Funny mistakes in English – teaching in Germany
Kristi Fuoco


A classroom at a German language school. Photo by Kristi Fuoco.
Classrooms - the place where the laughter happens.


One of the best parts of teaching English in Germany for me really has to be the funny mistakes my students make. I have laughed so hard I’ve had tears streaming down my face on numerous occasions. And don’t worry, I laugh WITH my students, not AT them (I was teaching some students today just how important this distinction is). Most of the time. I always remind them that I make just as many mistakes in German (like when I told my German teacher that I cook my TV instead of “watch” it) and that with language learning the best thing to do is keep it fun. I polled some of my other teacher friends and here are some of the greatest hits of English mistakes we came up with. Enjoy!


Student 1: “So, I called the transit company three times a month for six months and they finally changed the train time!”

Me: “Do you know what we call a person like this in English?”

Student 2: “A stalker?”


Student: “So, I dated this guy once…he was Christ.”

Me: “I’m sorry…what? Do you mean he was… Christian?”


Teacher: “You know there’s that person who always goes on and on at meetings…do you know who I mean?”

Student: “Oh yah, those guys…they’re always bumping in the bush.” (correct idiom – beating around the bush)


Heard from another teacher:

Teacher: “So, what did you have for lunch?”

Student: “I had a big cock.”

Teacher: “What?!”

Student: “I mean croque!”


In a listening exercise:

Recording: “So, all you need to do in order to get your books is hand in a pink slip. It’s so easy! You just give the pink slip to the librarian and she gives you your books!”

Student to me (with a perplexed look on her face): “A pink slip? Like what you wear to bed?”


Student: Have you seen the life of Pee yet?

Me: Um….

Student: Pi! I mean pi!


Me: So imagine you’re in Canada and tell me the story as if you were there on a trip.

Student: So, I’m driving through the woods and then suddenly I have to swerve to avoid a giant beer!

Me: Do you mean BEAR? I mean, we do have pretty big beers in Canada but….

And one more bear story:

Student: So a friend of mine went to Canada to photograph ice beer.

Me: Uh…do you mean….polar bear?


Me: So tell us about your life.

Student: Well, I was born in 1886.

Me: Uh….do you mean 1986?

Student: No, 1886.

Another student: You look really good for your age. (Laughter from the class)

Me (after writing it on the board): See? That’s 1886.

Student: Yes. 1886. Oh wait! 1986!

Later in the same class:

Student: I’ve been born since 1980.

Me: Ouch. Your poor mother.


In a class discussion about the weirdest things the students had ever eaten:

Student: So, the main course was a whole guinea pig. (“eeeew!” from the class)

Me: You mean like the pet?

Student: Yep. The starter was mice.

Me: So mice for starters and guinea pig for the main course?

Student: No maaaais. (German for corn)


In a beginner class on talking about yourself:

Me: So, you can be either single, married or divorced.

Students (all giggling): Die Wurst? (as in “the sausage”)

Incidentally that’s how they all remember the word “divorced” now.


The following are from fellow English teacher and Hamburg blogger Sarah Stabler:

After Easter time, one student was talking about his plans for “Go To Heaven Day”. (He meant Ascension, or Christi Himmelfahrt.)

I asked my students what their favorite things were to cook at a barbecue. One of them said, “Mice.” I just about died laughing. (They obviously meant the German word for corn – Maïs) – Another common mistake!

A student once told me that his colleagues were out chatting on the floor.  (They really meant “in the hallway”). So I lay down on the ground to show them what they had just said.

And some of the most common mistakes: So many Germans say that they sit ON the table instead of at the table. Oh, and they were ON a wedding. (oben drauf? hmm)

Thanks for all those Sarah!


And last but not least one of the number one mistakes I hear:

Student: My friend just got a baby.

Me: Oh yeah? Did she order it from E-bay?


English teaching in Germany is truly a laughing matter. Thanks to all my students for the great belly exercise and good times!



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Kristi Fuoco

 KRISTI FUOCO – Social media enthusiast, English teacher, writer, marketer, traveler, music lover. West Coast Canadian gal living and working in Germany and traveling around Europe. Current city – Hamburg.

Twitter: @kristifuoco

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My experience in Germany has been invaluable. In addition to learning German and taking part in another culture, I have learned so much about myself. I am confident that I can thrive away from the comforts of home and that I am dynamic and flexible. This is exactly what today’s employers are looking for – giving me a competitive advantage in the working world.
Kate from British Columbia – working for an international not-for-profit organisation.