Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: The ultimate ice-breaker

Type: Anecdote

A bag-related incided breaks the ice with Catherine Richards Golini's students.

A few years ago I worked in London, teaching in-company at various Japanese organisations.

One evening, on the 13th floor of a tower block in the centre of London, I had my first class with the finance director of a well-known Japanese electronics manufacturer. He was very nervous and not at all convinced that I was the teacher he had been promised. I was busy taking off my coat, chatting, unpacking my bag and attempting to break the ice with smiles and friendly noises. All the while my student observed me, sometimes nodding in confirmation to a question, but otherwise unresponsive and unforthcoming. With a final flurry I plunged my hand into my bag and grabbed the tape recorder - and with it came the ultimate ice-breaker. A pair of my pants, packed for a night with a friend, flew into the air and shot across the boardroom, coming to rest alongside the horrified student. Though his eyes told me he had seen everything, I reacted in time-honoured fashion - by acting as if nothing had happened. After casually plucking my undies off the floor, and shoving them into my pocket, I cleared my throat, smiled and began the class...

'So, tell me a little about yourself.'

Not only did I keep the student but he turned out to be one of my most favourite students and made great progress! One of the few Japanese men I have ever met who would make coffee for us himself - and not call on one of the office ladies to do it. Obviously he felt relaxed with me. :-)

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