Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Speak up!

Type: Anecdote

Marcia's advice to her students comes back to haunt her in this amusing anecdote.

While working with young college women in a coed university, I found I had to constantly encourage the women to speak up, as they appeared embarrassed to voice their opinions in English in front of their male counterparts. They called themselves 'shy' and spoke in soft hesitant voices, but outside the classroom they proved to be anything but shy. Tired of their excuses, I reminded them that shyness was often interpreted as weakness by English speakers, so they should try to speak loudly and clearly when giving their opinions.

At the start of class one day, I asked what the students thought about a recent event that had been in the news. One woman, whom I had repeatedly asked to speak up, moved her lips as if she were answering me, but no sound emerged. I asked her to repeat, since some of the men in class were still noisily getting settled. She again mimicked speech, but I could hear nothing. Frustrated, I admonished her for forcing me to ask a third time. She hesitated, then stated in a clear voice loud enough for all to hear,

'I’m sorry but your blouse is unbuttoned in the front!'

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