They say that it’s the many contradictions in the English language that make it so hard to learn, so imagine how difficult it must be to teach. Spare a thought for the literature lover who became a teacher to share their love of language, only to end up explaining apostrophes for the millionth time this week. Or, you could just wind them up a bit more... Here are five phrases that are guaranteed to irritate English teachers everywhere.
- “Wow, I've got a lot of marking to do!” Is that so? English teachers could fashion an entire set of classroom furniture out of the stacks of essays they mark each week. The in-depth character studies of Macbeth are enough to create a decent-sized desk on their own.
- “You'll know this, how do you spell…?” Let me guess, antidisestablishmentarianism? Not only can English teachers spell it, they also know its etymology and how to use it correctly in a sentence. But they won't waste their time telling you. They have marking to do.
- “I hated doing Shakespeare when I was at school.” As the great Bard himself once said, “There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.” So there.
- “I've only got 12 kids to see at parents’ evening” Thanks to being a core subject, English teachers have to see every single parent at parents' evening. That’s why there’s a queue of parents winding its way around everyone else’s desks. Should they get a spare five minutes to themselves, you'll find them at their desk... marking.
- “The only good poems are the ones that rhyme.” Sigh.
Chris Powell was talking to Nicola Davison. He is a professional mentor, head of year and geography teacher at Parmiter's School, Hertfordshire, England