English Teaching

Brief Encounters: Tales of Everyday Life

Columns | Vienna Review | December 2012 / January 2013

Learning a foreign language, nailing the pronunciation is often the most difficult. Teaching a foreign language, on the other hand, it’s keeping a straight face.

I should point out here that I make my own share of beginner’s mistakes. I once asked a confused grocer where I could buy a bunch of Tauben (pigeons), when I should’ve said Trauben (grapes).

As an English teacher, you quickly find out how hard it is to remember, which of the three pronunciations of "ed"-ending words to use.

Recently a student of mine asked: "Is it moved, or move-ed?" Before I could answer, his colleague jumped in.

"You idiot, it’s move-ed. Like the song. (singing) ‘I like to move-ed, move-ed. I like to move-ed, move-ed.’"

At this point, I had to stop the class for a lesson on the lyrical content of the mid-90s house-music duo Reel 2 Reel. Just another day in the classroom.

Nicholas K. Smith

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