Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Erotic

Type: Anecdote

Hazel Slinn gets deceived by a cheeky student.

Some years ago I was teaching a group of mixed nationality young adults, which included Japanese, Middle Eastern and European students. Although advanced level, some of the Japanese still had difficulties with l/r sounds. But one, whom I thought had been educated in the States, never seemed to make that mistake.

Our activity involved listening to music and writing down adjectives to describe it. Various wonderful words were being gathered on the board, when the smart Japanese guy popped up with 'elotic', mispronouncing both the /r/ and the first vowel sound as /e/ instead of /i/. I paused and wondered if he actually meant erotic, or if he might be searching for an entirely different word. I stopped and decided I should check before committing myself to potentially complicated discussions. He repeated the word, so I decided to play safe and asked him to spell it for me. Sure enough, up popped the word e-r-o-t-i-c. I wrote it up and corrected the vowel sound, ignoring the r/l problem as that did not really contribute to the misunderstanding of the word. With a definite twinkle in his eye the student repeated the word, adding, 'We Japanese students have problems with l and r sounds.' Before I could reply that the problem had not been with this sound he added, 'Could you show me exactly where to put my tongue?' His expression confirmed that in no way can Japanese people be said to be inscrutable!

  • Share

Powered by Webstructure.NET

Access denied popup