The 8 Most Annoying Foreign Language Classmates

This list is either a not-to-be-taken-seriously rant or a sweet list of strategies for improving your language classes.
The title could just as easily be, "8 tactics to turn your language class into a private lesson"

If you co-opt these behaviors to "refine" your own classes then some people might consider it a little (::overly-dramatic air quotes::) "Evil" aannnddd they wouldn't be completely wrong. But at the same time, if you can go from an annoying 6-person class down to a 1-on-1 private lesson, it's pretty excellent.

Which student types did I miss?  Are you one of these?  Share your own stories in the comments.

1) Captain know-it-all
This person is annoying in that they always seem to have the right answer to every single issue, no matter how rare, off-topic or mundane.  And frankly, they're annoying just because, well, F that guy. I mean, why doesn't he have anything better to do than know the ancient Latin root of that obscure word or the story behind every single idiom? And where did he learn all this fancy "grammar" anyway?  No one's impressed, nerd.

2) The Over Talker
Okay so I ~guess~ extroverts can be nice people or whatever but the Over Talker takes this natural character trait & manages to just ruin a language class.  They do this by dominating every conversation with wandering stories, opinions on everything & frequently talking over other students in the class.  Give it up, nobody wants to listen to your crap in English nor Chinese, no matter how charming you think you are.

3) La Tortuga or The 'slow down' tactic
We've all had our moments where we felt slow or behind the class and that's okay.  But La Tortuga is a person who is behind and getting slower every week.  It can be both in knowledge as well as in behavior but they are simply grinding your brain to a halt with the dead-air silence & drawn out molasses of their pronunciation.
Incidentally, because it can easily happen to anyone, it is also one of the most effective ways to push others out of your class.
Simply slow everything down to an absolute crawl & people will stop coming to the class. Then speed up once they have left. "Luke, give in to the Dark Side"

4) The American-Speaking-Spanish
Hohla mii Lammoo esstaahh NANcy. MooochO guusta. I used Spanish in the name because I have heard from more than a few Europeans that an American Speaking Spanish is generally regarded as the worst accent to listen to. I tend to agree.

But it's just a name & it really applies to anyone speaking their first foreign language. The annoying trait of this person is simply the raw, tangy, metal-on-metal sound of an American's first time speaking a foreign language, pronouncing it exactly as you would in English.  News flash girlfriend, you're speaking a different language. It might be worth understanding how people actually pronounce their words & giving it a try. Just saying. If this is your classmate then hopefully they will just leave the class out of frustration or you may need to mock them to get them out.

5) The Skull or The 'wait, I don't understand' tactic
There's a quick, deep & pure feeling of dread at the sound of this person's voice, 'uhhhhhh waiitt'.  The fourth time through a simple explanation, that the entire class understands, still isn't enough to penetrate this particular density of Skull.  This person simply does not 'get it'.
"But why does it mean that?, I thought shi meant 'is'?, wait I don’t understand?, why isn't it me gustas? wait, wait, wait...." arggh. As a tactic though, you'd be amazed at how many times you can ask for variations of the same explanation over & over & over & over.

6) The Spelling Bee Dropout or The ‘how do you spell’ tactic
This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Acting like a first-class-freshman, this notorious note taker is recording everything meticulously & they insist that every single word be spelled letter by letter. p-o-r-space-q-u-o-i-s. "can you spell that? is it a g or j? sh or z? with an accent? what tone?" I list it also as a tactic because it's easy to combine with La Tortuga & The Skull to really bring the class to a halt.

7) The Comedian
There are two manifestations of this particularly-annoying foreign-language student and you can recognize them because they are perpetually followed by awkward & insincere laughter.
One type is always trying to joke or be a smart-ass & no one but the teacher gives a fake courtesy laugh. It's like they know that the person was trying to be funny and just laugh out of socially-awkward pity.
The second type, or behavior, usually happens near the end of class.  As the class is wrapping up a slow grin starts creeping across their face & with a smug, self-satisfied look, they launch into their idiocy.  You can see them thinking to themselves, "oh man, I just learned this new word in class.  check it out, I'm going to use it in a new funny sentence & everyone will laugh & they'll love me".  To no surprise, it's just a complete #fail.

8) Don Juan-son
I feel like I've seen this situation play out more frequently with Don Juan as a guy who is incessantly flirting with a female teacher. This person is usually good at speaking the foreign language because they are learning it primarily to pick up girls (not that there's anything wrong with that).
But it becomes an annoying problem because they are awkwardly & constantly flirting with the teacher during routine questions.  Was it really necessary to say how pretty the teacher looks when we're learning the word for 'blue jeans'? Or asking her about her boyfriend when learning how to say 'dinner'? Seriously man, is this your best game? Rent Hitch or something instead.

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Well that wraps up my list of the most annoying foreign language classmates. Like I said above, you can also use these behaviors in moderation to "improve" your own language classes but be careful as we're probably all a little guilty of these behaviors from time to time. I myself exhibit more than my fair share of La Tortuga but, I swear, I only use it when others force my hand.

Who did I leave out?  Tell your own stories in the comments or use the buttons below to share this with friends

          Photo credits
          Lead: AIBakker
          1) Burtoo
          2) gromgull
          3) rocksss
          4) dave_apple
          5) Avenue G
          6) l0stpr0fet
          7) Jonno Witts
          8) Felix the Cat

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Comment by Melina Abarca on November 11, 2013 at 11:37pm

hahaha that's hilarious.

I've always had a lot of trouble when I had to deal with classmates, that's why I decided to be a private student, so I won't have any of those around ;) . 

The only problem is that since I love to talk as much as my teacher does, we don't finish each chapter as quickly. At least when we talk we do it in chinese, so I've learnt a huge amount of useful vocabulary :D

Comment by Brandon on March 25, 2012 at 1:35pm

@Thomas haha well done, maybe being #8 isn't always a bad thing...

@Edna 4 weeks is really fast - I'm so particular about teachers that would drive me crazy. I think you'll have to rock several of these 'tactics' at once to bounce them out. 

Comment by Edna on March 24, 2012 at 6:50pm

I have some of these in my Alliance Francaise classes, I feel like half the time I'm either shooting death glares or rolling my eyes because they're so annoying! But, the good thing about AF is every four weeks you switch teachers and classes. While it sucks to leave a good teacher, it's nice to know the annoying classmates won't be around for very long.

Comment by chariz on March 12, 2012 at 11:59am

Was that "Ni hao" and "Wo ai ni"  ?

Those are basic words that I also learned the first time. (",) I always hear those words whenever I watch Chinese movies or Taiwanese dramas

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Comment by Thomas Doherty on March 12, 2012 at 9:25am

Why was I always being taught "Knee How" and "War eye knee" as my first few Chinese phrases to say ?  Did I appear to be a #8 ?

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