You’ve got to be a teacher to get it

I’ve always heard, even from my teachers, that teachers are crazy people, especially English teachers. If we look at it carefully, we may see why. Here’s a list that you are more than welcome to add to. What is it that only English teachers do? Only English teachers…

Photo on Flickr by Denise Carbonell
  • Say COME – CAME – COME and expect to be understood.
  • Correct people when they say “It’s me” instead of “It’s I” and don’t understand why people can’t get it right.
  • Keep spelling words to people when they say they haven’t understood a word you’ve just said.
  • Constantly ask people to discuss in pairs or in groups something that needs no comments on. (“Oh, yes, Steve Jobs has passed away. Talk to your partner about it!”).
  • Ask people to use the subjunctive and expect them to really know what that is.
  • Find it annoying when people ask “Who are you looking at?” instead of using whom.
  • Watch movies and pay closer attention to the chunks and expressions used than to the plot or the action.
  • Laugh out loud in the movie theatre in the saddest part of the movie due to horrible subtitles.
  • Tell people that they are using a plosive instead of a fricative and don’t understand why they can’t get it right!
  • Tell his or her students that what matters is communication, but keep pestering them for using the simple past instead of the present perfect.
  • Find it normal to ask someone to touch their upper teeth with their lips.
  • Don’t understand why is it that people don’t know names of book authors as well as they know who soap opera stars are.
  • Find it interesting to discuss about family, the environment, relationships, celebrities, museums, and places you’ve been to every semester.
  • Watch all videos on YouTube with their lessons in mind, and not to unwind.
  • Know 458 different way to put students in pairs but end up always using the same technique.
  • Expect students to use sophisticated vocabulary and structures every time they say something. It’s obvious that you should always say “a bewildering array of options” instead of “lots of options” – anyone knows that!
  • Feel that they’re being assessed every time they open their mouth to use English.
  • Tell students that it’s OK to make mistakes, that everyone makes mistakes, but cannot sleep at night because they sent a text message that wrote “I already did that” instead of “I’ve already done that”.
  • Spend hours online trying to find the next big thing that will get your students to study English outside the classroom.
And finally, only teachers know what it’s like to…
  • leave all troubles behind you when you close the door of your classroom.
  • be able to help someone really learn something.
  • treasure each and every student for who they are and what they can accomplish, and by no other standard.
  • share someone’s happiness for passing a difficult exam.
  • make a real difference in people’s lives.
A happy belated teachers’ day to each and every one reader of this blog. This humble teacher/blogger hopes that one day we, teachers, are valued by all wonderful and crazy things that we do. 🙂

43 thoughts on “You’ve got to be a teacher to get it

    1. Hi David!

      Feedback to everyone and mouthing corrections do seem to be things we do subconsciously, huh?! Gotta find the time to Skype with you soon. Hope to be able to do so in the next couple of weeks.

  1. only English teachers hitchike backwards when talking in the past
    only English teachers pull their earlobes when using the third person single present simple
    only english teachers continually ask, “Am I talking too fast?”
    only English teachers and Emnglish langaug learners know about phrasal verbs – or so many English speakers have told me.

    Nice one Rick!

    1. Hi Candy,

      Loved the one with the backwards hitchhiking! “Am I talking too fast” and “Did you understand?” are also high on the list. 🙂

      Thanks for adding these to the list! 🙂

  2. Only English teachers compulsively read new books looking for new classroom material.

    My mom was an english teacher and devoured a couple books a week. She’d occasionally hand one to young (or not so young) Ryan to see if it was useable for teenagers. I read a lot of good books that way.

    1. Oh… books, newspapers, magazines… it seems we have been trained to avoid reading for pleasure. We’re always looking for something that can be used in class. 🙂

      At least your mum’s habit was good for you, huh?! 🙂

  3. Great list of peculiarities belonging to teachers of English. I’d add:

    – Reading in a loud voice (even when not teaching);
    – Overuse of body language;


    1. Hi Marisa,

      Yes, reading out loud seems to be another funny thing we do. And the body language bit couldn’t be any truer. 🙂

      Thanks for adding to the list!! 🙂

    1. Hi Ceci!!

      Tell me about it…. I’ve lost count how often I stopped watching TV after that guy from Warner said “Outsourced”… LOL 🙂

    1. Hi Marisa,

      So nice to see you here! Feel free to play with it, Marisa! I really liked your idea and I’m looking forward to the collaboration! 🙂

  4. it’s so nice Rick.. Only english teacher can say the words BAG-BEG-BACK in correct pronounciation and find it annoying when people say ,”I must to go” instead of ,”I must go” ^_^

  5. Rick, I just loved the post=)))
    laughed out loud at ” ask people to discuss something that needs no comments on” – it hits the bull’s eye=))) and I’ve noticed that yes, I find it normal to ask someone to touch their upper teeth with their lips, or make “w” energetic by exaggerating lip articulation)) aha, it must look weird from the outside indeed
    re: Find it interesting to discuss about family, the environment, relationships, celebrities, museums, and places you’ve been to every semester!) But somehow YES, it IS interesting and new every new term!)))


    Cheers from Moscow,

    1. Hi Anna,

      I guess the reason why we enjoy talking about the same topics over and over again is simply because we always do so with different people! That certainly makes a big difference! 🙂

      Many thanks for your visit! 🙂

  6. Lovely post! I think this one is possibly my favourite…
    “Tell his or her students that what matters is communication, but keep pestering them for using the simple past instead of the present perfect.”

  7. Very interesting points for a language teacher. I hope these suggestions would help for students and teachers from developing countries.
    thank you very much Henrik.

  8. Only English teachers pretend to be (almost) deaf when students use L1 in class!

    great post! I find it awesome when we use humour as a way to be reflective teachers!!

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