Today one of my classes got a little intense due to one kid who was asking the most ridiculously complicated questions and having the co-teacher translate them. All I can say is I'm damn glad I'm a massive grammar nerd and that I actually know a hell of a lot more about English than the average English speaker (if I do say so myself....).
I usually gauge a class's reaction to the basics before moving into more complicated territory. Some of my classes have trouble grasping simple directions for basic assignments, let alone me explaining, in English, why we say things a certain way. This is where years of working with dyslexic, ADHD learners comes in handy -- it's fairly easy for me to find a way to explain something in a non-technical manner, and still have it make sense. Except for the trillions of things that simply don't make sense in English, at which point I just say, it doesn't make any sense.
Today I was trying to explain why, when we say, "Is it okay if I" we usually won't use "have" as the verb. When dealing with passive verbs, we usually use "may I" or "can I". "Is it okay if I" is generally reserved for more active verbs. One student wasn't grasping the entire concept though -- he knew there was something I still wasn't telling them. I wasn't using the words "passive" and "active" -- I was using the examples, "Can I have some food?" and "Is it okay if I eat some food?"
The kid kept pressing and the issue had caught my co-teacher's interest at this point as well, and as I got deeper and deeper into my explanation (to be and to have are passive, because although these are verbs, nothing really changes when you are something or you have something, whereas when you eat something, kick something, take something... a change occurs -- blah blah blah), the rest of the class started to slide down in their seats and look as though they wanted to cry. At which point I had the co-teacher translate the fact that these were concepts native English speaking university students struggle with -- they weren't supposed to understand this at all, at this stage.
Then there was the issue of why "okay" is written as "OK" in the book, but I write it as "okay". I explained that "okay" is a new word to the language -- not as in last year, but as in the last 200 years -- that it is a colloquial word, and no one is quite sure where it comes from. Co-teacher suggested that it came from another language, and I said that this is one theory -- that some believe "okay" came from a similar word in an African slave dialect, and that I was inclined to trust that explanation -- therefore, I favor the "okay" spelling of the word. However, there are more theories positing that "OK" stands for a sort of misspelled or Old English version of "all correct" -- in which case, it would be more correctly written as "OK" or an abbreviation.
At this point, even the over-eager student and the co-teacher were giving me strange looks. The co-teacher paused, and then said, "You have studied this?" I said I had done a little reading about it, because I was curious.
What? I told you I love teaching English....
Also, when fishing for "boss" as an answer today, I was asking, "In the future, who WILL you ask, 'Is it okay if I...?'" Consultation among the boys in Korean, until six or seven in unison shouted out: