There are several things that can ruin an English teacher’s day, but one of the worst is when the awesome lesson you’d so carefully planned is somehow derailed and you have to make up something on the spot.

The school has a cabinet full of extra worksheets that can be grabbed in a pinch, but sometimes this isn’t an option, and here’s why:

One of my most dedicated students – we’ll call him “Fulano” – has class with me 4 days a week. English is a struggle for him, but he always does his homework and is definitely making progress.

However, he’s a little absentminded and sometimes forgets his glasses – and this is a major problem. I’m nearsighted, so if I forget my glasses, I can still read (I just can’t see the board at a distance).

But Fulano is farsighted – meaning printed text is a blur unless it’s in at least size 20 font.

That means working with the book is not an option, nor are any of the worksheets – it has to be a conversation class. If he was a higher-level student, it’d be easy – but he’s pre-intermediate, so conversation can be like pulling teeth.

On Monday, I walked into the room and he greeted me with, “Hello teacher! I forget my glass!”


Just what I needed on a Monday morning, I thought. We began talking. I asked him about his current projects his home life, and an upcoming trip. I asked about past experiences. I made him tell stories. I asked for more details. I asked “Why?” every time he stated an opinion.

Fulano did his best to maintain the conversation, but after 30 minutes I was out of ideas. What should I do? I thought. I can’t put on a movie, it’s above his level. We could play a few rounds of hangman on the board… but not for an hour straight. HELP!!!

Then I noticed something…

“Fulano,” I said, “What’s that in your shirt pocket?”

He looked down and exclaimed, “Oh! My glass!!!”

I’m not sure if it’s a FAIL that neither of us noticed the glasses in his shirt pocket for a solid half hour…

…or a WIN because it saved the class.

What do you think?

  • Definitely a WIN! It takes a lot of skill to maintain a conversation with an intermediate-level English speaker for a half hour. Even if he hadn’t found his glass, I bet you could’ve improvised something else.

    I’m still laughing at the “my glass,” which is what my husband says too. I wonder why that extra “es” sound is so confusing?

    • Shayna

      Maybe there are too many “S”s at the end of the word, so the “e” gets lost and they all mush together into glasss?

  • Funny! Since he had told you that he had forgotten his glasses, you would have not be cued to see if they were either (1) in his pocket, or (2) on top of his head. I vote for a “WIN.”

  • Cecilia Butcher