Six times you know you’re an English teacher when…

Englishteacherhelp

A(nother) moment of light relief here at Six Things. You know you’re an English teacher when…

1 You spend an inordinate amount of time cutting up bits of paper (yes, even in this technological day and age I’m convinced most English teachers still spend lots of time cutting things up… I still do and I’m pretty into tech)

2 You feel like exploding when you hear someone say ‘It must be great to have those long holidays’* (especially if you are in the private sector and probably don’t get paid holidays!)

3 You find yourself wishing sometimes you taught something else.

4 You can’t think of a name for your own child because they all remind you of someone you’ve taught.*

5 You have accumulated vast amounts of trivial knowledge from your coursebooks.

6 You start to think that sentences like “What means X, teacher?” actually sound almost correct .

* Credit where credit is due, I adapted numbers 2 and 4 from a great book called 100 essential lists for teachers by Duncan Grey.

Now, I’m sure you can come up with wittier and more clever ways of finishing the sentence: “You know you’re an English teacher when…”; why not add one in the comment box below? Go on, you know you want to!

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Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 9:17 am  Comments (64)  
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  1. You know you’re an English teacher when you look forward to receiving junk mail, because it’s a useful source of authentic materials 😉

    • So true!

      I’ve used more than one mailer for a reaction paper assignment!

  2. You know you’re an English teacher (and you’ve met another one) when the first words out of your mouths are:
    “Hello. How are you?”
    “Fine. thanks, and you?”
    “Fine, thanks.”

  3. You know you’re an English teacher when you can’t listen to a pop song without noting the examples of the second conditional (or going to, or the past continuous etc) embedded in it.

    • I caught myself doing this the other day…. but I punched myself in the face and never took it to class. Way to suck the life out of a good song, dude!!

  4. You know you’re an English teacher when you use the alibi game to find out if your kids are telling you the truth.

  5. You know you’re a (female) English teacher (in Japan) when you are usually ignored by Japanese men until they have drunk so much beer at nomihodai (drink as much as you want) they approach you to ‘skill up’ their English but can, by that point, speak neither English or Japanese!

  6. You know you’re an English teacher when you are constantly irritated by the fact that, in movies, actors portraying non-native speakers either speak perfect but heavily accented English, or speak a mixture that ranges from utter pidgin to the most sophisticated use of the third conditional and phrasal verbs.

  7. Adapted from Mr. Thornbury’s post: You know you’re an English teacher when you (as an American) are irritated by UK actors trying to pull off an American accent on coursebook CDs.

    • In my experience, most American accents on coursebook CDs are done by American actors. The problem is that there are typically only about 12 – 15 actors making a CD, and only 1 (or 2)Americans, and they are asked to do a range of North American accents … beyond their competence.

  8. Thanks everyone so far for your contributions. So true… so true…

  9. You know you’re an English teacher when you find yourself shouting at the television “Floating to the bottom of the sea?? Things SINK to the bottom and FLOAT to the top, you fool” – as I rather embarrasingly did a couple of weeks ago….

  10. You know you’re an English teacher when you have an irrepressible urge to organise people into pairs or small groups at parties

  11. You know your an English teacher when you have a conversation with a native speaker, but occasionally stop yourself and wonder ‘do they understand me? Am I talking above their level?’ also the heavy use of gestures for every action you are talking about.

  12. You know you’re an English teacher when you use terms like liaison, inversion, self-access, interference, contractions, passive, tense, and demonstrative, in ways that baffle your non-English-teaching friends.

    • You have the bit between the teeth! Great stuff… I’d add that you know you’re an English teacher when you use words like PET, First, ELF in ways that nobody else understands.

  13. Tried something similar a while ago, as improved on by EFL Geek here:

    http://eflgeek.com/index.php/eflgeek/comments/youve-been-in-tefl-too-long-when/

    • Not the first time you’ve beaten me to a good idea… nice one Alex! I hadn’t seen it before. Cool to know that you had created a “meme” though…

      L

      • “Not the first time you’ve beaten me to a good idea”

        Aha, so you admit you stole the idea for Global from me! You and your team of lawyers will be seeing me, my battered briefcase and my slightly manic look in the TEFL Court of Human Rights (motto: If you’d wanted any, you should’ve stayed at home) very soon!

