It’s the midsummer heat. The air conditioner is only just keeping up.
It’s summer vacation from school. But not from academy.
It’s the last five minutes of their last class before dinner time.
It’s routine that has long since lost its novelty.
“Repeat the reading after the cd.”
Line by line, they repeat. Their eyes getting deader and deader.
Suddenly I start to laugh. I can’t help it. They notice and look curious.
“You guys. These are your faces. Look around.”
They grin a bit.
“Okay,” I say. “Read the next part like you’re really angry.” I put my hands on my hips and narrow my eyes to demonstrate. Some copy me.
“Okay that’s good. Now do the next one like you’re sleepy.” I put my head to the side and speak slowly. They’re getting into it.
“Nice work. Can you do the next one like you’re robots?” I snap my arms and legs together and some of them do too.
“Good. Do this one like you’re excited.” I raise my arms up. They don’t.
“Not quite. Excited has wider eyes. Say it with your eyes wide open.”
By now they’re all smiling.
“Do the last line like you’re happy.” I smile with them.
“Remember to smile!”
And it’s kind of amazing how the reading aloud (which I use to check pronunciation and intonation) turned from drudgery into tomfoolery with just a tiny change. It also helped them practice a variety of intonations and make the reading more interesting.