When I started teaching I never imagined that apart from being incredibly de-stressing and satisfying at an intellectual and emotional level, it would also be an amazing source of humour…the things I hear in class are worthy of being compiled and published in a book! Here’s a teaser:-
- J’ai emmené mes mères là-bas. (I took my mothers there) – My immediate reaction was “Really how many do you have?”
- Je suis une question. (I am a question.) – You can imagine the mirth that followed at this one! Ah bon, really? The student meant to say “J’ai une question” (I have a question.)
- J’étudie lingerie (I study lingerie.) – it took several minutes for all of us to calm down before I figured out that the student meant to say “J’étudie l’ingénierie.” (I am studying engineering.)
- Je suis mort l’année dernière. (I died last year.)- this came as a response on being asked to rearrange the given points and write a biography using the past tense. It seems we don’t know the difference between a biography and an autobiography. I couldn’t help adding another line, “Maintenant je suis phantôme” Now I’m a ghost!😉
- Souris! (Mouse!) – I’d just reprimanded a boy for talking too much in class and when he said this I did a double-take and was quite horrified. It turns out he was just trying to frenchify the word “Sorry” so instead of saying “Désolé” or simply “Pardon” he ended up called me a mouse!
- Talk about vain efforts to elucidate and illustrate without using English. The word in question was “incroyable” (incredible) and I decided to use an extremely unpunctual student as an example “ Ashwin est arrivé à l’heure? C’est incroyable!” A student’s immediate reaction – “Ah incroyable ça veut dire la fiction” (“Incroyable” means fiction!)
- Je reader des nouvelles, player de la guitare et talker with mes friendsa – this one was a classic case of Frenchifying English by converting all English verbs into the group of French verbs with the suffix –er. It shouldn’t be difficult to figure out what it means – here’s how it should have been said: Je lis des romans, joue de la guitare et parle avec mes amis.
- J’aime faire un serpent pour Noël. (I like to do a snake for Christmas) – I almost choked on hearing this one – what the student meant to say was J’aime décorer un sapin pour Noël. (I like to decorate the Christmas tree)
- Vous avez fait qui ce weekend? (Who did you do this weekend?) – to say that I was horrified with this question would be an understatement; luckily the student realized the faux-pas and immediately replaced “qui” with “quoi” so that the question became : “Vous avez fait quoi ce weekend?” (What did you do this weekend?)
And on that note, the most recent faux-pas that had not just me, but the entire class in splits :
- Est-ce qu’il y a une difference entre “se coucher” et “accoucher” (Is there a difference between “to go to bed” – also used when you to go bed with someone – and “to give birth.”) As the class broke out in peals of laughter and the student realized his faux pas, I couldn’t help but say “Oui, il faut se coucher avec quelqu’un pour accoucher.” (Yes, one must go to bed with someone in order to give birth.)