Teaching English - Tales from the Classroom
This month we look at some anecdotes from teachers.
“During a discussion on pastimes, I asked my co-teacher to bring in some of her interests, and she produced Bad Boys II and a Bruce Willis flick. Things were going well, and I tried a few questions out on the class
‘What does Miss Far do in her spare time?’
‘She does Bad Boys’, one student said, innocently. I frowned at him but figured no-one else got it so rapidly moved on.”
Choosing the right material is always important. That didn’t quite happen during one reading exercise my co-teacher had produced:
She gave out a worksheet about Pattaya, famed for its bar girls and exotic/erotic nightlife. The sheet boldly informed the 13-year-olds: ‘You will find a profusion of clubs and cabarets which cater to every taste and persuasion, and Pattaya’s famously charming hostesses will delight all your senses.’ I bet they couldn’t wait for the field trip.
Still, it wasn’t as bad as the teacher who got sacked from an all-girls Catholic school for doing a lesson on the merits of birth control.
Activities can take precedence over lessons, especially when the school is asking parents to pay for a show their children are performing in. Academic camps are also a big deal, although they don’t tend to be academic and there usually isn’t any actual camping involved. I was measured up for a special T-shirt (which didn’t arrive in time), and asked to come up with a game for the students to keep them amused for an hour.
“My plan was for students to bring in a local English-language newspaper, pick out 20 words and then translate them. If there was time, they were to then use the words in a new sentence.
In the afternoon one group was lagging and had done very little for the first 20 minutes. As soon as I went over to check on them it became obvious why.
They had brought along a copy of the German version of the local newspaper. Even when I patiently explained their mistake a couple of them carried on searching for words they didn’t know – which amounted to all of them – before I removed the paper and added the word ‘muppet’ to their vocabulary.
During a visit to a school for some speaking tests, I was led up a flight of stairs to the classrooms.
At the top of the stairs a large, beautifully-design mural had been stuck to the wall. And in giant, cut-out letters the word ‘cock’ was staring at me.
I looked again and saw that alongside other signs said: ‘badgers’, ‘elephants’, ‘foxes’. The Irish teacher leading the way nodded apologetically and said ‘I know, we told them, we told them…’
Teaching English: How to Teach English as a Second Language (ESL)” is written by award-winning writer Mark Beales. It’s available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble (Google ‘Mark Beales Teaching English’). Or you could try Mark’s other ebook: ‘The Ultimate Guide to Pattaya’.
If you are a teacher in Thailand with an anecdote to share we'd love to hear from you.