Teacher Tales - Page Eight
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The Little Toy
Several years ago in Japan I taught a group of (Japanese) High School English teachers. One day one guy approached me after the lesson and asked if he could ask me a question. He was going to America for the summer, and was very worried because someone had told him that Japanese men are much smaller in the underpants department than Americans, and he was afraid American girls might laugh at him. So would I be kind enough to take a look and tell him whether he had anything to worry about? I immediately told him that that would not be necessary, that the stories he had heard were absolutely true, and that to save humiliation he should keep his trousers firmly on at all times. Women of America, you can thank me!
I was interviewing my beginner student for my CELTA course...I asked what his job was...he said 'I am a liar.' Hmmmm!! After asking him several more related questions to which he kept insisting tha he was a liar, we had a good laugh when we realized he meant 'lawyer'!!
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To Which I Replied..
One day as I was sitting in class a student came in and asked me a question. She asked me what were the 8 vowels.
Tina Smith, Camden
The second period class were already assembled when I returned from my in-between-class break. It was the first day of school and it was my first day with the school, a private catholic school for girls. They were imaculately polite. Silent in fact. It must have taken 10 full minutes before one brave student whispered to me, "Teacher, uh... how you say, uh.. Zip?"!
Bren Salamon, US
Mind Your Language
As an ESL teacher, I've reminded my students that it's impolite to speak their native languages around others who don't understand--plus being an excellent reason to practice English. I experienced a twist on that when I visited Brazil a few years back. I was on a bus going to Rio de Janeiro with a Brazilian friend who's fluent in English. My Portuguese is very limited, so we talked in English the whole time. We were tired and started to make comments to each other about our bus mates, assuming they wouldn't understand a word we were saying. After 3 or 4 hours, the child sitting directly in front of us turned to us and spoke to us in perfect English. He lived in Rio and was traveling with his mother...an English teacher! Both had heard and understand everything we had said about people on the bus, including them! Later, we saw them on the beach in Rio and we were still too embarrassed to even look them in the eye.
You never know who knows what language!
DJ, Texas, USA
I teach grade one and have always worked with younger children. On Monday, during lunch duty in the intermediate hallway, I was so upset when ten grade eight students stood and stared me down when told that they needed to go out for recess then and that they should have gotten ready when asked beforehand. They were told that they would stay after school for every minute after the bell because this was my lunch time that they were wasting. They got ready and stood their ground in the hallway until one of the girls, after applying three layers of make-up, declared that this was boring and out they went. They stayed ten minutes after school and wrote apology letters, which funny enough did not seem too sincere! I was so frustrated, helpless and belittled.
Sunny Side Up
I was beginning my first year teaching ESL and wanted to show off my Spanish speaking skills to my students. I started a lesson about breakfeast and tried to explain that I had eggs to eat for breakfast. (I said this in Spanish). None of the class spoke a word. After a few minutes one of the little girls who spoke some English asked if she could talk to me privately. She then whispered in my ear, "Excuse me miss, but you used the wrong word for eggs, you just told the class that you had a man's private part for breakfast." I was never so embarrased, but I learned to check all my words now before I speak them.
Mrs. Plante, Pawtucket.
The People They Let Teach These Days...
I was teaching a group of second graders about China. During the process I introduced the numbers 1 - 9 in Chinese so the children could write them. After writing the numbers in Chinese a student asked if she could write her name in Chinese. I told her that I did not know how to write Chinese letters. A student from the back of the classroom then exclaimed, "And you're a teacher!"
Last week, while grading (4th grade) Social Studies tests covering World War I and World War II, I was suprised to find this response to an essay question. The question was: Why did the United States finally decide to become involved in World War II? Garrett's response read: The U.S. decided to become involved in WWII because the Japanese came and bombed Paul Harvey.
