Boris Merkel?

This morning, I had an (of course) online lesson with a group of students who work at a pan-European company. The Spanish and the Italians didn’t show up – 8 a.m. isn’t exactly my finest hour either so I can’t say I really blame them – so I was faced with eight Germans, one Dutch guy and a French girl. It’s a start-up so they all look like foetuses and have Very Important Sounding Management Titles in teams that, to my 44-year-old ears, have no business existing. Champions Team. Onboarding Manager. Conceptionist… No, just no.

Anyway, we’d been studying the present simple and present continuous for the last few weeks so I devised (i.e. stole from a website) a genius idea to use the tenses in a speaking exercise. I suppose most of you are wearily familiar with Zoom by now but, for those of you who aren’t, there is a chat function where you can send messages to individual participants. So, the idea was that I would send a student a word – it could be a person, an object or a verb – and they would have to describe it to the others who had to try to guess the word.

To demonstrate, I typed “Ed Sheeran” on the whiteboard and asked how they would describe him.

Ute: Ed Sheeran is…

Me: Yeah Ute, it kind of defeats the purpose if the person’s name is the first thing you say. Try again.

Ute: Oh, right. Erm, he’s a singer. He’s got red hair.

Me: Good enough. I think there’s only one. So, you all get the idea?

All: Silence and staring which you assume means “yes” in a Zoom meeting.

After one of the German guys described a “sneeze” as “like an explosion in your nose”, I thought my day couldn’t get any better but that’s the great thing about this job – people can always surprise you.

I sent “Boris Johnson” to one of the German girls.

“I don’t know who that is.”

I mean, really, I think the world would be a better place if none of us had ever heard of Boris Johnson but how was this even possible?

I sent it to another German and asked her to describe him. I’ll admit that my high hopes of witty, political commentary (or just bitchy comments about his hair and fondness for suitcases of booze) were starting to fall a bit flat at this point.

Lydia: Erm, he has blonde hair. He’s the Premier of England. (I decided this was close enough.)

Silence. Then the French girl unmuted herself to save the day.

Angela Merkel?

Me: Right. Three things: She’s a Chancellor, well, now ex-Chancellor. Of Germany. And, as far as I’m aware, she does not identify as “he.

Am I wrong to despair for the future?

16 thoughts on “Boris Merkel?”

  1. Work titles at start-ups sound just as bad as those at bureaucracies. I twice introduced a guy I was kind of dating as a “conceptual engineer.” The first time got a proper guffaw from the person receiving the introduction; the second time got a “Really, how interesting!” from the other person. I know it’s a “real thing,” but it sounds like an oxymoron to me. Best of luck with your future classes. What again is the goal of these people in learning English? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Overall, to improve their fluency in Business English but it’s hard to teach them because they keep making up English 😀 In my day (God, how curmudgeonly do I sound – I guess even using the word “curmudgeonly” shows my age ha!), a conceptionist was a copywriter. And we had inductions, not onboarding. I’ve always hated that word!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A conceptionist is another word for copywriter? Wow … that is weird. I remember “onboarding” from my government job. Quite a few other English words were mangled by my English-speaking colleagues but, thankfully, I’ve forgotten most of them 😉


  2. It is just pure madness. I enjoyed Theresa May asking Boris if he had understood the Covid rules.. I think it is unusual for a previous PM to be so scathing of a PM in her own party.

    I think / hope his days as PM are numbered

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really don’t see how he can survive for much longer. The public are furious and rightly so. In a way, you have to grudgingly admire him for clinging onto power until he’s forcibly removed. Maybe they’ll eventually wheel him out the back door in one of their suitcases, once they’ve taken out all the booze, that is 😀

      Liked by 2 people

          1. Ok, When I hear the phrase ‘ambushed by’, I could possibly think of, an ex wife, an old girlfriend or maybe the Russian army, but never a cake with cream and strawberries…….

            As you can tell, ex girlfriends and ex wives worry me.. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha, yeah, he really covered himself in glory with the Djokovic shambles! And I mean, I live in Germany and I’ve heard of him (usually not in a good way) so I don’t understand how someone living in France or Germany could not have heard of the UK PM – or vice versa! I guess this is what happens when people spend all day on TikTok and Instagram… 😀


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