Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: How clever illustrations can help in class

Type: Anecdote

David Riley's anecdote highlights the importance of appropriate drawing skills.

This didn't happen to me - it happened to a friend of mine. He's now a well-known course book author, so I won't mention his name. Let's call him Dave. 

Dave was teaching an all-female class of secretaries in a company in Paris. The lesson was about travel vocabulary, and, undeterred by his lack of artistic ability, he’d decided to start with a board drawing. Dashing off the first few lines, he turned to the students and asked ‘What’s this?’ – trying to get them involved right from the beginning. Seeing rather odd expressions on their faces he turned back to the board and suddenly realised his drawing could be misinterpreted. It looked something like this:


Red-faced he hastily finished the drawing, adding the wings and announcing ‘It’s an aeroplane’ before anyone had the opportunity to suggest something else.


Dave’s next lesson with the same class started with a pronunciation classic: the ship or sheep minimal pair. He was going to start with a board drawing, again, but this time he decided to finish the drawing before seeking any student involvement. So he carefully, if not very expertly, drew a sheep on the board.

‘So, what’s this?’ he asked, turning confidently from the board. In the brief silence which followed, one student whispered to another, ‘Je suppose que c’est un avion.’ (I suppose it's a plane).

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