Categories: News

Learning the Difference Between the War of Independence and the US Civil War the Hard Way

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As copywriters my colleague Leslie and I spend most of our days in front of our computer screens furiously writing blog posts, tweets and other documents. So it was with great pleasure that we accepted an invitation from Monica Bjelde to leave our desks for a breath of fresh air and visit her class at Gimle school in Bergen, Norway.

Officially, the purpose of the visit was to dole out an award to Monica. As the 2,000th person to like the itslearning Facebook page she won a great itslearning prize package, including the backpack, USB stick, water bottle and lanyard shown here with Monica:


      But Monica had plans for us. She wanted us to address these guys:

As native English speakers, Monica wanted us to talk about America, where Leslie is from, and Canada, where I am from. We were more than happy to oblige! Her Grade 10 students were also in the middle of a unit on the the Commonwealth of Nations. Though Canada was on their list of countries to study, they had not come to it yet so I seized the moment to drop some knowledge. We started out by introducing ourselves and asking the students where they thought we were from based on our accents.

As I expected, most students guessed that I was American. I get this a lot in Norway. There are small differences that make the Canadian and American accents distinct from each other, but subtle as they are, they are probably hard for non-native English speakers to pick up on. So I forgive them for guessing wrong. Leslie talked about Boston, where she is originally from. As a former teacher, she was good at engaging the students, asking them questions and encouraging them to comment.

I do not have as much experience speaking in front of a class, but I did manage to find out that one student had skied at Whistler in Canada (the best ski resort in the universe) and another had been to Montreal. I also confused the Civil War with the War of Independence when trying to explain why the US is not (and never will be) part of the Commonwealth, a moment that gave me a glimpse into how difficult it must be to be a teacher!

Then it was time to award the prize! Monica and her students gathered for this group shot in front of the chalkboard.

A fine bunch!

Thanks for inviting us into your classroom, Monica! We hope your students are slightly better versed in the nuances of the English language as a result of our visit! And to all those who entered the 2,000 likes contest, thanks for participating! Keep an eye out on our page for more fun contests (and cool prizes) to come!