What a big pear! is not something I have ever said in my life. I would imagine that unless you’re a fruit vendor, or perhaps a chef this sentence would not appear very often in your daily conversations.
And yet the publishers of our textbooks thought our Grade 6 students should learn it. Indeed, they devoted an entire chapter to “what a ___!” exclamatory sentences. “What a big pear!” “What a tall tower!” “What a cute guy!” “What a pretty girl!” Useful sentences…
I thought I would liven things up by showing them a musical version of Little Red Riding Hood. What big eyes you have! What big teeth you have!
I played this song. It’s cheerful, cute and has the target language. I assumed it would be relatively easy for them to understand. Doesn’t everyone know the story of Little Red Riding Hood? (It’s also very catchy and will be stuck in your head for days, sorry!)
It was amazing. Each and every student was glued to the screen. The girls even stopped combing their bangs. There were gasps of horror when the wolf ate Little Red, and cheers when the woodsman saved the day.
But they were HORRIFIED by Grandma’s fate.
“But Carrie-teacher, Grandma where?”
“Grandma? I don’t know… I guess the wolf ate her.”
These students of mine are 12-13 years old. NOTHING interests or excites them. Puberty has hit and they are too cool for school. They were raised on shoot-em-up video games. They love horror movies – the scarier the better. And yet the fate of the unseen Grandmother horrified them. Even my co-Ts looked ready to cry.
“Maybe she ran away,” I suggested, trying to get the class back on track. “After all, we never see the wolf eat her. Right. Who can tell me …”
“But teacher! The wolf very very fat!! Poor Grandma!”
“But wolf very big!”
Each and every one of my 12 Grade 6 classes was scandalized. Poor Grandma! What a terrible story! What a sad ending! What a mean wolf!
At least we managed to use the target language, just not in the way I had intended…