Friday, 22 May 2009

East And East, The Twain Shall Meet

Recently my Acquired Daughter accompanied me to my morning writing class. She'd just finished her last exam and was feeling giddy with relief.

Although my students aren't finished with their final exams, that didn't matter: they were in a party mood. The minute they saw I had someone young and interesting with me, a couple of the ones who usually skip out as soon as I come in, slunk back to their seats. When I introduced Acquired Daughter, they looked puzzled. "Your daughter?" We don't look in the least bit alike.

"Well, yes."

Before I had the time to write prompts on the board, they were asking questions: they even interrupted each other in their eagerness, asking her about her life, her interests, her likes and dislikes -- and her family members. This was tricky: back in Scotland, Acquired Daughter has siblings that have nothing to do with me; all of a sudden I acquired sons. A boy in the front row was particularly impressed with how many children I had, and I gave up trying to tell him that I've only given birth to two.

Still, the visit was a huge success: a few of my students probably spoke more English in the first 30 minutes of this class than they have in the entire course. Suddenly English was real communication, not just a falsely perky teacher tormenting them with present perfect and reported speech.

Then came this question: What kind of music do you like?

Acquired Daughter gave them a broad smile -- and magic words. "I like Turkish music. Like Düm Tek Tek."

Düm Tek Tek was this year's Turkish Eurovision Contest entry. It was beaten by Azerbaijan, but it came in ahead of Great Britain. It's a big hit among my students and my own progeny have been playing it non-stop too.

Everyone cheered. I'm so sick of Düm Tek Tek I could scream, but they were obviously thrilled that my daughter had even heard of it.

"What else do you like?" someone asked.

"Asian music," answered Acquired Daughter promptly. "Like Dong Bang Shin Ki."

"Who is that?" a girl in the front row asked.

"They're from Korea." Picking up her mobile, Acquired Daughter punched a few buttons and the classroom was filled with the delightful sounds of Dong Bang Shin Ki's Mirotic.

There was a general buzz of approval. "I like that! What is name?"

Within 30 seconds, five kids had Dong Bang Shin Ki's Mirotic on their mobile phones.

Today, I heard Mirotic blasting from someone's mobile phone as I was walking down the corridor. I looked to see if I recognized who was playing it, but I didn't. Acquired Daughter has done her bit to turn Turkish students on to Dong Bang Shin Ki.

Somewhere in Tokyo where my oldest daughter is working as an au pair, a little Japanese boy may well be lisping Düm Tek Tek.


Robert the Skeptic said...

And I feel like a genius if I can figure out simply how to change the ring tone on MY phone!

Charles Gramlich said...

What a world! It's cool that we get such cross fertilization.

Kim Ayres said...

Anyone looked up Qawali Sham Sufi Group yet?

kara said...

i like how music can travel even though it doesn't have legs.

Mary Witzl said...

Robert -- You can do that? Sheesh, I have to ask my kids how to do that!

Charles -- Yes, and every time I marvel at this I feel so damn old.

Kim -- Well I have! The name alone gives me shivers: Qawali Sham Sufi -- woo!

Kara -- Yes. Who needs legs when you've got teenagers with mobiles?

Charlie said...

It's a wonderful thing to see kids and young people embracing the music from other cultures--perhaps that is the key to world peace someday.

Eryl Shields said...

I think Charlie could have something, if music be the food of love...

Needless to say I haven't heard of any of these bands, but then my son put on a British band the other day and I didn't have a clue who they were either!

adrienne said...

That's great! It sounds like it made a good lesson plan, too - you should bring her to class more often.

Angela said...

I see a connection between pretty girls and an interest in speaking English, lol...

Mary Witzl said...

Charlie -- I find this really heartening too. I especially love how popular Korean music and TV shows are among Japanese kids, and vice versa. There is bad history between these two countries, but you'd never notice it to look at the kids.

Eryl -- Believe me, I only know a tiny fraction of what is trendy and cool in the music world, and I owe it all to my kids' relentless attempts to indoctrinate me. But there are some good new bands out there and it's worthwhile getting to know them.

Adrienne -- You're right: I was able to put my lesson plan aside as it was obviously superfluous. This is the second time I've brought a native English-speaking girl to class and I'm beginning to see that it's a lot more effective than me with my white board, CD player and textbook.

Angela -- I see the connection too! In fact, I think I've got a new teaching method here: English through hormones.

Bish Denham said...

That is SO cool. Music is and always has been and always will be the unifying force.

Now, I must go check out these groups.

poppy fields said...

I love hearing music from different countries on the radio here, especially the African music. And I love being a part of this in some small, small way.

Robin said...

How cool that your kids, both acquired and blood related, have been exposed to all these great things! I'm going to look up these songs ASAP. I've been listening to the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire and thinking I was cool. Sigh.

Barbara Martin said...

I must be living in a cave, so I'm off to learn more about those music groups. Thanks, Mary, for another entertaining post.