6 Awkward Mistakes By English Learners

English Teacher
Photograph By US Department Of Education//Flickr

As a teacher of English as a foreign language, you’ll probably be thrown in to a bunch of embarrassing situations, most of which will be more awkward for you than for your students. Often, the main thought going through your head will be, “do I carry on with the lesson, or laugh in this child’s face?”


1. “I come. He comes. I am coming.”

Ah, the verb “to come” is always a joy to teach. There aren’t many things more awkward than standing at the front of a class and saying: “Repeat after me. I am coming.” If you are a lover of awkwardness you can escalate it by eliciting: “She is coming, she comes, she came.” But don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning when the head teacher walks in as your class is enthusiastically chanting: “We are coming!”

2. “The teacher makes me love.”

Some students find it difficult to differentiate between the sounds “v” and “gh”. When you crack jokes as a teacher you’ll often have kids laughing and telling each other, “the teacher makes me love.” That’s not desirable when you want to make a good impression and they go home to tell their parents.

3. “I doed my homework.”

I’m sorry, you what? It’s made better if you are fortunate enough to teach a child with a stutter: “I do-doed my homework.” Oh yes, the many irregular verbs in the English language are difficult for a foreign learner to master which leads to confusion and joy as they try to say: “I ranned to school,” or “I buyed a sandwich.”

4. “I be Johnny.”

Is there a pirate in the class? This happens most frequently in Russia where the verb “to be” is omitted for the present tense, meaning that directly translated a Russian says: “I Johnny.” On first glance, that feels rather cave-manish but the language is fascinating because it’s full of altered endings rather than extra words. For an added bonus, before the student says the phrase correctly, see if you can run them through: “I is Johnny,” and “I are Johnny.”

5. “Why do you cry Willy, why Willy why?”

It’s an interesting exercise to teach students the “W” sound. Not an exercise I personally enjoy as a teacher, but it sure is tonnes of awkward as you patiently wait for the student to stumble his way through ‘willies’ and ‘whys’.

6. “When I go out, I like to have cock.”

Without any doubt, this is the best mistake a student could ever stutter. There are a few words in the English language which seem innocent until uttered with an accent; like ‘coke’.  Another of these great mispronunciations may lead to a child saying: “When I go on holiday, I like to sit on the bitch.”


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