This week I launched my new ebook, The Top 85 Mistakes Brazilians Make In English. So during my time in São Paulo, I’ve taught the English language to a lot of students and I soon realised that the same mistakes were being made by them over and over again. That’s when I hit upon the idea of compiling a list of the most frequent mistakes made in my classes, which is where the idea for the book came from.
However, whilst writing a thought occurred to me. Many of my students don’t just share some of the same linguistic errors, but there are also number who will repeat the same phrases or behaviours in response to having English classes too. So allow me to go all Buzz-Feeds and give you a run down on just five of these types of students below!
Do you recognise any of these students in yourselves/ your classes?
Disclaimer: I should point out that this post should not be taken too seriously!
1. The Suspicious Student
“Are you SURE people say the phrase like this in English, Andrew? Really? It just sounds so….strange!”
At this point you might want to remind your Suspicious Student that, yes, this sentence structure might sound strange to them….but to you, a native English speaker, it is the most natural thing in the world! And then you can guarantee the following words will come rolling off their tongues, words an English teacher can expect to hear on a daily basis.
“But in Portuguese we say it like this!”
This is the point that I’d advise an English teacher to smile sweetly, develop instant amnesia and resist saying “it doesn’t matter how the sentence is said in Portuguese, it is still said differently in English!!!”
The Emotional Student
They’ve had an awful day at work. Sandra from HR has been an absolute bitch to them and on top of it all, their husband is away on business and there isn’t going to be ANY dinner ready when they get home. Who better to turn to at the end of their crappy day and tell all of this to than….their English teacher!
I absolutely LOVE these students! As soon as their problems come cascading out of their mouths you can put that that boring grammar exercise back inside your folder. Instead, you’re going to spend some of your class consoling your student and/or giving them advice.
Yes, as an English teacher in Brazil you may find yourself unexpectedly taking on the role of psychologist!
I’ve been asked for advice on a variety of things, ranging from relationships (this student clearly didn’t realise that when it comes to being in a relationship, I am the Susan Boyle of the English teaching world!), where to invest in a holiday home (I have never owned a house in my life!) and even on raising children (like…seriously!).
The Student Who BADLY Wanted An American Teacher
“And how do they say this in American English?”
Sometimes being a native speaker isn’t enough for some students, especially students like Thiago from Accounts (obviously I’ve made him up as an example!) who regularly talks to someone in the New York office. Naturally, he wants to know what random words and pronunciations are in American English and he delights in pointing this out to you. You, the British teacher, with your strange accent and overly formal expressions! I’ve been told this type of student studies in some of my American friend’s classes too, asking, “but how do you say this in British English?”
Sometimes I just don’t know how they say certain expressions in the offices in New York, and admitting this is sometimes met with a knowing look from students like Thiago…who you know is thinking, ‘I just want you to know, I wanted an American teacher but we couldn’t find one! If I’d really wanted your quaint version of the English language, I’d have just downloaded a Harry Potter MOVIE!’
The Gossipy Student
“Andrew, you were out in Cine Joia last Saturday night, weren’t you? Yes…my friend Michelle saw you there!” (Judging look)
As soon as you hear these words, your blood begins to run cold and you turn a light shade of pink. Not only do you have no idea who Michelle is, or why she would have recognised you in the club; but last Saturday night was one of those nights you would rather forget. The night you overindulged in the beer and partied like Ke$ha (post-teeth brushing with Jack Daniels). The night you thought you could forget all about; but clearly not. Why? Because Michelle was out too!
The worst thing is, you KNOW that if Michelle has already told your student what she saw, the chances are the student has already told the rest of your class EXACTLY what you were doing too.
With this in mind, you start to wonder if you’re going to be teaching this class much longer!
The Student Who Tries To Communicate With Telepathy
“I went to restaurant at the weekend and it was really…ah, wait! What’s the word?”
When your student stops speaking to look hypnotically into your eyes, you might feel that they’re trying to extract this word from somewhere deep within you.
“Well did you enjoy it?” you ask hopefully.
“So how about the word ‘enjoyable?”
“No, it’s not that! I need a word to describe the restaurant”
“And what type of restaurant did you go to?”
“So how about ‘traditional?’”
Before you know it, your class has turned into a game of charades.
“The word begins with the letter ‘a’”
Usually, around this point your student will give up, sigh and say (pretty unconvincingly). “It doesn’t matter teacher. I’ll just look it up when I get home!”
Of course, 9 times out of 10 your student won’t be doing this, so you’ll never know exactly how they felt about that little Italian restaurant. But then later, long after you’ve finished your class, you worry that a thought will corkscrew itself into their minds, “why didn’t teacher know the word I was looking for? I gave him enough clues. As a native English speaker, surely he should have known!”
Do you recognise yourself in any of the students I described in this post? Are you a teacher here who has taught any students like these!?! Let me know!
The Top 85 Mistakes Brazilians Make In English
As well as containing tips and explanations on how to avoid making common mistakes, it also dares to go where the more traditional books don’t. As a result you can expect to read about things Brazilians say that are likely to make a native English speaker laugh; those common mistakes that are either going to sound sexual, could embarrass the person you’re talking to or are likely to just sound very, very funny!
If your English is of an upper intermediate/advanced level and you are interested in knowing the mistakes your English teacher hears on a daily basis (or those embarrassing mistakes you definitely don’t want to be making in meetings with your international colleagues!) The Top 85 Mistakes Brazilians Make in English is the book for you!
To get your copy from Amazon, click here.