Thursday, December 4, 2014

[Teach Abroad Blog Carnival] Crack a smile with some ESL student drawings

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL-related article on my blog at the start of every month, and the carnival is always published on the 5th by that month's host. Check back for more articles, and if you'd like to contribute to next month's Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at, and he will let you know how you can start participating.

This month's host is Samantha Baker of Samantha in Saigon, which is where you can read all of this month's entries.

Prompt: What were the most endearing/hilarious English mistakes your students have made?

Reach to Teach Blog Carnival: Student ESL Mistakes

So, I have to be upfront: You're not going to find any stories about hilarious English mistakes in this post. But you might still crack a smile.

Why don't I have any such stories?

Here's the scoop: I laughed a lot while teaching English at my elementary school in South Korea. Much, much more than when I taught English in Spain to students who were my age at the time and older (22+).

But most of my laughter in Korea wasn't at English mistakes, but rather the everyday goofiness of young kids.

It also had to do with knowing my students and their personalities. If I described some of the scenes I actually do remember, it probably wouldn't be as funny to you.

Like the time when a young third grader, this really animated boy—always one of the best dancers, asked my co-teacher how to say something (they were talking to each other in Korean). She thought for a minute and told him in English "earthquake." And then he proceeded to shake his desk (while sitting at it) dramatically, shaking his whole body with it up and down while yelling "Ahhhhhh! Earthquake!! Ahhhhh!"


It probably doesn't sound too funny, but if you were there and had seen it... this kid is hilarious.

Another reason why I don't have this type of story to share is because my memory is crap when it comes to exact quotes. If I don't write it down, I won't remember the funny thing that someone said. (Side note: This is why my Differential Equations notes from college are splattered with quotes from our professor; she said really hilarious things and I wanted to get more than one laugh out of it).

I'm certain there probably were funny English mistakes, either verbal or written, during all of my time spent teaching English. But do I remember? Nope. This is why my friends must just groan when I try to recall something funny that happened, even if it's just a day earlier, or a quote from a TV show or comedian. "Oh my gosh, I couldn't stop laughing. Well, he said something along the lines of... No wait, it was something like..." I've always been impressed with my guy friends who could watch a "Family Guy" episode once and be spewing perfect quotes from the episode anytime from that day forward.

"So why even write this post?!" some of you may be wondering with frustration. Well, because Samantha—the host of this month's blog carnival—brilliantly suggested we share photos of any funny written mistakes that we might have.

Due to the nature of my classes in Korea and the students' lower levels (anything written was almost always an exercise in their textbooks that the kids keep with them, or it was a project where they had certain set phrases to use, so nothing funny came up), I only took pictures of anything written three times that year.

So I'll share them here, even though if you laugh at all, it won't be from English mistakes, but rather from drawings or the English content itself.

We'll start with some Thanksgiving turkeys, since the holiday took place just last week here in the states.

Thanksgiving Turkeys by My Korean 5th/6th Graders

I had an after school class of fifth and sixth graders that I taught by myself last fall, so I had them make turkeys with their hands when I taught them about Thanksgiving.

After seeing the emphasis on money in two different students (friends, clearly), I had to wonder if I thought money was so cool when I was that age.

I do remember this "Death note" (above) being some sort of an issue during class. Another kid tried to tell on him, and then the drawer covered it up with his hands or something when I tried to look...

My Family

This next set of drawings were from my after school second graders, early on last fall before I really knew them (and certainly before I had any idea how to control them!)

Real Madrid Pamphlet

And finally, I'll close with a sixth grader's project that I took pictures of because of how awesome it was. I was impressed because it was for one of those class projects I mentioned earlier—with a strict template to follow—but he actually used creativity and imagination to make it unique. Plus it has to do with Madrid, so win-win:

^^ He wouldn't believe me when I said there weren't two i's in "Madrid"! 

 I love the spelling of Barcelona: "Barusailrona"

Well, did anyone crack a smile?

For more laughs (or your first), be sure to check out the rest of the carnival posts!
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  1. I enjoyed this post! I know just what you mean about students' personalities making anecdotes funnier. I can imagine a tiny hyperactive kid yelling "EARTHQUAKE!" with a big grin on his face.

    I like to think my coworker's Ban Ki-moon story is hilarious no matter what, but the humour is definitely heightened when one knows the teacher and kids involved. I can just picture those students' minds whirring as they thought of new ways to hint at my coworker being in a homosexual relationship with Ban Ki-moon. Ha! :D

    1. Thanks Holly! Yeah, that funny story seemed like it would have made class time much more enjoyable and entertaining for your co-worker!

  2. That multi-headed turkey hand made me literally LOL for QUITE a while.