Various mistakes, and the Mystery Student
I hope my last blog didn’t discourage you; when I said that your writing was improving well, I meant it very sincerely. All your hard work is certainly paying off.
In general, of course, students have to make mistakes in the process of learning English (or in the process of learning anything). Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes. The advanced students who I teach at the moment certainly make mistakes (I’ll say more about this later). Normally, we have to learn from our own mistakes. However, James, you have very bravely and generously agreed to be our student blogger – this means that you make your mistakes in public, and everyone has the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.
All this reminds me of a sketch by a comic called Peter Cook, who in my humble opinion was possibly the funniest human being in the entire history of the world. In this sketch, Cook played a failed restauranteur who was being interviewed on TV (if I remember rightly, his restaurant served only two dishes – frog ŗ la pÍche and pÍche ŗ la frog). After questioning Cook about his disastrous failure in the restaurant business, the interviewer finally asks him, “do you feel you've learnt from your mistakes?”
“Oh certainly,” replies Cook. “Certainly I have learned from my mistakes. And if I had to start all over again, I'm sure I could repeat them exactly!”
(I tried to find a link to a recording of this sketch, but I’m afraid I couldn’t. However, you can watch another classic Peter Cook sketch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2siVbVti9I - note that the raven is a kind of bird.)
Anyway, changing the subject, the weather has got a little more normal today, so my mood has improved. However, I’m a little worried today. I’m worried because one of the students from my ‘advanced’ class has apparently discovered this blog. He or she left a comment, but did not reveal his or her name, so let’s call him or her the Mystery Student. Hi there, Mystery Student! I’m not worried about the Mystery Student reading this blog; of course, I’m very happy for him or her to read and leave comments if he or she wants to. No, I’m not worried about that; I’m worried about something else. In his/her comment, the Mystery Student wrote this:
‘I have met my teacher, Alex, writing a blog in the BBC site. I'm one of her students in the Oxford House College…’
One of her students? I should explain that the Mystery Student sees me quite regularly, for about three hours a day, five days a week. I should also explain that my head is completely bald, my voice is deep, and I generally don’t wear makeup or a skirt while I’m teaching. However, this student apparently thinks I’m a woman. I don’t know if I should worry about the Mystery Student, or if I should worry about myself. But I’m certainly worried. What do you think I should do?
All the best,
The verb ‘to discourage’ is, very simply, the opposite of ‘to encourage’.
We normally use the phrasal verb ‘to pay off’ (no object) when we’re talking about some kind of work, or something which requires a lot of effort. If your work or effort pays off, that means it gives you the result which you hoped for.
The word sketch has a few different meanings; in this context, it means a short section of a comedy program on TV.
Comic is another word with more than one meaning. Here I’m using it as a synonym for ‘comedian’ – a person whose job is to make people laugh.
The adjective ‘humble’ is the opposite of ‘proud’. In emails and sms text mesages, the phrase in my humble opinion is sometimes abbreviated to ‘imho’.
Restauranteur is a word which we’ve borrowed from the French – it means a person who runs a restaurant. A lot of our ‘posh’ food vocabulary comes from French – ‘frog ŗ la pÍche’ and ‘pÍche ŗ la frog’ are jokes which mock this feature of English.
The word apparently causes quite a lot of problems. In fact, it means something like, ‘this seems to be true’, or, ‘someone has told me this is true’. The sentence, ‘this student apparently thinks I’m a woman,’ has the same meaning as this sentence: ‘this student seems to think I’m a woman.’
Finally, if someone is bald, they have no hair on their head. Baldness is a sign of intelligence, and it’s also very attractive to women.
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