Breaking the ice!

 

Being a lecturer at a famous London College, I used to teach English to students from countries throughout the world.

 

Each session began with a new class of about 18 students. Of course, the new students had never met each other.

 

To start the class, and to break the ice, I would tell them a little about myself, trying to add a little humour.

 

And as I was fairly good at guessing nationalities from people's accents, I told them I would go round the class, very briefly chat with each student and then guess that person's nationality. Of course I was quite often wrong and after feedback the result could be hilarious (and just occasionally slightly embarrassing!).

 

I recall that in one new class there were two young ladies who looked very similar to each other and who looked Japanese. They asked me, "What about us?"

 

I replied "Firstly, I think you're twins." They looked surprised but replied that I was perfectly correct, and then they giggled and asked: "... and where are we from?"

 

I answered: "That's easy. You're obviously Brazilian!" At this there was a roar of laughter from the rest of the class - but the girls looked dumbfounded!

 

"How did you know?" they asked.

"Well," I said, "your looks are definitely Japanese - but your accent is definitely Brazilian!"

 

From that moment on, I had the class eating out of my hand!

 

Footnote: I wrote this a number of years ago: The world has changed since then and most countries now have residents from various countries.

Also, nowadays there are strict guidelines and I doubt if my approach would work or be acceptable!

 

And it might even result in a ticking-off  - or worse - by the Head of Department!