Here is my story: I was teaching my year 10 japanese class, and the lesson was going smoothly and the girls were all working for a change. I stepped back to write something on the board and the heel on my boot snapped off,......the lesson errupted into giggles while i was left to teach in my socks. To make things worse I had to go and borrow a pair of shoes from lost property for the rest of the day!
Bronwyn, New Zealand
An embarrasing moment was in my first year of teaching. It was my first formal evlauation from my principal. I was in the middle of my "exciting" lesson when I saw one of my students-you know the kind you will never forget- he was eating grapes! I just walked over and took them without missing a beat from my lesson. When I mentioned it to the principal a few months later, he said he never even saw what had happened. Thank goodness.
The Dangling Modifier
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My first experiences were my worst! I taught a class in Siemens Electric, and it just so happens that they have electrical outlets on the floor!! Sticking out about four inches from the floor. This is terrible, you can't walk without watching your step. One morning during my class I was so involved in my teaching... that I didn't notice I was on a one way trip to the floor from tripping on one of those badly positioned outlets! I fell right in front of all my students. It was awful! You can imagine the rest.
Short Changed Students.
My class ran from 7pm to 8.30pm For some reason, my lizard brain told me at 8.00 (half an hour early) that the lesson was over. So I started packing my books, rewinding my tapes etc. All the while, the students sat politely and waited for the next activity. Around five minutes passed. I began to get a bit annoyed. I was tired and wanted to go home, but professionalism demanded that I be the last to leave the room. But these guys were obviously not going anywhere. Finally I 'gave up' and suggested that we all go for a drink. One of the students said it was a bit early; the class wasn't over yet. They took it well. I think they were impressed by how polite I was when faced with a roomful of unmoving clients. But as you can imagine, they didn't let me forget the event for about six months.
Another Argument For Not Using Students' First Language In The Class.
Picture the scene - first time in front of a class as a language assistant in Spain. I was a nervous 19 year old while the class was made up of thirty budding mechanics of various ages from 17 to 20 depending on how many times they'd been made to repeat a year at school! I did the usual "My name is" etc etc and panicked as I was running out of things to say so I started making things up (so sad a life did I lead!) and said "I have a rabbit". A sea of blank faces. I tried helping them out by translating "Tengo un conejo" which is the equivalent of saying "I have a pussy" in English. They seemed more interested after that..... Ah the joys of learning a foreign language!
I Did Exactly As I Was Asked.
I was teaching a Beginners class, theme was "Meeting people - inviting a person to coffee/dinner/outing etc." 6 students in the group. Each student role-played inviting one of the other students(or me, the teacher) out to something/somewhere. One student invited all the group to a picnic with his family which was planned for the following weekend. He was so convincing, halting english notwithstanding, that I thought it was a genuine invitation for everyone to attend. He slowly and carefully gave clear directions on how to get to the planned picnic spot. Embarrassingly for him, and me, at the end of the class I asked him to let us know again the time to arrive and what we should bring to the picnic etc. He looked a little non-plussed and then turned bright pink, became embarrassed, and only then did I realise he had role-played the part so well I took it as a sincere invitation!! It became even more embarrassing when he said he wasn't sure of the details - the poor man was at a loss for words to explain that it was only role-play. I tried to smooth out the misunderstanding but he remained very doubtful. I suppose the poor fellow cancelled the family day out for fear of invasion by his english teacher and class!! Worse still - he hasn't returned to the class and I can't contact him. Oh boy, did I learn a lesson!
First Day of Teaching
I have been teaching for 5 years and I love telling this story to new teachers. I was fresh out of college and eager to begin my first teaching assignment in the South Bronx, NY. I was so attentive during the new teacher orientation workshops and took notes on how to survive the first week. As suggested I over-planned for that first week and created name tags for all of my 35 first grade students. I began by taking attendance and placing a name tag on each student as their name was called. I gave them all a notebook and hade them write their names on the cover and while I was assisting those who were unsure, I asked them to practice writing their first and last names in the notebook until we were ready to proceed.