Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Things They Say (13). The Rain in Spain...

It's raining this morning in (not always) sunny Spain. So I'm eager to skew the registration conversation around to a little chat about the weather, mainly to see if any of my charges will remember 'raining cats and dogs' which we mentioned last week.
'Look at this weather!' I offer as temptation. Who will bite?
Paula shakes her head sadly. 'We no have de patio,' she laments loudly.
'Hands up, please,' I coax in best Blue Peter manner, a level of enthusiasm not easy to achieve on a wet Monday morning. 'And it's not patio, is it?'
Paula grimaces as she realises her error and searches for the English. She's an enthusiastic little girl, hates it when she can't remember something we've 'done'.
I've got a forest of waving hands. 'Nacho.'
'Playground!' he snaps, preening proudly.
'Oooh! Nearly!' I commiserate, my best 'Rooney hits the bar at the Stretford End' sort of response. He joins Paula in the desperate-grimace club.
Maya has her hand up so high she's threatening to rip the seams of her shirt. I hope it's not the toilet she wants, so I ask her next.
'Playstation!' she gasps, rather obliquely. I suppress a guffaw although it's not easy, and the lack of any response from the rest of the class only adds to the latent humour. 
'Nearly...' is the only response I feel able to offer.
I begin to wonder if I'm ever going to get back to my 'cats and dogs' conversation, but Max saves the morning by telling all that we're going to call patio 'playtime' now that we're big juniors.
'So, back to the weather in the playground,' I twist, almost seamlessly. 'What's happening today?'
Paula is back in contention with a look of certainty on her face and her hand up in the air. I reward her with the floor. 'Ees- ees-,' she starts, unpromisingly. 'Ees- ees- lluve!'
'But in English?' I coax.
Lots of hands, they must get it now. I pick María, bright as a button, confident smile on her face.
'It's raining!' she announces, like she's Michael Fish. A perfect translation of Paula's effort, but not quite what I'm looking for...
'Yes, but don't you remember we talked last week about the funny thing that English people say when it's raining a lot...? What do we say is falling out of the clouds?'
A rainforest of hands now; well, at least a dozen. I choose Pablo, although he doesn't look so sure...
'Ees water?' he says.
'Miguel?'
'Ees raining the animals!' he gasps, like he's been underwater for the last 30 seconds.
'Yes! But which ones?'
Now, finally, I have them all. Hands waving, seams stretching, brains buzzing. 'Marta!'
The horses and the sheeps?' she asks, like she thinks it's a guessing game I'm playing. I wonder if I should take a trip down the blind alley which is the correct plural of sheep but I decide to leave that to year six.
'No, I told you last week!' (I can't remember why; it wasn't even raining last week.) 'Alex?'
'Ees raining the dogs and the cats!' he announces triumphantly, to groans of disappointment from the majority who feel beaten by a last-gasp penalty.
I know I'm going to have to correct this. I can't have them going home and telling abuelito (little granny) that Mr. D. taught them this hilarious bit of English eccentricity. What if abuelito speaks enough English to make me look a tonto (fool)?
But Carmen might be just about to do it for me. She's the only one with her hand still up, and she looks pretty annoyed. 'What's the matter, Carmen?'
Carmen takes a deep breath, folds her arms crossly, and lets rip. 'You say when ees raining de dogs and de cats, that mean ees raining mucho, mucho, MUCHO! But no ees raining mucho, mucho, MUCHO now. Only ees chispeando!'
There's a bit of grumpy nodding from one or two others who might have remembered this detail, without also managing to recall the phrase in question. Mercifully I know that chispeando, in this context, means 'spitting'. Sadly, it's taken so long to get to this point that the downpour has abated somewhat and, to give Carmen her due, describing it as raining cats, dogs or any other sort of animal (beyond maybe a few ants), is now pushing it a bit. I also now have a whole literacy hour of explanations to make. 
Should I start with why it has to be 'cats and dogs' and not the other way around? Or maybe I should point out (again) that we don't need 'the' (or even 'de') in front of said dogs, cats, horses and sheep (not sheeps)?

I look at my watch. Time for maths, maybe?

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