Monday, 9 January 2012

Every day is an episode of Mind Your Language...

When I was much younger, I used to watch a British show called Mind Your Language on one of our local television channels. Back then, I never ever thought I'd be living my very own version of the show on a daily basis.

As it is, my French-speaking students can't pronounce the letter "H". I get this quite often:

Student: Teacher, I'm angry.
Me: Why, what happened?
Student: I'm angry, I want to go to the canteen for lunch.
Me: You mean you're hungry.
Student: Yes, angry.
Me: No, Hungry...
Student: Angry...
Me: Hungry, say it with me Hung-gry.
Student: Ang-gry
Me: HUNGRY... H-Hungry
Student: H-Angry
Me: Never-mind, go for lunch.

And then there are other times when I put my fair share of heart and soul in a lesson, only to be undermined by Commercialism:

Student: Teacher, you told us that we can't express emotion or sentiment when we use the continuous tense.
Me: Yes that's true. For example, I can't say I'm prefering coffee. I'd have to say I prefer coffee.
Student: So why does McDonald's say "I'm loving it"?

Then there are times, when I just can't contain myself, and I end up laughing at them. I laugh. Out loud. At them. Much to their incredulity and bewilderment:

Me: Ok, Manuela, make a sentence using the word "stockings".
Manuela: I put my stockings in the computer.
Me: What is that?
Manuela: The stockings, I put the stockings, the numbers, in the computer.
Me: That is stock-taking. Stockings... panty-hose. Antonio, can you make a sentence using the words "contact lenses".
Antonio: Ok. I sign the contact lenses.
Me: That's a contract, you wear contact lenses.
Antonio: Si.

Suffice to say on most days, I feel like the worst teacher ever. It never lasts long though.


  1. Now if Life imitated Art- we'd have a gorgeous Frenchman called Danyaal trying his lines on you;)

    (orrrr. maybe you'd meet a nice revert whose surname is Brown! *sheepish look*
    ok, let me stop before I bury myself completely...
    Note to self: don't post past midnight.)

  2. that comic made me titter. shame on you for making a grown boy titter.

  3. was one of the classic shows :)

  4. I pity the French students, "hungry" and "angry" probably sound the same to them. Mind Your Language would never be shown in the UK today. Far too non-PC.

  5. Azra - That made me laugh my head off! You must have the patience of a saint! I used to have a French student and you're right, they can't say 'H' or 'TH' it used to drive me mad trying to get them to say it!

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  7. pserean
    If only life imitated art :) Incidentally, my great grandmother's name was Edith Brown.

    You're never too old to titter ;P

    Wish they'd replay it instead of all the other crap they love to replay on SABC and etv.

    Interesting that no one thought it offensive back in the day. The irony is that today everything is more PC but more people take offence or find reasons to be insulted.


    I really do laugh at them. So I'm not all that saintly. I find the patience because they're so eager to learn and their attempts makes my heart smile ;)

  8. Azra,

    you should just teach them "Frenglish" and be done with it :-)

    I love this book:


  9. I remember that show! Hehehe - had some good laughs.

    And the fact that you laugh at them at times made me laugh! I mean, how can you not?!

    I hope to read about many more adventures from your classroom.

  10. Hahahaha!! I have the same issue with my Spanish students when it comes to using "hungry" and "angry". I only teach Spanish students, so most of their mistakes are either very similar or exactly alike, which makes correcting them easier. I admire you for teaching students from all around the world!! It's no small feat. :)

  11. These are some of the precious things about being a teacher. And then there is the reward when the light comes on and they student 'gets it'.

    I'm very proud of you, Azra, for dedicating yourself to this. It's a high thing indeed.

  12. Oh man. Now I know how it must've felt to be my Arabic teacher trying to teach a bunch of Americans to properly pronounce the Arabic alphabet...impossible.

  13. Yeah, language mis-communications can be funny. Interesting story with Mandarin Chinese, which is a tonal language.

    "Can I ask you something?" and "Can I kiss you" are the same. The only difference is in the tone it is pronounced in! Getting lost might just lead to a good night out...

  14. Back when the universe was young I had a job verifying sales calls made by telemarketers. I would listen to the recorded supervisor verification and then either process the final sale, pend it for review, or cancel it. The number one reason for cancelling orders was the following:

    Supervisor: Alright Mr. ___ a charge totaling $59.95 will appear on your credit card within the next 10 days.

    Customer: I am not interesting.

    Supervisor: That's okay, Sir. It will not affect your purchase.

    Customer: No! No charging! I am NOT interesting!

  15. LCG
    Dean, I'm inclined to agree with you - I reckon Frenglish could give them the best of both worlds :)

    I could write a book. LOL. It's so ironic that it's a lot like those episodes of Mind your Language.

    Teaching such a diverse range of students is quite challenging especially when it comes to cultural sensitivity etc. But for the most part, it's fun!

    Thanks for the comps :)

    I can't imagine it was easy for you students either! I don't have problems with the Arabic Alphabet but my French is mock-worthy :)

    That is very interesting indeed! I wonder how many people have gotten lost then asked for directions only to find themselves on the receiving end of a slap instead lol

  16. Angie
    LOL! I've never heard anyone so self-deprecating before. We get it, you're not "interesting" LOL!

  17. That's funny... I always tell my students -ing adds emotion.... especially when you've been wait-ing for someone for hours on end to cook you a meal.... Do you know this scene: 'Am-bour-ger! Ambourger!' Tell your students to check it out next time they're um angry.