Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Viagra Falls

Type: Anecdote

A story by Claire Hudson on the importance of learning the basics.

Last year I was teaching an all-male class of post-beginners with slightly unrealistic academic aspirations. I liked the students but wasn't keen on teaching them because they were in such a rush to get on to more advanced grammar and vocabulary that they didn't pay attention to basics. Progress was slow.

One morning, after fielding a lot of questions about the present perfect I finally taught them how to make simple 'Have you ever..?' questions with short answers.

One of the students, a religious, middle-aged Saudi man asked me: 'Have you ever been to Canada?'

'Yes, I have,' I replied.

'Oh really?' he said, sounding genuinely interested. 'Have you ever been to Viagra Falls?'

'No, I haven't,' I answered tentatively.

An awkward silence followed, both of us sensing there was something wrong with the question but not realizing what. It took a few seconds...then we blushed, then how we laughed!!!

Recently, one of his classmates, also Saudi, emailed me and asked if I wanted anything from his country, as he was returning. I don't teach them any more but if I had my time all over again, I'd definitely make them work a bit harder with basic spelling!

  • Share

Powered by Webstructure.NET

Access denied popup