Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Cuddly students

Type: Anecdote

I was giving a lesson on 'describing people' with a class of Elementary adults. I got them all to draw an amusing picture of a person with particular characteristics. Then they swapped and described each other's pictures aloud. They learned lots of new adjectives which I wrote on the board. I took the opportunity to explain the difference between calling someone 'slim' or 'skinny' for example and then we did some other exercises.

At end the lesson for a bit of fun I said we would play a game. I asked students to write a description of someone in the classroom and then they would take turns reading their descriptions and the others were to guess who they were talking about. "Of course we'll keep it very polite," I said. I gave them a few minutes to write their descriptions and then picked out a new girl who seemed particularly animated by the exercise to read out what she'd written. She began, "This person has brown eyes, this person has short hair...this person is FAT."

A particularly heavy middle-aged woman murmured, "Oh,that's me." Horrified, I avoided eye contact with her and I gently explained to the new girl who was grinning broadly that we don't usually use the word ' fat' to describe someone while in their presence. It might be perceived as rude. The large woman was mumbling that it was O.K. and that she wasn't offended. I avoided looking at her and I announced that there was a really nice word we could use instead, and gave them the word, "cuddly." I explained the verb ' to cuddle' and its meaning.

Everybody was beaming and seemed thrilled with this new word...

Moving swiftly on, I asked another student for his description, "Well," he began, "This person has brown hair, he has a moustache.. and he is a little bit cuddly...."

"Hey," roared the chap opposite him, "I'm not cuddly! not cuddly! a few kilos too heavy but I'm not cuddly! Not at all cuddly!" He seemed extremely upset by the remark; and his outburst rather defeated my objective.

I think I'll have to drop that little game from my repertoire.

From Switzerland

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