Celebrate well-wishing


with the leek

It’s easy to get self-critical in/ after an English class where you (teacher) are a non-native English speaker and they (students) are active and hungry for learning as many words as possible on any topic that randomly emerges during classtime. One of my classes is exactly this type and you never know which vocabulary you’ll end up doing, the fact which I, in fact, enjoy 93% of the time. It’s been mentioned before that this teacher suffers from occasional memory blackouts in class in all kinds of situations. On sunny carefree days I, generously to myself, let these moments pass by without significantly rubbing off against my sensitive teacher skin. On another type of days, bleak and gloomy, the fact of “losing it” may backfire, and students’ reaction to my passing forgetfulness can become crucial. Reactions that don’t necessarily help my self-esteem are these:

– “You don’t know this word?”

–  “Ok, it doesn’t matter.”

–  rushing into opening dictionary apps

– sizing me up and looking with what looks like contempt *for a while longer*

Well today there were cards to revise vocabulary that came up last class and this student wanted to say she loves all kinds of pies. She started enumerating actual fillings: salmon, cabbage, meat, cheese, fish, лук-порей… I am racking my brains, I know it’s there, it must be, it was…. The other student opens Google but it takes time. This pie-loving student opens Google Translate app but it won’t load. Mine loads faster though and there it is, of course, the leek. I can’t explain why but this leek failure really upsets me in those fleeting 90 seconds that we struggle with getting the word, and so I mention it in passing, more like a remark to myself. The picture in my mind is a pot of shabu-shabu that I ate not once in Asia, and enjoyed so much. With lots of leek.

She smiles such a warm caring smile and says with genuine well-wishing, “It’s not a necessary word, it’s fine, don’t worry”.

A moment in class out of a million similar moments in hundreds of similar classes, I know. And I wouldn’t have devoted a whole blog post to it had this memory of a warm considerate student’s line not stayed with me for a few hours after the lesson, made me smile and appreciate the good attitude. I might forget the leek again, as well as may other necessary and unnecessary words. I want to celebrate the students’ well-wishing when it’s here and touching my heart.

Thank you to all students who care to be kind.


Thank you for reading!


8 thoughts on “Celebrate well-wishing

  1. springcait says:

    Oh, I really hate these moments, though I know it may happen and it happens to natives, I believe. At least it happens to me when I’m speaking my native language. But I still feel so awkward. Especially the ‘doesn’t matter’ situation.

    It’s great to have well-wishing students. I’ve heard a lot of awful stories of opposite cases.

    • annloseva says:

      Ironically (and unfortunately), the word blackouts happen to me much more often in Russian than in English… but I kind of don’t care much for those. I realize I’m tongue-tied in my native tongue.

      What are the awful stories you’ve heard? I’m really curious.

      • springcait says:

        The awful stories are mostly about those students who want to evidence your admitting you’ve failed to answer their questions. And they ask you some strange questions like “What’s (something you doubt you know what it means in Russian) in English?” If you happen to know the answer they open their google translate and check if you’re right and then argue if you were unlucky to say something different from what’s written there, though you may be right as well, you know, depending on the context. Fortunately, I’ve never had such students, but my colleagues have.

      • annloseva says:

        Oh I hear you. I still doubt they do it on purpose or with an ill meaning,that is at least when I’d like to believe.=)

  2. Marc says:

    As Springcait says, it happens to native speaking teachers too, sometimes to do with brain farts, sometimes because we rely on student explanation because our skills in our students’ L1 aren’t up to the task.

    I wonder if leeks are problematic across languages. A leek has also given me problems before.

    It does annoy you though, when you know you know a word but can’t remember it and need to use a dictionary.

    • annloseva says:

      Oh it so does annoy!! In any language, you’re right. I’m not so often bothered, but some days it happens too often so I start getting self-concious.

      Thank you for support and the comment!

  3. Sandy Millin says:

    This has happened to me so many times! I have a compete mental block and can’t remember a word. Often I find that Wikipedia or a Google image search gets me there faster than a translation app, and I end up working with the student(s) to figure it out. It can be a good learning opportunity for them. Perhaps you could encourage them to paraphrase more in those situations, as the teacher-dictionary won’t always be there to help them 🙂

    • annloseva says:

      I love using Google images for word search and word illustration! We do that a lot in that particular class by the way, as computer is near and it’s super convenient. I wish many classes were like it. Paraphrasing – YES, sure. It most often works, but the leek…)) you know, I feel there are certain words which you just wish you could name. Like bread, or rice, or similar…=))

      Thanks a lot for the comment and ideas, Sandy!

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