Cursing in My Classes: Spread those Sheets

September 13, 2008

I’ve taught Excel classes for perhaps twenty years. When I teach a class, I do a quick evaluation of the classes’ tolerance for edgy humor and decide whether or not to include this little note about technical vocabulary.

When I first started teaching Excel, I noticed I used two words quite a bit. Each of these words made me nervous. Right from the start I made it a point to pronounce these words very carefully.

One word is SHIFT, as in “Press the Shift key.”

The other word is SHEET, as in, “Excel is called a Spreadsheet program. Each Excel file contains one or more sheets for entering data.”

I tell them that I always make a point of enunciating these two words very carefully, so there is no possibility of anyone mistaking what I am saying.

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2 Responses to “Cursing in My Classes: Spread those Sheets”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    That must be tough in a room full of ESL students.

  2. modestypress Says:

    I generally don’t share this information in a room full of ESL students. However, I have noticed that a surprising number of ESL students (in mixed classes) do get it. I am not an ESL expert, but I suspect there is an “underground” ESL education stream where people pick up a lot of vital idioms quite quickly.

    However, one never knows. I was chatting one day with an East Indian volunteer I was training, a pleasant young married woman in her 20s, and she asked me about my daughter (whom I had mentioned in passing) and asked me if my daughter was married.

    I don’t necessarily toss out information about my daughter’s domestic relationship in every conversation, but I don’t hide it either, and answer direct questions directly.

    So I briefly explained.

    The Indian woman stared at me in her shock, her eyes wide in amazement.

    That night, I looked up the words “lesbian” and “India” in Google to see if Indian women were somehow immune from this behavior. Evidently not, from the web pages I found, but perhaps some Indian women are immune about knowing about such behavior.


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