I had a student five years ago named J.G. Lee. I remember him as small and smiling, naive and optimistic, and humorous but polite. I think he was in 7th grade at the time. After four and a half years of no contact at all, I recently came to learn a primary memory he has of me, and was thereby moved to write these words:
Communicating using a phone-based instant messaging program during his visit, the boss wrote to me: "[J.G.] is here. Do you remember him?" I did. I said I remember an essay he wrote proposing making an alien a pet. I thought it was funny and clever and I kept the essay. He had no memory of this essay. Instead, he said he remembers "Low five".
What is "low five"? It came back to me. Some of these boys at the hagwon in those days really liked doing "high five". Don't ask me why. I used their predilection towards high-fiving to introduce them to the world of playing with language. You know this one: "Give me five -- Up high! -- Down low!...Too slow!" It was amazing to be able to use this on kids who flatly didn't see it coming at all. A variant of this was instead of "high five", doing "low five". I remember also doing things like "Give me four" (four fingers) instead of "five" and so on.
This may all seem very silly, I know. I was supposedly his English teacher. But that "Low Five" has stuck with him shows, we might say, that the impact I made on him was a positive one. From me, his mind more firmly grasped that English is a living language (which surprisingly-few East Asians in East Asia seem to truly understand; trained by their system to do so, they imagine English to be a form of mathematics, more or less). Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure these boys didn't even understand what "high five" meant, they just knew it as a stock phrase, picked up from somewhere, treating it like Westerners might treat a Latin phrase, like "et cetera". We know the function of "et cetera" as we use it in English, but we don't actually understand it in its own language and we couldn't manipulate it into some other form in Latin. (But, then, Latin is a dead language.) Likewise, "high five" had no meaning to the boys except as a substitute for the phrase "slap my hand" (as "etc." is a substitute for "and so on"). But if "Low Five" is possible, then English is a living language which can be played with!