Thursday, October 23, 2008
The Meaning of Children
I had an interesting exchange with one of my students this week. We were reading a story about a woman who had quadruplets, and one of the exercises after the story asked my student to write how many children were in her family and then how many boys and how many girls. She wrote that she had no children in her family, but then she wrote that she had two boys, which I know is true because we've talked about her sons before. I asked her how she could say that she had two boys but no children. She said "No. They are not children. They are 19 and 25." I was surprised - I've never really thought about the fact that child can mean both "young person" and "offspring." So we talked about how children can grow to be tweens and teenagers and young adults, but they are always your children. My student looked at me like I was crazy when I told her that it's possible to talk about "adult children." But in the end, we both learned something. That's what makes language teaching so much fun.