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.

Saturday, 15 October 2011


Continuing my occasional series on Great TEFL Wasters, allow me to cast my mind back to Jason, a typically chirpy Londoner I met whilst teaching in Italy. As with most London lads, he fancied himself as a bit of a player, with just fashionably long curly hair and a cocky patter that veritably flowed off the tongue. He was unique in that, during the whole time I knew him, I only ever heard him employ one adjective for a myriad of situations - the brilliantly versatile "unnatural".

When I once pointed out a rather fetching female to him in a nightclub, he whined, "Cor, strike me, that's unnatural, innit?" Another time, I invited him to stop in a bar for a coffee, to which he responded, "Coffee? Nah, I don't drink coffee, mate, it's unnatural, innit, coffee?" His profuse perspiration I'd noted on a not particularly hot day was explained away with, "Yeah, I've always sweated a lot, it's unnatural, innit?" And so it went on.

Unnatural was applied to express size, degree, likes and dislikes, surprise... you name it, it was unnatural in some way. I thought it brilliant - unnaturally so, perhaps. There was an economy in his technique I found truly compelling. Apparently, so did his students, who followed his lead and could be heard describing the rain not as torrential, or heavy, but "unnatural-uh".

One day I met him at the school, and he was looking very sorry for himself. He'd just broken up with his Italian girlfriend. He didn't go into details, but I've often wondered whether he hadn't suggested they do something "unnatural" in the bedroom. Or summat.

I think this may well be his twin brother...

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