      • We can settle this out of court Alex, your book was called “Earthly” anyway. My team of lawyers are off towards your place now to make you an offer you just can’t refuse.

  14. You know you are an English teacher when you collect all the brochures, magazines, tickets you find when you go to an English speaking country, although you have hundreds of them at home:-)

    • so true Burcu, so true!!!! and you even train your friends who go abroad to do the same for you.

  15. You know you is formative a d’ English when your students have the testicles d’ to use Babel Fish

    • translation software has given me more postmodern lit than I could have ever hoped for when I was an art student!

  16. You know your an English teacher when you no longer struggle to understand what non-native speakers are saying regardless of word choice, sentence structure or accent because it (to you) it sounds like perfectly normal speech.

    *This, of course, baffles your friends who stand back and stare (in awe) of this marvelous talent you have.

  17. You know you’re an English teacher when every time you say a number, you hold up that number of fingers.

    • …and when, referring to something that happened yesterday, you gesture with your thumb, backwards over your shoulder.

  18. You know you’re an English teacher (in Japan) when you go to a conference and all the men have their trousers pulled up slightly too high, which invariably makes them slightly too short…

    • Do you mean the trousers, or the wearers?

      As my grandmother used to say “He looks as though his trousers have been arguing with his socks”

  19. You know you’re an English teacher when you’re the only one who celebrates Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s day et. in the staffroom.
    You know you’re an English teacher when you refuse to interact too much during a night-out with your friends and some foreigners, otherwise your friends will ask “Sorry, do you feel as if you were working now?!”
    You know you’re an English teacher when your friends start to call you, text you, IM you at random times for help with the present perfect tense.
    You know you’re an English teacher when you enter a room saying “Good morning everybody, sit down please!”
    Gosh, I could go on forever 😀 Great post Lindsay, thanks!

  20. Hi Lindsay!

    I wanted to contribute but had too many things to say 🙂

    Managed to sum it up and create my own post titled:
    You know you are a teacher of Young Learners if…

    http://anita-kwiatkowska.blogspot.com/2009/11/you-know-you-are-teacher-of-young.html

    Six things kept me laughing the whole day! 🙂 Will be back for more!

    Anita

  21. You know you’re an English teacher when you have to constantly stop yourself correcting the poor souls you come across in your normal day to day life when they make a mistake in English!

  22. You know you’re an English Teacher when you don’t know if you were walking into, or out of, the classroom.

  23. You know you’re an English teacher when you can’t wait to get your hands on the in-flight magazine.

  24. You know you’re an English teacher when you overhear a “natural” conversation in a shop while waiting in a queue. You rush to school and you immediately type the dialogue up, put it on the OHP and use it for your “Colloquial English” session as a warmer!! You ask the students to translate the following “real” English dialogue.

    Eg
    A Got change for a fiver, mate?
    B Sorry mate, no can do!
    A Ere ya go then. Two quid.
    B Ta!
    A No probs mate. Cheers!

    This actually happened and I have had a lot of mileage out of these few phrases over the years!

  25. You know you are a non-native English speaking teacher when you can’t utter the simplest, shortest thing in English without listening to yourself as if you were a student of yours (or ‘yourself’ – I wonder which one is correct ;)?! ).

  26. You know you’re an English teacher when you want to shout to yet another speaker: “Have you still not learned the difference between economic and economical”?

  27. You know you’re an English teacher when you know what’s happened on “How I Met Your Mother,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Big Bang Theory,” “Dr. House,” “The Office,” and “24” all thanks to your students.

  28. You know you are an English teacher when you buy DVDs with English subtitles even though you know you wouldn’t have to watch them with your class.And while watching the movies you stop the scene and say to the students ‘did you catch what he said?’

  29. You know you are an English teacher when you look at the title of this blog post and think ‘Shouldn’t that be “Six times when you know you are an English teacher….”‘

    • Very clever Darren… you got me there! I’ll have to start paying you an editorial fee. 🙂

  30. You know you’re an English teacher when…
    you pick up a newspaper and read a news item and start changing the end or imagining the characters in the event e.g. today when my someone told me about the hunt for the French security guard my first thought,was SIX great classroom activities.

