English Class

2023-03-19T16:22:12-07:00Categories: education, featured posts, immigration, writing|Tags: , , , , , , , |

One recent Tuesday morning, I held up two laminated photos: one of hot dogs, drizzled artfully with mustard and catsup; the other of pepperoni pizza. “Which do you like better?” I asked C, a new student from Eritrea, who is learning English at a galloping pace. “Hot dogs, or pizza?” We were practicing phrases like, “I prefer hot dogs,” and “I like pizza more than hot dogs.” C pointed at the hot dog. “What?” he said. “Hot? Dog?” He sounded the words out slowly. Incredulously. And then he started laughing. I nodded. “Yes. Hot. Dog. It’s a… a sausage. In a bun.” C laughed even louder. “Hot dog? Dog?” He made a barking noise. “Yes.” I laughed too. “That is the word. Dog.” Now C looked horrified, and I realized why. “But it is not the meat of a dog!” I shook my head vigorously. “Not dog! It is beef, or pork. Cow or pig.” I turned to M, an even newer student from Ukraine. “M, do you have hot dogs in Ukraine?” I asked. “Yes,” M said. “Hot dogs. In my country. We say—hot dogs.” He smiled, for the first time that morning. It was his second day in class. C burst out laughing again. He could not get over it. What next, in this nutty country? M and I started laughing too. So did the other students. A week has passed, and I keep thinking about that moment. All I have to do is say to myself, hot dog, and I smile. I don’t [...]