Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Coffeepotting

Type: Anecdote

Becky Sparks shares a winning anecdote on mischievous students in Italy.

I was newly qualified and teaching in the North of Italy. The school that I was working for had assigned me a regular class at a local ceramics company and I had started to build up a good rapport with the students after overcoming the initial intimidation involved in facing a boardroom full of Italian Alpha males. 

A few weeks into the course and it was all going quite well. The students were particularly enthusiastic when it came to role-plays and competitive activities so I tried to integrate as many of these as possible. 

Another teacher introduced me to the game ‘Coffeepot’ which involves a student choosing a verb and then the rest of the class asking them questions to try and find out what the verb is. Since they don’t know the verb, the other students must replace it with ‘to coffeepot’ in their questions e.g. Do I ‘coffeepot’ outside? Do I ‘coffeepot’ in the swimming pool? 

This game is clearly more appropriate for young learners and teenagers but when left with ten minutes or so to fill at the end of one of my classes with these businessmen, for some inane reason I decided to throw in a little coffeepotting. 

After a few rounds, when everyone had clearly grasped the concept and seemed keen to continue, one particularly mischievous student volunteered to think of the verb. After a few standard questions, the class weren’t getting any closer so I asked the student to provide a clue. 'Well, I coffeepot in the bedroom every day,' he said with a twinkle in his eye. 'Sleep,' came the immediate response. 'No,' he replied with a bit of a devious smile. A couple of the other students obviously caught on and quickly asked 'Do you coffeepot with your wife?' followed by an affirmative and then, 'Would you like to coffeepot with the teacher?' He smiled and proudly announced, 'Yes, the verb is to make sex.' Needless to say, that was the end of my coffeepotting with male-dominated classes.

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