Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Bear, bare, beer

Type: Anecdote

The perils of pronunciation cause much mirth for some of Gail Mair's students

The task in hand for a class of upper-intermediate students preparing for BEC Vantage was to organise the launch of a new product. They would then present their product, the venue for the launch, the date and time of the event, and some details of the event programme to the rest of the class.

When all the preparation was done the students settled down for the presentations.

One group had decided to launch a new type of jelly-bear sweet, but they were having trouble with the pronunciation of 'bear' and kept calling the sweets 'beers', which I corrected and let them repeat. This didn't seem to be particularly fruitful as they continued to make the same mistake.

The presentation continued - the venue was to be the local zoo, Saturday morning, at 10 a.m. in front of the bears (more pronunciation difficulties) enclosure etc.etc. But by this time they were getting rather fed up with having their pronunciation corrected all the time (if not by me, by their fellow students) and were looking forward to the highlight of the launch and finishing their presentation.

The lot fell to a rather large middle-aged lady in the group; she took a step forward and proclaimed: For the highlight of our launch we will give a bear (with emphasis) performance. And this time she got the pronunciation right!

I have never had much control over my facial muscles, so when I'd recovered enough to explain, we all had a good laugh and the students will always remember the 'bare performance'.

From Germany

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