Notes from the TEFL Graveyard

Wistful reflections, petty glories.

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Location: The House of Usher, Brazil

I'm a flailing TEFL teacher who entered the profession over a decade ago to kill some time whilst I tried to find out what I really wanted to do. I like trying to write comedy (I once got to the semi-finals of a BBC Talent competition, ironically writing a sitcom based on TEFL), whilst trying to conquer genetically inherited procrastination... I am now based in Brazil, where I live with my wife and two chins.

Friday, 19 February 2010

...N, O, P, ARSEHOLE, R, S...

Few of my bumbling disciples know the alphabet in English, I'll wager, but, like me, few will realise the true importance of it until they are guiding an incoming Airbus A380 onto the wrong runway at Congonhas, or, as was my case, being prematurely diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome during an occupational medical.

I'd noticed the factory nurse sniggering to herself, and thought it downright unethical, given my limited language skills and piss poor pronunciation of Portuguese. Stoic as always, I soldiered on through the eye test. "Pay (P), say (C), shiss (X)..." I dutifully reeled off as the letters diminished in size and visibility, but there it was again, the little smirk, the way she turned away from me and stifled a cackle.

Seeking enlightenment, when I arrived home, I summoned Show to my antechamber and sought her advice on how to pronounce the letter "Q". "Kay," she stated flatly, "like K in English." Therein lay the rub. Vague memories of my four-year degree in Italian wafting into my overexcited memory, I had inadvertantly used the Italian pronunciation "coo", which, by happy coincidence, means "arsehole" in Portuguese.

Which was quite apt really, because the nurse was an arsehole for laughing. And she looked a bit Italian. Innit?

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