ESL students say the darndest things

Remember that 90’s show Kids Say the Darndest Things with Bill Cosby (pre-sex offender status)? Being an ESL teacher is kind of like that, but better because my students only sort of speak English.

They come up with the most ridiculous sentences and spellings, from ones that make me genuinely confused to ones that are so clever, I can’t help but laugh. Recently, I’ve gotten some that were too good not to share, so here are a few of my favorites!


A few weeks ago, I gave my M4 classes a worksheet to help them talk about their family members and friends. It included questions like “Do you have any siblings?,” “Where do they live?” and “What do they like to do on the weekends?” Here are some of the best responses:

I have a James. He like to smoke weed.

Teenagers are teenagers, no matter what country you’re in.

I have one fried. He lives in room 4/8.


I think this student was trying to say that their friend studied in M4 class 8 because “fried” isn’t a noun and there’s no such thing as “room 4/8.”

On the weekends, my father likes to cardiac arrest.


This is one of my faves, as it is both hilarious and strangely alarming. However, I think it’s safe to say we can blame this one on Google Translate.

With my M5 classes, I have periodically been doing dictation exercises, which involves me reading a paragraph and the students writing down what I say. This proved to be pretty difficult for many of them, but I got endless enjoyment (and some frustration) out of grading their hilarious mistakes.

The first one was about Father’s Day. It should have read, “Sarah’s dad likes to play sports and listen to music. Sarah wants to take him to the bowling alley. However, Sarah’s sister wants to take him to the concert hall.” But one of my students wrote this:

Sarah wants to take him to the blowing area. However, Sarah’s sister wants to take him to the consent hall.


Happy Father’s Day.

The next one was about Kate, who likes “going to the museum and the art gallery” and doesn’t intend to go to university because she wants to be an artist in the future. It included numerous vocabulary words and phrases we’ve been practicing all semester, but you would never have known that from what they turned in.

I want to be an organs.


Is that really what she thought I was saying?? Also please note the spelling of “museum” and “art gallery,” BOTH of which were vocabulary words I had written on the board a mere five minutes prior.

Speaking of spelling… between the 16 M5 classes I gave this dictation to, I got 50 different spellings of the word “art gallery” and 59 of the word “museum.”

I could not make this shit up, people.

Go ahead and give them a glance if you’re up for it. Some of them are really quite creative.

a-r-t  g-a-l-l-e-r-y

art gallery



If you got a kick out of this, check out my fellow farang teacher, Emily’s most recent post, where she catalogued the 128 different ways her students spelled “freckles.”


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