Six weird and wonderful emails to Onestopenglish

It’s time for another guest list, and I’ve managed to get none other than the editors-in-chief  of the biggest resource sites for English teachers in the world to share something! Actually, this came up once in an article I wrote about Onestopenglish for a local newsletter in Canada. I asked them if they ever received any strange requests or emails. “If you only knew…” they told me. Well, now I do and so do you! Read on…



At onestopenglish we get hundreds of emails from teachers all over the world. There are entries for the Methodology and Lesson Share competitions, anecdotes, diaries and letters which we publish in the Magazine, as well as a vast number of questions about grammar, pronunciation and teaching.

We endeavour to answer as many of these as our small team can cope with. Many are published on the site. Some, for reasons which will become apparent, are unpublishable. Here are six of the best:

1. The Lesson Share to teach us all a thing or two

Imagine the source text most likely to lead to eye-watering embarrassment and widespread speechlessness among your students. Well, here’s a good idea: how about a reading comprehension on the Kama Sutra? Yes, we received a totally serious lesson plan detailing the tantric sex preferences of Sting, the history of the G-spot and suggestions for increasing the size of your penis. To the author (you know who you are), thank you. The lesson plan will be published on XXXstopenglish.

2. The (present) perfect Methodology Challenge

One teacher sent us a Methodology Challenge entry to help students unravel the sequence of tenses in English. The story starts simply enough, with Mr Past Tense who lives in the kingdom of Main Clause. However, by the time Prince Future in the Past, Duchess Present and Miss Present Perfect become involved, you’re wondering if you’ll ever find your way out of this nightmare grammar world! Thank you to Claudia, who assures us she has been bringing this fairytale world alive for her students for six years.

3. Interesting ESP requests

We get lots of interesting requests for English for Specific Purposes, some of which we’d love to commission if only we could find the specialist authors to write them. Among the best are: English for health and beauty, make up, manicures and massage (ESOL); English for Tibetan monks; or English for dental hygienists.

4. From the Forum

The onestopenglish Forum is a place where teachers can go to talk about their teaching, air their frustrations and offer advice to fellow teachers. It also provides an opportunity for users to tell us what they think about our content, and we were delighted to read this lovely comment about the onestopenglish soap opera, The Road Less Travelled, in the Forum:

My students in Japan are enjoying this series immensely. They are all adults and mostly very proper middle-aged Japanese ladies. They were shocked at the incident in the car park. We can’t wait for the continuation of the series.

It feels rather naughty to think that we’re providing high drama and scandal to these ladies in Japan!

5. When grammar questions go wrong

We receive a huge number of ‘Ask the experts’ questions from teachers with (sometimes very specific) grammar queries. Some of these leave us completely perplexed. Here are two favourites:

I’m a Communication Coach. However I’m having difficulty if this is correct. You’re very much welcome.

Could you tell me how to use and explain what the meaning of below sentence?

Having + someone + Present Perfect

Having me dumped unexpectedly on her for a while obviously caused logistical problems.

We just wouldn’t know where to start …

6. Our funniest ever anecdote

Every teacher has a funny/embarrassing story to tell and we really do receive some great anecdotes for our Teacher anecdotes competition. It was sent in by a business-English teacher in Paris who had used a clip from the Wallace and Gromit film, The Wrong Trousers, with his class. He’d prepared the room so that only one student could see the television and had to describe what was happening to the other students. We’ll let him take over the story from here …

It was all going really smoothly until we got to the part where Wallace is lying in bed, Gromit pulls a lever, the bed rises up, Wallace slides off the bed through a hole in the floor and into his mechanical trousers.

There’s a lot of describing to do here and my student had a really good stab at it, but said, “The dog pulls the man’s knob and he comes in his trousers”.

Thank you Kevin Faux; we couldn’t publish your anecdote but, rest assured, it had us rolling around for hours …

clairelucyClaire Pye and Lucy Williams, Onestopenglish Editorial Team

Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 3:36 pm  Comments (10)  
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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. 😉 I needed a laugh Lindsay, and you’ve given me one (and the Eds too), ta.

  2. Kevin Faux! You’re the man! I can’t stop laughing.

  3. Certainly made me smile – in fact, I almost spat coffee on my computer screen when I read the last one!
    I have to guiltily confess that assessment time at school often finds us teachers rolling around at the students’ funniest answers…

  4. Classic!

    Relieved to see none of the emails or lesson plans I’ve sent Claire Pye got in there!


  5. All done with the greatest affection, of course!

  6. Is there really a need for such lame smut on this site? I thought I was the only bloke who revelled in it!

  7. […] Six Weird and Wonderful Emails to Onestopenglish […]

  8. Well, that’s ruined Wallace and Gromit for me, for ever. Great ROFLing start to the day though…

  9. I was doing a Reading Comprehension exercises with 4th graders. The story – a party. The question “What did the children do at the party”. A child answered “Dance and Sin”.

    • LOL! What a great answer. Will remember that one.

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