and of course the very useful phrase “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc”. Also how to say “raison d’être” with an English accent. (Thanks Richard Schiff for that one.)
And of course I imparted my vast political wisdom: Democrats GOOD, Republicans BAD. (I also taught them the word “patronise”.) They loved what they saw of President Bartlet and correctly identified him as the anti-Bush.
So my work there is done, even if they do need to work on their tenses and irregular verbs a little bit. That’s for another day.
Oh, and did I mention that this was all on the basis of an article I had been paid to write?!
Paid to write about the West Wing, then paid to talk about it.
Paid to talk about Josh Lyman’s dimples.
(As I may accidentally have squeaked out loud in the class in my excitement.)
It’s official: I have the best job in the world. Well, except for Aaron Sorkin’s and Janel Moloney’s. The third best job.
And now, inspired by Donna Moss to be a tiny bit more organised, I have got my coffee machine ready for tomorrow (who can name the episode where she does that? Hmmmm?), and am heading for bed so I can be up far too soon to teach some French grammar and Spanish verbs. Sadly there will be no excuses to bring my obsession into any of that, but I do have a free evening to indulge in the next part of series 6, and maybe even do some writing. It’s been far too long. And Brad and Janel need their next film script after all... ;)