As much as I try to be a know-it-all here at the TEFL Logue, I must admit I am not immune to mistakes. I’m usually pretty open to admitting when I don’t know something, which pre-empts some uncomfortable situations. But I’ve had my share of “oops” moments.
The worst ones haven’t really been the most amusing ones. It’s extremely frustrating to realize starting out that your lessons just aren’t as engaging or fun as you’d like them to be. So, one more boring mistake, for me anyway, has been assuming a level of earnestness for grammar or just appreciation of learning that is not really present. In my experience, many EFL students want the result of learning, but they quite want to enjoy themselves and not work too hard in the process. This combination is hardly impossible, but it can be challenging to create it and just takes experience.
One more amusing mistake comes from Cutting Edge Advanced vocabulary, “one armed bandit”, specifically. I had every intention of verifying my idea that this refers those con artists on subway trains who move the three cups around, hiding the ball by checking with another native speaker. It wasn’t in the Longman Advanced Learner’s Dictionary or the handy Cutting Edge Mini-Dictionary – and the painfully slow internet was either occupied or…painfully slow. I got to class, realized I wasn’t totally sure, but went ahead. It was later a non-native speaker who pointed out to me that, in fact, this English idiom refers to a slot machine. Oops.
There was the time that I prepared for the wrong class. I turned up in the room, and one of my students passing by told me that the class had actually ended the week before and the new courses were starting today (there was an element of TEFL Disorganization at work here too). This meant that I had about two minutes to prepare to speak before about a hundred people outlining the next class I was going to teach – which was a debate class and which ended up being one of my all-time favorite groups. Luckily I knew of a marvelous getting-to-know you activity that required next to no preparation: two questions.
Check out these other TEFL Logue posts for one additional teacher blooper – not mine, luckily, and names have been changed to protect those involved – and a funny student blooper.
I’d encourage TEFL Logue readers to share here: post a few of your mistakes so we can all have a good collective laugh with – of course not at – each other.