My Top 5 Funniest Moments of the ESL Classroom

Teaching English as a Second Language is a job in which I laugh every day. Whether it’s with younger kids learning how to answer “How are you?” or teenagers practicing their grammar; it’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Here are my top 5 ESL classroom moments from the past year – guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.


Lowered Self Esteem

As a foreigner in China, your students are going to notice the differences between your appearance and theirs. Whether it’s being told you have yellow hair, big eyes, or being called fat on a daily basis.
(pointing to stomach) “Teacher, what’s this?”, “Teacher is fat!”, “Big teacher!”
Thanks, kids.




Teaching teenagers is fun and challenging. My biggest challenge is getting my teenagers to write creatively without everyone dying. Honestly, it’s worse than a Game of Thrones wedding in there.
Writing a group story sentence by sentence:
“There are a lot of people in the Bank of China waiting to talk to the worker. They are all bored and hungry. Suddenly, a robber comes in with a gun and says “GIVE ME ALL THE MONEY OR I’LL SHOOT YOU!” A Mother with a baby says, “NO! I’LL SHOOT YOU FIRST!” The Robber is die. The Mother turns the gun on everyone else and says, “YOU GIVE ME THE MONEY NOW, OR I WILL SHOOT YOU TOO!” A policeman runs in and throws a bomb at her. And everyone is die.”

That escalated quickly.



Bathroom Mishaps

Sometimes you’ve just gotta go. In the classroom. On the floor. Fantastic, especially if you don’t have a Teaching Assistant.
And then another kid just has to stand up and tap dance in it, Singin’ in the Rain Style. Yep.



Word Mixups

Learning a new language is difficult. Especially for young kids who don’t realise their pronunciation means something totally different. “What are you wearing today, Jerry?” “I’m wearing a shit.”
No Jerry… you’re… wearing… a… SHIRT. (Trying desperately to stifle hysterical laughter).



What is that smell?!

About a quarter of the way through a two hour lesson in which the parents would watch the second half, I started to notice a strange and unpleasant smell. The kids started noticing it too. With the help of the Teaching Assistant, we pinpointed a particular child and asked him if he needed the bathroom. He said no. We sent him out to his Mother, who took him to be cleaned up.
He came back for the second half of the lesson, still stinking. The room had to be aired out for days.



DISCLAIMER: Not all of the above happened in my classroom. Some happened in my coworkers’ classrooms. Stay strong, ESL teachers!


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