Thursday, 8 December 2011

Story 5 - I Write on the Whiteboard

I write on the whiteboard:

One day…

“What am I doing?” I say, ignoring the groans from some of the students.

Predictably Leo is the first to shout, “YOU ARE WRITING!!”

“Don’t shout Leo,” I say, moving over to the side of the board to award his team two points. Immediately there are calls of,

“You are standing!” “You are saying,” (Not saying Tim, talking) “You are eating,” “You are drinking,” “You are playing basketball!”

“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” I shout, turning to face the class. “Be quiet!”

“BE QUIET!” shouts Leo.

“Maisy, one more time,” I say, watching her confused face, hoping she’ll repeat her sentence to help make my point.

Maisy is quiet however and looks like she is going to cry all of a sudden.

“Am I playing basketball?” I say, adjusting my voice to that of a more kindly tone, still to no response, so moving my attention to the whole group I decide to repeat the question again.

“Am I playing basketball?”


“Great Leo, now everybody, one more time.”

“No you aren’t you are talking!!”

“Three times.”


“Am I eating?”


“Am I playing football?”


“Am I killing a mosquito?”


“Okay,” I say, wondering if I should really be making this point. It is a board story I’m trying to achieve after all. Should we play a quick present continuous game? They all know the structure well enough; maybe later.

Tim has suddenly jumped up and is miming killing a mosquito, waving his ruler around, then Nick and Isaac start doing the same – I come out with the usual, “5…4…3…2…1,” and they quickly return to their seats.

“Anyway, one day,” I say, looking around at the eight students in front of me. Leo is bouncing up and down on his chair with his hand up, Nicole is asleep. Ella is looking annoyed at Nick, who is sitting nicely hoping I’ll pick him first. Maisy is playing with her pencil case and it’s difficult to tell if she’s listening or not… Tim is playing with himself but has his hand up and is a least paying attention. Isaac is pulling faces at Sunny who is miles away thinking about God knows what…

“Nick?” I say, suckered in by his obsequious posture.

“One day a pig go to a Seven Eleven and drink garbage juice,” says Nick enthusiastically.

“I go, you go, he, she…?

“Goes,” say Nick and Leo together.”

“Good.” I write the sentence on the board while at the same time my thoughts start to whirl: Are the other students listening? Shall I drill the point? No, I’ll have time for this later. Oh no, not another garbage juice story! Never mind, it can be good to have similar themes. They are re-using the language. Who’s next? Shall I roll a dice and pick randomly? Will that take too long?

Leo still has his hand up and is starting to groan, “Me teacher, pleeeeease meee!”

“Okay Leo.”


“And eats cockroaches? Errgghh!!” the class are laughing now. I’ve got their attention. Who is next? I make eye-contact with Sunny. “Sunny?”

Pause. Silence.

I’m not getting anything here. What’s wrong? She’s usually all right at this.

Her silence is continuing and the kids are fidgeting. I think of an idea and begin to mime being sick. Sunny’s expression brightens up, but Leo has beaten her to it, shouting, “AND HE IS SICK!”

“Good Sunny,” I say sarcastically (although I know it is lost on her).

I write the sentence on the whiteboard and turn back to Leo, Maisy, Nicole and Isaac.

“Another student from team A?”

Maisy’s hand is suddenly up.

“Okay Maisy.”

“And he eat he sick.”

The class is laughing now. I think about correcting her but I don’t want to spoil the atmosphere so I simply write up her sentence correctly on the whiteboard. Then I read the story so far to the class, feigning a confused expression in my voice:

One day a pig goes to a Seven Eleven and drinks garbage juice. And he eats cockroaches. And he is sick. And he eats his sick.

I look at what we have so far and decide to replace the “Ands” with “Thens” before turning to Sunny, Ella, Nick and Tim. “Who’s next team B?”

Tim and Ella are left. Ella is frowning at me, giving off a moody look of, “What the hell do want me to say?” Do I pick her last or get it out the way now?

Tim is suddenly shouting, “And the pig go home and watch TV and eat dinner and go to bed!”

Followed by Leo who comes out with, “AND DIES... THE END!”

“Wait a minute Leo, not yet!”

I write on the board: After that the pig goes home. At home he…

I turn to team A again. “Nicole?”

Wind is blowing. Tumbleweeds roll by. Tim really looks as though he’s going to piss himself, Ella is now whispering in her own language to Maisy…

“English only Ella!”

“Sorry teacher.”


Still nothing… Do I help? How long shall I wait? If I help will she be happy to be let off the hook or will I be destroying her confidence?

“And eats he mother!” says Maisy out of the blue.

The students laugh. I watch Nicole, “Yes or no?” I say, still trying to work out if she is uncomfortable, shy, or just confused.

The other students are chanting now: “Yes, yes, yes, yes!!”

Nicole says, “Yes,” and I write the sentence up on the board: eats his mother, and while the class is laughing a sudden piece of inspiration causes me to add: And he is sick again.

“AND HE DIES!” says Leo.

“Wait a minute Leo!”

“Sorry teacher.”

“Ella, are you ready?”

Nick is whispering to Ella, “And he eats his sick.”

The whole class hears and then they are all at once whispering the same thing in chorus: “And he eats his sick, and he eats his sick.”

“And he eats his sick,” says Ella.

Then he eats his sick, I write.

Okay Isaac,” I say. “Are you ready?

“And he see he father and he eat he father and he is sick again,” says Isaac.

“And he eats his sick,” says Tim.

“AND HE DIES,” says Leo.

I write on the whiteboard: the pig’s father comes into the room and says, “What are you doing?” The pig says…

I turn to the class. “And the pig says?”

“I AM EATING,” says Leo.

“Eating what?” I say.

“EATING MY SICK,” says Leo.

“Eating your sick?” I say.

All the students are laughing now as I continue: I am eating my sick. The father is…

“Angry,” says Tim. Angry I write.

“And he hit him,” says Nick. Man is that what their fathers do? I think. Should I be writing this? Oh why not?

I write: so he hits him and then egged on by the class I continue with: so he eats his father.

“And he is sad,” says Maisy.

“And he is happy, “says Tim.

“Because he can eat his sick,” says Leo.

“And he dies,” says Isaac.

And he is sad. But then he is happy because he can eat his sick, I write, finishing off the story (because there is no more space on the whiteboard) with but then he dies.

The class is ready now. The story is finished. They are restless and warmed up. Although maybe a bit too energetic: they are already beginning to read the story aloud. I might need a quick running around game after this to wear them out.

“Okay be quiet,” I say, while making a couple of changes to our now completed whiteboard story. “Are you ready?”


As I come out with the usual, “All right then, after me,” I take a mental picture of our creation, wondering what it’s all about… who’s ideas most of it came from… and how strange it is that I’m standing here doing this.

The students repeat after me:

One day a pig goes to a Seven Eleven and drinks garbage juice. He sees some cockroaches so he eats them too. But then he is sick. He eats his sick. After that the pig goes home. At home he eats his mother and is sick again. Then he eats his sick a second time. The pig’s father comes into the room and says, “What are you doing?” The pig says, “I am eating my sick.” The father is angry so he hits him. So he eats his father. The pig is sad. But he is happy too because he can eat his sick. But finally he dies.

The End


  1. LOL Sounds like a fun ESL class.

  2. Good fun story. I may just give this crowd a call when my muse gets lazy. :)

  3. OK, here's the 20,000-word question: did this really happen? :-D If so, I guess it goes to show a certain kind of humor is universal to kids of a certain age!

  4. Universal indeed. Cartoon humour and toilet humour. They love it.