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The lady had a "smell" on her face

Updated on June 28, 2010


On the right hand side of the sign, you will see that the "beaty" salon is "buy the lift."
On the right hand side of the sign, you will see that the "beaty" salon is "buy the lift."

Confusing Words

There are just so many words in the English language that present a challenge for those learning, those for whom English is a second or third language.

I've been teaching in China on and off for three years - and have many stories to tell and enjoyed reading the post Commonly Misused English Words.

There are two pairs of words that have occurred frequently in my class room that always make me want to laugh. I do laugh, but not at the students in the classroom.

The first is smell/smile - "The lady had a smell on her face." Clearly the student meant "smile" and it came in homework so I was able to laugh out loud without embarrassing the student. I have learned that it is a common one.

The other one is snacks/snakes - "The students ate some snakes." Clearly the student meant "snacks". Again it was in homework.

But all around in China you see/read confusing signs and "Chinglish." Many problems arise from the online translator - which is why one also sees many errors and hilarious items on a menu in China.

Still it makes for many opportunities in China for English teachers.

A Guide to Teaching English as a Foreign Language


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    • coynea profile image

      coynea 7 years ago

      Plan on following your stories.... Good heavens this stuff is addictive!

    • Aussieteacher profile image

      Di 7 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

      Yes, but the cost of living is so low. I have done many trips, (Beijing, Xi'an and more) and will go home with a handsome figure in my wallet after just 4 months. The conditions here are good too - plenty of other Aussies and other English speakers. If you just go for the money it is not the place to be, but if you are frugal you can save a lot. I've not had to scrimp either.

    • batfink68 profile image

      batfink68 7 years ago

      Yeah, they are good ones. Some I encountered in Korea were:

      # 'My arse is chagrin' (offered up in a student's homework where they had to use the word chagrin)

      # 'Hair Pum' (perm)

      # 'Bus trap' (bus stop)

      # 'Sky Sailor' (pilot)

      I don't know how you can teach over there in China though because the money is so lousy. Back before the R.O.K. government cracked down on cowboys without visas, a teacher could make 400,000Korean won per day if they worked really hard- that meant a very astute teacher could make more in 6 weeks of teaching in Seoul than one could make in a whole year of teaching in China!