Friday, November 21, 2008

If you were an Austrian teenage girl...

...which famous people would be on your mind?

This past month, as I've mentioned before, I've been at the new school with all the girls. This has been fantastic, as most of my lessons have required little to no preparation, leaving me plenty of novel-writing time. I've done a lot of introductory lessons where I play the sentences game, introduce myself, and have a Q&A time where they can ask me anything about myself or America they can think of. (This year's highlights: What are Austrian men like compared to American men? Do you have a boyfriend? Would you get married and stay in Austria forever? ...Nary a question on war or guns and plenty of questions on boys...Yes, you can tell--I am teaching GIRLS!)

Usually this takes the whole lesson (and in one exceptional class, about 4-5 girls had their hands raised with burning questions right up until the bell rang!), but in a couple of classes the students opted for silence. Not even the usual questions such as 'Do you have brothers or sisters?' were asked. So then I turn the tables--I ask them questions. But eventually even I run dry of interesting things to ask them, and we're stuck with 10-15 minutes left in class...what to do?

I decided to play one of those time-filler games with a couple of particularly quiet classes, asking the girls to write the name of a famous person on a piece of paper, fold it in half, then pass it up to the front. Then I'd choose a student (my new favorite method, if there aren't any volunteers, is to ask, 'Is there anyone named Katharina in the class? No? How about Stefi?...' and so on...), seat her in front of the board, and then tape a name to the board behind her. She has to ask the class questions and try to figure out which famous person is behind her. (It's similar to 20 Questions, but not just yes or no questions.)

The funny thing is, this really gets into the psyche of an Austrian teenage girl. Who are they into? Who are their favorite singers/actors/etc.? I loved getting the answers because it is so telling about what's cool and in right now--and almost all of them were American! So, to give you an insight into what is on teenagers' minds today, here are some of their answers...

  • Johnny Depp (Best question: 'Is he old?' They couldn't reach a consensus on this one--half of them thought he was old and half of them thought he was just kind of old!)

  • Madonna (In contract to Johnny Depp, Madonna was considered 'very old.')

  • Elvis Presley

  • Heath Ledger

  • Hillary Duff

  • Bryan Adams (a surprising choice!)

  • Britney Spears (by far the most popular choice, with 6 entries)

  • Rihanna

  • Paris Hilton (also very popular with about 4 entries)

  • Orlando Bloom

  • George W. Bush

  • Heidi Klum (also pretty popular right now because of her show Germany's Next Top Model)

  • Christiano Ronaldo (I had to look him up...)

  • Brad Pitt (Britney Spears' counterpart, also entered 6 times)

  • Pink

  • Adam Brody (Yes, The OC has made it to Austria)

  • Leonardo DiCaprio (I actually laughed out loud when I read this one, because I realized he was all the rage when I was their age too--around the time that Romeo + Juliet and Titanic came out...and after 12 years, he's still going stong in the hearts of teenage girls!)

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