I was listening to some Pandora today, minding my own business, when suddenly a song came on in a foreign language. Spanish or something. No idea. But, I didn’t realize it was a different language for about half the duration of the song (because it was fast song…and sometimes foreign languages just don’t sound that foreign, you know?). For the first half I just sat there and stared. Bewildered. Utterly mortified that I had NO IDEA what this songstress was saying. I mean, it was truly jarring. I thought my capacity for all spoken (or, I suppose, sung) language had left me.



Then my teacher brain kicked in with a lovely little revelation.

This is what my students feel like when they don’t understand what I’m teaching about! This is why they sit there with the same look on their face that I had during this tricky little song. In all honesty, I’m a little ashamed that it took me this long to truly understand this.

So, now I’m thinking about how to remedy this. Maybe try to recreate this moment in class and explain to them that we all have this happen to us sometimes? Maybe simply tell them this story? All I know is that my students tend to make improvements if I expose to them that I have the same faults as them. We are all human. We need to help each other when we can. We also need to ask for help when we need it. I sure wish I had a Spanish speaker nearby to ask what was going on in the song (or Portuguese, or whatever the language was…and no, I don’t have any idea how it came on my Black Keys Pandora station).

And I don’t even want to start thinking about what ESL students must go through. Yikes.


I have a unique perspective on teaching. As a young guy, I still have that “world is my oyster” perspective on life, so I am more than willing to try new things in the pursuit of happiness. I have always been a naturally happy person and don’t shy away from trying to make others see that it’s easy to be happy! Thus, the blog you’re reading. The main impetus for actually putting all the work in to getting this blog up and running? A coworker stopped me in the hall one day and actually reprimanded me for being so smiley all the time. They actually said that I shouldn’t be so happy as a teacher! My response? Screw that! I SHOULD be happy. I now smile at that coworker EVERY time I see them…and usually say something like, “Isn’t this such great day to be a teacher?!” They don’t usually smile back… Don’t be like them.

Posted in Quick Smiles Tagged with: , ,
6 comments on “Um…what?!
  1. Zach Bartel says:

    Very true. All of it. …also, do you remember the name of the song? Just curious 🙂

  2. Claire says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog via Love, Teach. This is a really good analogy to the bewildered state we sometimes find ourselves in! I have definitely done this before, particularly when I was living overseas in a restaurant and when I heard a nearby conversation in English it would take a while to register that I could, in fact, understand what they were saying! Did you talk to your students about it?

    • Josh says:

      I actually DID talk to my students about it, and we discussed strategies to try to understand the world around you when you simply cannot. It was pretty fun. 🙂

      Also, isn’t Love, Teach just awesome? Love her.

  3. Andrea376 says:

    That reminds me of all those Korean movie we love to watch without having any idea about the language 😀
    But don’t feel bad as a teacher! The case with students is different. There is this very prominent fact that not all children likes to study. There is this issue with concentration and interest. So there is no point blaming the teacher. I am sure you don’t have a magic wand; actually no teacher has but each on has the power of learning 🙂
    What else do we need?

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