We recently asked for your participation in the Answers section, in order to share some of the funniest teaching experiences from people living and teaching in China, because we know that there must be some amazing misunderstandings or mistranslations out there. Here are the answers, in no particular order, which we thought were the funniest. Thank you to everybody who shared! [Editor’s Note: Unfortunately we were not able to transfer the amazing emoticons].
Photo: Tauno Tohk
I'm not a teacher, but I was once persuaded to give an English lesson… in a bar. A few years back I was chilling out in a downtown Guangzhou bar. Just a quiet Saturday afternoon, sitting alone with a pint and reading the news on my phone.
"Hey Scots", the bar manager said. "Our regular English teacher can't come today. Can you give the English lesson to all the bar staff today?"
Me: " Erm no, I am not a teacher and... erm... my version of English is not one you will understand"
"No problem", she said. "Just sit at the table and talk about whisky for an hour"
"Nahh…" I replied, insisting in the negative.
"We will give you free beer for the night", she persuasively suggested.
So. I spent an hour, talking in a Scottish accent, to an audience of about 20 young female bar staff. And I know a lot about whisky so I could easily have spent four hours going through their selection of bottles. As it was, I only had time to pick a few of the better ones to sample and describe. My lecture was deemed a success, and I retired to my seat at the bar as many hands clapped.
"Free beer?" I winked.
"Of course", they nodded.
My lecture finished at 6:00 pm. By 10:30pm they were a bit worried that I was still sitting at the bar drinking the free beer.
My wife phoned me.... "Hey Scots, don't be late home tonight." She moaned at me.
"I am getting free beer", I explained.
"Stay as long as you can then", she rejoiced. My wife is very Cantonese you see.
So I stayed till the beer pumps were switched off and the doors were being locked. And as I stumbled out of the bar at 3:00 am, I remember thinking that they would never again ask me to give another English lesson with the offer of free beer. And they never did.
Well, one day when running home from fetching necessities for the wife since she was pregnant and tired, I tripped on my untied shoelaces and landed flat on my knees. The skin (and some flesh) was scraped off by the incredibly abrasive driveway, and blood was pouring down my legs. I managed to limp from the driveway, to the apartment walkway, up eight flights of stairs, and into our apartment while leaving a trail of blood and sweat.
My wife took me to the hospital and they refused to treat me unless I brought cash. They didn't even have an ATM! So I just hopped in a taxi and went to a 24-hour pharmacy. Everyone was arguing with me to take some Traditional Chinese Medicine. They gave me some powder to help with clotting. It was later discovered that this powder is carcinogenic. I refused to take it. Instead, I bought some bandages, gauze, etc., and performed a little first aid on myself. Two or three weeks later, it finally healed! There was this purple layer of skin over it. Finally, right?! Yay!
Well, I was teaching Kindergarten, and as you all know, kindergarten teachers are white monkeys. I squatted on my legs and hopped around like a rabbit. The kids were laughing so hard. Then, I stood up and hopped while shouting the letter "V”. If they pronounced it correctly (the majority of them were saying "wee"), I'd hop like a bunny again. They really wanted me to hop again! I went from the first kid to the last, and refused to move until each kid pronounced "v" correctly. When they pronounced it correctly, I'd squat hop to the next kid and ask him or her to pronounce the word. Finally, when they all finished pronouncing it correctly, I kept my promise. I got in a squatting position in the middle of the room and began hopping like crazy. The kids were laughing so hard! I felt like a bunny. The assistants said that I'm a bunny, and to shout, "Bunny!" Now, those who have met me on this forum know that I have massive leg muscles... from all these years of being fat and walking around, etc. My legs can move my body pretty well. Since I had lost around 100lbs, I was able to jump and hop much higher.
The final hop did me in. I jumped too high, missed the hop (leg went back to hop while mid-air), and landed on my knees. On the squeaky clean floor. You know the kind of squeak that gives you a death grip? My fresh purple patch of skin on my knee was RIPPED clean off, along with a little additional knee skin. I was bleeding all over the place, and it hurt like hell. The assistants were shocked, looking at me in horror, but the kids were laughing harder than they had ever laughed before. Their laugh was infectious, and I couldn't help but laugh and groan at the same time, as blood oozed out of my knee wound. They immediately brought the school nurse, and gave me lots of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which actually helped stop the bleeding for a bit. First they applied anti-septic to the wound, then some brown TCM powder (maybe it was powered tiger testicles? I don't know), and finally, the bandage. Turns out it was that carcinogenic powder I mentioned earlier. Lovely.
Last year I had a class of imaginative and creative students – it was great. One discussion involved the students coming up with hypothetical solutions to different scenarios, some serious, some not so serious: "What if...........?" They were great in pushing the questions to their limits. I posed the question: "What if there was no electricity?"
After the usual answers such as: “there would be traffic chaos” and “cooking would be more difficult”, one guy said: "there would be a dramatic increase in population."
I asked as the day's speaking intro topic "What did you do on your holidays?"
One young (16-17), innocent-ish girl answered, "None of my friends had returned home, so I just stayed at home and played with myself". Given that she was looking to go to a US university, and I thought it best to nip that answer in the bud. Trust me – she will NEVER make that mistake again, nor will anyone else in the rest of that class.
When I used to teach, I asked a student: "So what did you do when you woke up this morning?"
Student: "I washed my socks with my face."
We were playing a game of Taboo, there was a list of words you couldn’t say, but had to describe the given word so they could guess. This time the word was "baby" and I started. “So a man and a women love each other very much…”
"FINGERING" a lady in her mid-20s shouted. To which I burst out laughing.
I moved on, and about a minute later I saw her asking a classmate what was so funny; "guys give a finger ring for marriage, I don’t get it," while she motioned putting a ring on the ring finger.
Teaching Assistant: "Say 'thank you, teacher'."
3-year-old girl: "F*ck you, teacher."
Most endearing. Insult. Ever.
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Keywords: teaching experiences in China funniest teaching stories in China
I was teaching a multicultural group in Vancouver and one of them was a guy from Brazil. One day he marched into class and asked "Why haircuts so expensive for Brazilians in Canada?" I said, "Yeah haircuts are usually $10-$20 for guys but that's for everyone. He replied, "But I go to haircut place and on window it say....Brazilians $35!!!!.....Why Canadians only pay $10 and Brazilians have to pay more?" After laughing to tears I said...."You heard that Canadians are very polite right? "Yes" "Well, I'm going to pay for your first haircut."
My kids love using the electronic dictionaries for their writing assignments. But, they do not really know how to use the words that they find. On one assignment, they were writing about the different ways boys and girls communicate to one another. Instead of using the word "interact", they found a word that said "intercourse". It was interesting to ask them to look up that word in their dictionaries and see how much of a difference one word makes in a sentence. Another time, we were playing the TV game show $100,000 pyramid. When the word for "cow" came up, the boy made a hand gesture that was supposed to simulate a person milking a cow. But, he used one hand and the hand movements was quickly recognized as masturbating. In the same game, a boy had the word "underwear". He pulled open his the top of his gym pants and pointed downward. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing so hard. There was a show on TV years ago called something like "kids say the silliest things". Yep...they sure do.
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