I want to take a moment to talk about a pedagogical experiment I’m trying. And no, it doesn’t involve Northwest Airlines.
That’s right, when I teach English, my co-teachers are five stupid dope brothas from Compton. Before anyone involved in my job at the school gets concerned, I am not running this experiment there. I’m doing it with a private student of mine in Tbilisi, a fourth grade boy. His English is better than that of any student at my school, so I figured we could try something more interesting than what is usually done in English lessons..
What we’re doing, for two one-hour lessons a week, is listening to NWA songs and going through every line, slowly and painstakingly, until he understands all of it. Occasionally we work on him repeating the lines back along with the recordings, and we will probably do more of this as he gets better at listening.
My Georgian-English dictionary (compiled by Tamar and Isidore Gvarjaladze) translates it as “Negro.” However, I recently talked to a black American in Tbilisi (a fellow itinerant English teacher) who told me that the word means “nigger.” I asked him how he knew that it was the latter and not the former, and he told me that he heard it from a Nigerian (who had come to Georgia, as many have in the past few years, to find work).
I found “ZANgi” carved in an empty room at my school. The kids told me that there was a dark-skinned student whose nickname was “Zangi.” Since carving their names is popular pastime among the students, he carved it.