My Most Embarrassing Moment

There was an air of anticipation and awkward silence in the class as I walked in to give
my first lesson. 7 or 8 students were seated around an expensive wooden table and I
walked to the front of the class and opened the course book to page one.
The private academy I was teaching in had its own material which consisted of thick
teaching books containing a script that the teacher read from. The idea was that the
teacher read something, modeled the language and pronunciation and then asked the
students a question. The students answer the question and then repeat several times.
Naturally, the books we used were divided into levels, the vocabulary, grammar and
questions got harder as the level got higher. This was quite an effective methodology
for lower level students and beginners, but it was mind-numbingly boring for more
advanced students.
This particular day I stood in front of my class of pure beginners, I smiled, opened the
beginner’s book to page one, held up my pencil for all to see, and began.
“This is a pencil”
“This is a pencil”
“What is it?”
“It’s a pencil.” Repeat, “It’s a pencil.”
All the students repeated the sentence with perfect pronunciation. Now came the
moment of truth. I turned to the most intelligent looking student on my left and asked
him the same question I had asked all the class just a few seconds before.
“What is it?” – Nothing! Just a blank stare.
“What is it?” I smiled wider and spoke louder. Surely this guy can’t be that stupid!
“What is it?” – a note of desperation crept into my voice.
We looked at each other for what seemed like hours until he finally said,
“Well, it looks pretty much like a pencil to me, so I suppose it must be a pencil.
Don’t you think?”
My mouth dropped open as I realized what had happened.
“I’m sorry”, I stammered, “I’ve got the wrong book here. You’re clearly all advanced
students. I’ll be back in a minute with the correct book.
I closed the book and quickly left the class to bring the correct book. My face was as a
red as a beetroot.

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