This Happened II

Teaching English as a foreign language is a strange creature. Some things you can prepare for; you can study your grammar books, prepare flash cards, and walk into a lesson confident in your plan. 

Then it all comes crashing down.

Okay, that’s a little dramatic. But I have had lessons get derailed before I even know what’s happening. All a student needs to do is print out the lyrics to a rap song and start questioning its meaning and next thing you know it’s so far out of your hands that there’s no coming back. It’s okay though, there’s always next week.

In my previous post I mentioned spotting something amusing in my first lessons at a new company. You’ll all be happy to know that the second week of lessons didn’t disappoint.

It was the second-to-last group of the day, and we were looking at a chapter that described different jobs and responsibilities of those jobs. We’d already covered all of the student’s jobs, so I had them each write down three different jobs on scraps of paper (with extra points for creativity of course, there’s nothing worse than having all of them write down ‘engineer’), and then we were going to play a version of ’20 Questions.‘ One of them was joking about writing down slightly inappropriate careers, and I said I didn’t care, as long as it was in English and they could describe it. They laughed and carried on with the task.

We went around the room, each student taking a job, and the others asking “yes or no” questions, to try and determine the person’s occupation. It went pretty well, and after a doctor, a teacher, a soldier, and a few engineers, soon our time was up. I gathered up the scraps and put them aside because I thought they might come in handy in the next group.

My last group of the day is one of the biggest classes I’ve taught, with eight people. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re used to having 25 students, eight is quite a lot. There was some discussion about rearranging the groups when I took them over, but the previous teacher almost insisted that this group in particular stayed together. After the first lesson it was clear why, they all get along really well and spend most of the hour laughing. Can’t ask for much more than that. 

For our lesson we were discussing the present continuous tense (no, I’m not going to get all grammar-y on you, don’t worry), and I got out the job titles from the previous group. The idea was for them to take a job, and introduce themselves with the title, and say what they were doing at the moment. For example: I am a teacher, I am teaching grammar. 

Easy enough, right? 

We got through the first round with no problem. The next student took a piece of paper, and burst out laughing. What was on the paper?

Did I mention the student who pulled this was the only woman in the class? Luckily she had a sense of humor and managed to produce her sentence in between laughter from the others. 

I daresay I underestimated that first group, and I’ll be needing to keep a closer eye on them when they start making those jokes in the future. Wednesdays should be interesting from now on.

Any other teachers have pranksters in their groups?  

This Happened I 


5 thoughts on “This Happened II

  1. I was once teaching from a worksheet I hadn't looked over well enough. One of the questions was 'what are some things that men can do and women can't?' Awful question for a room full of men (engineers). I got stuff like- men can pee standing up, men can marry more than one woman in Saudi Arabia, men can park a car. I would never have them answer that questions again 🙂

  2. I used to play a game in my classes where a student would have to describe someone in the room and the class had to guess who they were talking about. My two favorite descriptions from one class were the one for the teacher and the one for me. The teacher's was “she is old, she has orange hair, she smokes and she can be mean.” Mine was “she is short, she is young, she has blond hair, she is American.”


  3. Pingback: Weird and Wacky Wednesday: Donkey Bridge Edition | Heather Goes to Deutschland

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