Their Language Skills Will Periodically Surprise You

| Learning | February 2, 2017

(I teach at a school for English as a second language. My class is the advanced level, but obviously many of the learners are not so proficient. One day, one of my students is absent, and a different young woman who I know is friends with her comes to find me at the break.)

Student: “Um, teacher? [Absent Student] says, tell you she is sick today.”

Me: “Well, I hope she’s all right.”

Student: “Oh, yes, not a big problem. She has… um… woman month pain?”

Me: “Uh. Yes, I see. Thank you for letting me know.”

(Proof that clear communication is possible even with a limited vocabulary!)

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Their Names Are Loco

| Learning | October 8, 2016

(I teach English as a second language to international students.)

Me: “Good afternoon, class. Welcome to Level Five Conversation. Let’s start by going around and introducing ourselves.”

Student #1: “I’m from Japan, and my name is Shoko.”

Student #2: “I’m also from Japan, and my name is Hiroko.”

Student #3: “I’m from Japan, too! My name is Kyoko.”

Student #4: “I’m from Mexico, and my name is Socorro. But no one ever calls me that – you can call me Coco.”

(I probably still could have managed okay, but Shoko and Hiroko were best friends and always sat together, so I never did learn to tell them apart…)

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A Name That Doesn’t Travel Well

| Learning | July 24, 2016

(My last name, Nielsen, while common, causes my school some grievances, as they keep thinking it is Neilson. My middle name is uncommon and they can never spell that right either. We are at an airport as we are going on a field trip.)

Airport Attendant: “Sorry, but we don’t have a Mr. Niel-sen on this flight.”

Me: “Is there a Mr. Neilson?”

Airport Attendant: “Yes, but different middle name, there is no ‘g’ in it.”

Me: *turning to my homeroom teacher* “Odd as this may sound, could you please tell me how to spell my name?”

Teacher: *spells my first name without a flaw and my middle name without the ‘g’* “N-e-i-l-s-o-n.”

Me: *back at the airport attendant* “I probably didn’t order the ticket, so if there is any issues here we can at least agree I am not the one who doesn’t know how to spell my name?”

(They let me go on the trip, though they shouldn’t have.)

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You Shall Not Pass This Iceberg

| Learning | October 7, 2015

(I teach English as a second language. In my conversation class, we’re talking about movies.)

Me: “What’s your favourite movie, [Student]?”

Student:Lord of the Rings!”

Me: “Oh, I love Lord of the Rings. The hobbits are so cute!”

Student: “What?”

Me: “The hobbits. You know, the little short people with the hairy feet.”

Student: “Huh?”

Me: “Um, why don’t you tell me what Lord of the Rings is about.”

Student: “There’s a man and a woman and they fall in love on a boat, but the boat sinks and he dies and it’s very sad.”

Me: “…Titanic. You mean Titanic.”

Student: “Yes! That one.”

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Your Words Are Broken

| Learning | April 22, 2015

Me: “What’s up, [Student]?”

Student: *looking sad* “Oh, teacher, I’m so depressed. I broke my girlfriend.”

Me: “You what?”

Student: “I found out she cheated on me so I had to break her.”

Me: “Oh, you broke up with her. That’s too bad.”

Student: “Yes, yes! I feel so bad; I think I might throw out.”

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