5 things pupils ask that you wish they wouldn’t


Welcome to students say the darndest things or should I say any EFL class anywhere. It can be a hoot and a holler teaching them to an outright existential crisis causing nightmare. Here are some of the more humorous episodes that we’ve experienced, perhaps you can relate and add some more in the comments.

1.What page?

Well little Timmy if you look at the board it is there and I told the class several times and asked you about 5 seconds ago what the page number was. It is p53… no no not 23, 53. I’ll find it for you. And on the walk home you often think to yourself maybe I should have had it tattooed to my head before the class… YES that would’ve worked.

2. Are you married?/ How old are you?/ Have you got any children?

Old and young alike revel in the awkwardness of asking this question. I must admit there is never any bad intentions but trying to explain to 7 year olds why teacher no longer has a car and is struggling to pay the divorce laywer is not a gracious conversation topic. Sometimes bosses have even asked me whether I am married or have children or even better am I planning on having any…. Well errr when I am at peak ovulation I’ll let you know what I am thinking about doing….

3.Do you speak insert their language here?

The most innocent of questions that leads to non-stop harassment in said language and a refusal to use English because they know you understand them anyway. We’ve all been there or even accidentally let it slip that you might just know your ‘ser’ from ‘estar’ or your confusing greek spelling from that other confusing greek spelling but when it leads to imminent translations you’ll regret it.

4.What’s the thing you use that helps you put on your shoe? (vague explanations and oddly specific vocab requests)

The answer was shoe horn, and to this day I haven’t fully found out why they needed to know that word but they did… Have you ever forgotten a word or not been able to understand their vague explanation and then been told “I thought you were an English teacher” I have and I am under the impression that for a moment they mistook me for google.

5. What’s insert horrendously offensive swear word here in English?

Ok I get it, maybe going round in your language saying ‘Fuck’ left right and centre is all right but for the quaint English folk of England it’s not a good idea and you won’t get far. Then, of course, you get the funny ones that don’t really translate into English but are highly amusing to watch as your students call each other the most badly translated and meaningless English term because you told them that was the word they were looking for. Mwahah better luck next time!


Author: Teaching in Spain

Two teachers who like to write about travelling, and you guessed it, teaching. One of us is from England and one of us from Greece. If you like what we write then subscribe and enjoy!

6 thoughts on “5 things pupils ask that you wish they wouldn’t”

  1. Can we have class at the bar?I will buy you lunch!

    Why do I have to use a book?I have never used a book in the 10-30 years I have been studying English!

    I don´t want homework.(that´s more of a statement then a question..I know!)

    Can we we go jogging/rollerblading/frisby/yoga,etc and have a speaking class?(p.s. my body isn´t built for physical exertion) and I will pay you 40 euros an hour?(feel free to laugh at whichever part of this question shocks you the most!)

    Can you lie down on the carpet and play with my 1-year-old in English for an hour a week?I want him to become bilingual!

    These are at the top of my list..standby for the rest 1300 approx…my 4 years in spain have been like kinder bueno chocolate eggs..not a day goes by without a surprise question/demand..by students, parents aaand colleagues/directors.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d like to add:

    1. Certainly you have 1 hour free to do this extra lesson at 7:30am?
    2. When am I going to be fluent in English?
    3. Can I pay you next week?

    Liked by 1 person

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