Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: A practical attitude

Type: Anecdote

Here we have a couple of stories about students coming out with unexpected answers, by Joanna Plichta

We were having a repetition class a few days before a test. I had prepared a worksheet with a set of tasks similar to those planned for the test. One of them was drawing conclusions about the past using modals (can't have, must have, and so on). Among others, I prepared a cue, 'He was rich and handsome, but she didn't want to marry him'. I was expecting something like 'She must have been in love with another man' or 'She can't have loved him'. What I got instead, and quite promptly, from a very gentle and sweet 18-year-old girl was, 'She can't have been normal'!

Writing about the practical attitude reminds me of another story. I was practicing character adjectives with one of my one-to-one students (an 17 or 18-year-old girl). I gave her a sentence: 'If he found $100,000 in the street alone at night, he would bring it to the police station next day. He is very .........' (intending 'honest', of course). The girl wrote honest, but when I showed the sentence to another student, a boy about her age, he wrote 'stupid'. Then I showed it to my husband, who also opted for 'stupid'. Since that time I have shown it to various people and it seems to me the proportion between 'honest' and 'stupid' answers is about fifty-fifty (maybe 'honest' prevailing, but I'm afraid that's because a teacher is asking).

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