Sunday, December 03, 2006

Brown Elephant 2006

So tonight was our annual Brown Elephant party. For those of you that are new, in early December we have a Brown Elephant gift exchange.

My mama started this tradition one Christmas because we didn't have a lot of money for real presents, so mama went around the house wrapping what she could find; cans of tuna, panty, hospital bedpan. That's when we realized that the gifts themselves were irrelevant, the fun of Christmas is opening the packages.

Then one year, S imposed rules on our joke gifts, White Elephant rules, complete with numbers from a hat and swapping gifts and all that.

So the 2006 edition was excellent.

First, attendance: H and T, M, C and M, E and E, K and R. And me.

Next the food: Arrozcaldo, secret chicken wings, turkey/pork/beef/bacon meatloaf, cold noodles, cheese fondue (jack, cheddar, emmenthaler) with bread cubes, potatoes, and broccoli). Cheese plate, huge creamy cream puffs, spinach mushroom pastries, apple crisp.

To drink: Brown Elephant Punch (pomegranate cider with soda and rum on the rocks); frozen peach vodka, some kind of tequila in the cell phone flask.

The gifts: a tiny Christmas tree, incredible hulk fists, White Chicks DVD, Girls Gone Wild DVD, Brokeback Mountain DVD, Cowsins Gone Wild DVD (from K and R's wedding). A Japanese sake ceremony set in a box. A framed chart plotting the data of a couple's fertilization efforts. A cute teddy bear. I tried to trade for the cute teddy bear, but at the last second I was thwarted, and I ended up with Brokeback Mountain. Also, White Chicks managed to remain in my house after the party; I will keep them both.

We played Catchphrase. Overheard: fire crotch! Penis... Penal colony! Cows... The opposite of... If you get too drunk you ruin your... Wedding! The blank blank of the blankety blank!

H and T tried to rope me into watching Brokeback Mountain, but it didn't work. SNL was on, so I watched that. I'm thinking about buying another DVD player for upstairs. We'll see. They're so cheap now.

I have to go in to work tomorrow for Open House. That's when some sixth graders show up and ask what languages we offer, I tell them Spanish, French, Japanese, German. Then their parents butt in, asking if we teach Latin. I teach modern Latin, sweetheart, it's called Spanish and French.

It's either that, or they ask if we teach Chinese. Look, many students pass their language classes, many even get As. Far fewer, what, one in a thousand? go on and actually learn to speak, read, and write that language. The vast majority of these kids don't learn it because of their high school language class; they learn it because they go and spend time in the target language environment... they learn it in the wild.

And I'll guarantee you one thing; people who learn language are the students who WANT to learn it, NOT the ones who are taking it because it's useful or because they hear the buzz about all the economic benefit. People learn language because they enjoy it; their enjoyment activates their language learning instinct, and once your instinct kicks in, it's hard NOT to learn it.

Amerian second language classrooms do not exist to teach kids target language, anyway, so it doesn't matter if the target language is widely spoken or not. Second language study in America is geared towards grammatical concepts in the first language. They exclaim, "I learned more about English in Spanish class than I do in English class!" Congratulations, genius, that's why we do it. If we were serious about teaching them language, we wouldn't do it in a 5 hour a week classroom.

Shudder. Not looking forward to Open House.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh I LOVE arrozcaldo! My Apo used to make it for me when I was a sick kid. You wouldn't have a recipe by any chance would you? I tried to make this Chinese variation, but it's just not the same. Bliss