  31. You know you’re an English teacher when you
    *spell check people’s blog posts and let the writer know about the grammar errors
    *speak constantly with your hands
    *get excited by every new word tool and gadget
    *can say, “Hello!” in at least 3 different languages
    *use dogme, collocation, and English as a Lingua Franca in conversation
    *subscribe to the word of the day or other vocabulary enhancing site
    *sleep with a language theory book by your bed
    *laugh when people speak in idioms
    *send your friends idiom videos because you think they are funny

    You know you’re a Twittering English teacher when you edit the grammar in your tweets!

  32. You know you’re an English teacher when you get angry with your English speaking friends’ grammar and spelling mistakes in their facebook updates!

  33. You know you’re an English teacher when your pupils tell you should have been a PE,a drama or a music teacher.

  34. You know you’re an English teacher when you have a good command of the interlanguage your students use (neither English nor L1), and even you yourself use it when you are in a rush.

  35. follow-up to Damian and Shelly:
    You know you’re an English teacher when you use “loud” body language and speak more slowly and pointedly than your family and (non-teacher) friends.

  36. You know you’re an English teacher when you are unaware that most of your party pieces come from various coursebooks quite until someone embarrasses you by saying “yeah, I’ve heard that one before… It’s in Unit 2 in that green book by whatshisname…”

  37. Your best jokes are all bssed on word play.
    For example,
    Why do we call Saturday and Sunday strong days?
    Because they are not weekdays.

    Even worse is when your students come into class and start telling you these jokes and they assume you will think it is funny because “you are an English teacher”

  38. You know you’re an English teacher (in Germany) when you feel like Lady Macbeth after grading a set of tests (Fehlerquotient): Blood on your hands…

  39. You no longer snigger (and in fact barely notice), when in a cafe role play, a student asks for “A cock and a piece of cack”

    • I couldn’t stop laughing uncontrollably after this one ))

  40. You know you’re an English teacher when you still champion the use of the semi-colon. Or maybe that’s ‘You know you’re an Editor when …’?!

  41. Re point 5:

    Question 1:(for 1 eurocent)

    In which EFL book do we find out that London is less friendly than Paris, New York and Rome (no peeking at the bookshelf!)

  42. You know you are an English teacher when you think in Portuguese (my native language) but only feel comfortable with yourself by saying it in English.

  43. You know you are an English (or any other language) teacher, when you can’t sit in a class and learn another language because you think that your teacher is doing everything wrong and there are 6 other ways to make a lesson way cooler.

  44. 1)….when you wake up and ask yourself calmly:

    ‘Am I still in Poland/Russia/Japan (substitute your adopted home)?’ then scream ‘AARRGGGGGHHHH!!!’

    2) You pride yourself on being a relative expert on the variety of booze available in your adopted country.

    3) sometimes when students are working hard in class you lose yourself in aimless reverie…anyone seen ‘Stranger Than Fiction’? – “sometimes I do hear a deep and endless ocean!”

    4) you wake up and find you’ve been sleeping on a paper clip. Your washing machine is also full of paperclips.

    5) you relish the ‘quiet moments’ involved in your job, photocopying, listening activities, tests.

    6) you think life would be so much easier if you ‘just had your OWN photocopier!’

    • Hilarious! Totally agree with number 6 – even though Scott Thornbury and other Dogme people would “tut tut” at that!

  45. …you come up with great ideas such as:

    “Let’s have a disco, but only with songs from coursebooks!It’ll be great!’

  46. You know you are an English teacher (for beginners and in a foreign country) when during the preparation for class you translate conceptual formations just to make sure that in case nobody understands you in English you can give it a shot in their native language.

    And life WOULD be so much easier with my own photocopier!

  47. You know you’re a teacher when for your birthday you receive a lamintor and actually get excited.

  48. You know you’re a teacher when for your birthday you receive a laminator and actually get excited.

    • Or a guillotine!

    • …and this is exactly what happened to me!


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