Thursday, November 27, 2014

It All Sounds the Same

Last week part of the English lesson was on the past continuous and the question for the student was “What were you doing at eight o’clock last night?”  His answer, or what it sounded like to me, was “I was walking parking job.” Students frequently omit prepositions and I thought he was walking “to” his job, but that wasn’t the case.  He was “working” not “walking”. The entire class of 13 students thought the two words sounded the same.  When this happens, which is more often than you’d imagine, we go through where the lips and tongue are and how wide the mouth is open, etc. to make the proper sound.  They always think this is funny. 

Anyway, back to the student's answer.  I asked where he parked cars for his job. He said no, no, no – his job is drinking beer.  What? (Parking job was really part-time job.) My next question was, “Who pays you to drink beer?”  He said no, no, no, and acted like he was carrying a tray.  As it turns out, his job is serving beer at a restaurant. Last night he was working at his part-time restaurant job.

I totally understand the pronunciation thing and not saying what you think you are saying.  Last week in my Japanese language class, the exercise in the book was something about the Kobe hospital. I thought I was saying hospital, but the teacher was touching her head and patting her hair.  I was thinking was is that about?  Turns out, I was saying beauty shop (biyoin) instead of hospital (byoin).  It all sounds the same to me.

1 comment:

  1. Even the Japanese make that beauty parlour/hospital mistake. A famous example is in one of the films in the 'Otoko tsurai yo' Tora-san series.
    I have been here for more than 30 years and still can not distinguish nor express the difference between chopsticks (hashi) and bridge (hashi).
    It took my students a long time to pronounce L and R sounds correctly. We all have problems learning a new language.