How to Perform a Play in English without Knowing English

�How to Perform a Play in English without Knowing English�.That was the name of the presentation I gave today to an auditorium full of Education students.Ok�it wasn�t the official title, but it was definitely the title in my head.I was asked to give this presentation for the Student Development Class.In case you�ve forgotten about Student Development Class, it�s a surprisingly expensive required course in which students take turns singing karaoke.They also write and perform plays in English once a year, hence the presentation about how to perform a play in English without knowing English.

Now, I know it isn�t impossible to give performances in languages you don�t actually know.I used to accompany vocal students at NAU who were always singing in Italian, French, and German.But those students took diction classes where they learned the pronunciation of those languages.They didn�t learn how to sing in French by sitting in on a 2-hour lecture about French by a French person who doesn�t speak English.

As I�m sure you can tell, I went into this presentation with a bad attitude.My attitude got much worse as the event unfolded, however.Before I go into that, I should clarify what I knew about the presentation before I went into the auditorium.I knew that I needed to fill a length of time ranging anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours with a talk about �English�.I couldn�t talk about pronunciation, because Daniel was covering that.I was brainstorming for weeks, and I couldn�t come up with anything useful.You just can�t learn a language by listening to someone talk about the language for a couple of hours.Eventually, I settled on talking about nonverbal communication.I wrote some notes on the subject and could really only scrounge up about 10 minutes worth of material.The jist of my talk was this:Last semester, I couldn�t hear anyone�s lines because the audience screamed and cheered through most of the performances.Make sure your actions are good enough that no one needs to hear or understand your words.(Don�t worry!I made it sound nicer than that!)

So this afternoon I asked what time I needed to give my presentation.The answer was �sometime between 3 and 6�.When I went into the auditorium, there was a table with 3 chairs and microphones.There were also 3 name cards.From far away, it looked like 2 of the names were in Thai.The one in English was Daniel�s.I was really offended that they asked me to do this presentation and then didn�t set up a place for me.This led to angry venting (in my mind, not out loud) about how I�ve been working for KKU for 7 months and my name still isn�t on the office door.We were sitting to the side of the stage waiting to be introduced when Sarantip told me that we needed to speak for 2 hours.This information just made the anger inside boil up more, but I managed to keep it in and say �I�m sorry.I can only talk for 10 minutes.�When we were all asked to take our places on the stage, I saw that one of the name cards was actually for me.It was just written really small in funny font.I felt silly for being so angry.

The presentation was pretty bad.It�s disheartening to look out at a bunch of blank, uncomprehending faces in your audience.It feels like there�s no point to speaking.And really, there was no point.I didn�t have anything useful to say, and the students didn�t understand me anyway.

I try to avoid writing about my frustrating experiences in my blog.I don�t want to sound unhappy or negative, and I certainly don�t want to dwell on things I don�t like about working here.But I have to say that I really hate these events where I�m expected to talk for hours on end about nothing, and with no preparation.I like to think I�m a flexible person, but I�m just not that flexible!

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