If I am to be perfectly honest, I would say that my students at work fall into a perfect bell-curve when it comes to their performance and outcome. It isn’t particularly better or worse than the students I would find in other countries. As expected, most students come in, are able to do the work, don’t really commit, and will never get beyond a certain bottle cap of communicative ability. I imagine that this would be the exact same where I in Coloumbia, Chad, the Czech Republic or francophone Canada (although maybe things would be different in a country with an exceptionally diligent populace, like Japan). I do have the occasional student that is so brilliant and studious that they really shouldn’t be taking classes anyway.
And as expected, I also have the students who fall on the other side of that bell curve, and are so incredibly inept that it is a real wonder how they even manage to get themselves dressed int he morning. For the longest time Judy was not exactly that bad. She would come in with a smile and try her hardest to do the work. I would have gone so far as saying that I liked her. Her company wasn’t unpleasant. I would have put her somewhere in the middle of the bell curve. However, when I met Judy she was a beginner student, and several months later despite her having moved up in level she was still completly unable to communicate anything in English. We had to put her back into elementary even though she had progressed to intermediate by amount of classes taken. Despite her attendance, she really failed to learn anything. She would still come to class with a smile, she would still seem like she was doing her work, she would talk when doing her pair work, but when it came to having to fulfill a class, she never could do it. I started to pay more attention to Judy, and it dawned on me that her comprehension was extremely low. Any question more complex than ‘what’s your name’ was impossible for her to answer.
And then I started to notice that every unanswerable question would be met with a silly chuckle. Nerves, I guessed.
So one day in class I asked Judy a question, and per usual she said nothing, and she instead just flashed me a big goofy grin. So I gave the class of four woman a quick one minute writing task and turned around to quickly board some stuff. And as I had my back turned I heard a noise like a gear being ground against something solid.
So I spun around just as I realized that what I heard was a tremendous fart. And all four of the students had their heads down and were diligently working. Like nothing had happened.
At the time I had no idea who had done it. I did, however, tell all my colleagues. A few days later it had happened to my coworker K, as well as my boss R.
A few days later I had a class with Judy which, due to poor student attendance, ended up being a one on one class. I asked Judy a question which per usual she could not really answer, and in lieu of a proper response, she gave me a loud, trumpeting, apologized-for fart. And she fucking stone-walled the fart as well with a poker face that would have made her a multi-millionaire in Vegas. Not a giggle, not a smile, not a word about it, despite the fact that we were the only two people in the room and I knew for a fact that I was not the one who farted.
I rushed out of class to tell my coworkers only to find out that they had known for days who the farter was, and that Judy had been christened with this nickname a few days ago.
If that were the end of it. But no more than a week later she came to class again, though this time the class had a few more students. I paired them off again (as I always do), and I noticed that Judy got alarmingly close to the poor lad I had paired her with. I mean, she was practically on top of this poor guy’s lap. But then again, this is a country that does not care too much for personal space so I thought nothing of it. But thinking back to other classes, she had done nothing of the sort before. Suspicious.
So I go about my class per usual and all is fine, and during the course of it I largely neglected Judy, knowing full well that she couldn’t answer any question I tossed her way. But guilt eventually hit me, and I threw her a softball. Instead of answering my question, Judy simply smiled, shook her head three times while, farted loudly, then gave me a big dumb toothy grin.
Mind you, she is still so close to her partner as to practically be a Siamese twin.
Judy is married, and has a child. The notion that someone beds this creature is truly horrifying in an almost Lovecraftian manner, particularly in light of these actions. It suddenly became incredibly hard for me to believe that this whole thing was for real. The only explanation I could come up with was that this woman was trolling me. She came in, pretended to be stupid just to see what she could get away with. If that is the case, then this woman is a hero.
I recoil to think of the alternative.
 Pair work is a way teachers have of maximizing engagement. If I am talking to just one student, the rest of the class, even if they are listening, aren’t really participating. By having the students talk to a partner about a certain question, they are both listening and speaking, and thus have maximized their engagement. Now you know.