Let’s indulge in a spot of ‘talking shop’; let’s face it, those among us who have been in the Business English trade for long enough will have built up a shortlist of ATTs. This is a newcomer to the collection of clever sounding but ultimately useless acronyms that get bandied around TEFL workshops from time to time. It stands for Annoying Trainee Traits & it comes a close second to well-known others such as TTT (a longer version of that bike race on the Isle of Mann), TL, SS, CLL (Community summat..), LBW, S&M and GBH.. if you get me drift..
So without further ado I’ll crack on to my personal Top 5…
1, The ‘OKer’
This blighter thinks he (usually a he), knows it all & generally gives the impression you’re wasting his valuable time by explaining mundane details. He makes a mistake and you attempt a correction and then you’re about to offer an explanation when he coughs up the inevitable ‘I know OK, OK, OK..’ Sure enough, next lesson he ventures the same old error but you’ve learnt your lesson whilst he hasn’t learnt anything, so it’s the classic lose/lose situation all over again (as the Americans probably don’t like to say).
2, Fish Mouthing
This invariably occurs during a phone lesson. Give the trainee their due here, they don’t realize their crime but it’s when you keeping opening your mouth to correct them only to have them carry on their monologue without seemingly needing to stop for a breath. Once they’ve hit the red light, you’ve forgotten everything you were going to say as well as feeling like a haddock. The experts would say you should go back here and recap, but I prefer to look ahead, and that’s a win-win surely as they think they’ve got it all right and you’re able to switch off for a few minutes.
3, Nothing Special
Tells you a lot about people when you ask them the classic ‘What did you do this weekend?’ opening gambit & they come up with the timeless French response ‘Nothing Special’. Prod them a little and they’ll maybe tell you that they went to a gay wedding, the dog saved the neighbour’s child from drowning in the river or they ran a marathon. But you can get them back when they ask you what you’ve got planned for the lesson.. just omit ‘special’.
4, They’re all waiting in the Room
Nowt wrong with that you might think, but it’s when you couldn’t even find the company, the security was up there with Maze Prison, Belfast, it had frozen and your car wouldn’t start, you’re late and the room was changed to everyone’s but your own knowledge and finally you rush through the door to find them all sat at the table with pens and pads out in hungry expectation. It’s when one of them looks at their watch in that slightly pompous manner that infers guilt upon you that you wish you’d put the baseball bat in the car..
5, The non-existant word
When half an hour of searching the the largest dictionary available has failed to deliver and every single suggestion you’ve sportingly offered to the trainee has been rejected as not being quite good enough, not sufficiently distinct from the French word or just doesn’t satisfy their tastes, then you’re forced to concede defeat. This is swiftly followed by either a glow of smug pride in French being proved the richer language or a complete refusal to let it lie and precious time frittered away in the pursuit of futility. I like to call this the ‘Pappillon Effect’ as over the Christmas period they just won’t accept ‘Chocolates’ as being precise enough a word to describe those, well chocolates wrapped up in shiny silver and gold paper with wings on.
I’d like to see some of them in an Yorkshire Garden Centre trying to purchase a spade. I reckon the odds on a number of my nit-pickers arguing that the item in front of them was a shovel would be reasonably high.
So we’ve come to the end of my little training session. I propose you don’t print out this document & put it away in your TEFL file with all the reams of paper you’ve collected up over the years, never to see the light of day again..