Pretty straightforward, we were to spend the period telling jokes, riddles and funny stories. As a starter, I had some riddles and their answers in a table in Word, printed them out, and cut them up in such a way that they were strips of paper--long strips with the riddle, short ones with the answer. I mixed them up and handed them out, and had students take turns reading their long strips. Hopefully, someone recognizes that one of their short strips is the answer, and reads it out to pursuant hilarity.
Next, I told them a few jokes to get things started: A snowman walks into a bar. He says to the bartender, "It smells like carrots in here." etc. Of course, the problem with jokes in translation is that they often rely on wordplay or separate meanings of a word for their humor, and nothing kills a joke like having to explain it. So I had to pick my jokes carefully.
Same thing is true, of course, with Korean jokes, and the students, though there are three pretty bright ones among them, had trouble finding more than a few that they could translate well.
So, Mr Kim eventually told the following story:
You, Cam-brell, are on top of a mountain all alone. You are in a hut. You are sitting in your hut meditating, it is late at night and the moon is full. You hear a noise behind you. Do you think it is:
- a dog
- a ghost
- the wind
- the falling leaves
- a man
- a wild animal
This is somewhat simplified, since Mr Kim is the English illiterate I mentioned, and relied on his classmates for considerable help. That's okay, though, since they got vocab practice and he might have picked up a few words along the way. Anyway, I had no idea where this was going, but I don't believe in ghosts and I doubt falling leaves would make enough noise outside my hut for me to notice. So I chose the wind.
Mr Kim says, "Berra good! You, psychotic, no!"
I wiped my brow in pretend relief, and asked what the hell he was talking about. It turns out that somewhere in Korean kid culture, there has arisen these little scenarios which purport to determine whether the respondent is a "psychotic".
The next psychotic test was the following:
You hear a commotion on the street below your apartment very late one night (in Seoul, I guess you are assumed to live in an apartment). You look out the window and you see a man stab a woman to death!
Immediately afterward, he makes eye contact with you, so you know he's seen you and you can identify him. What do you think he will do next?
I said, "I guess he will try to memorize my face so he can try to kill me to keep me silent."
"Oh, good! You are not a psychotic!"
Apparently, if I had answered that the killer was counting the floors up to my window so he could actually locate me and affect my demise, I would be a "psychotic".
We went through one or two more, I wasn't pressing the joke angle since at least they were talking, and I am happy to announce that I am certifiably non-psychotic in the Korean schoolboy psychological paradigm.
PS: If you have heard other such "psychotic tests" from your students, please do add them in the comments to this post. I'd really like to know.