Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

One of the ways you can identify an EFL teacher is by the amount of random information they can spew about all kinds of topics under the sun, much of which is gleaned from the coursebooks they use. Here is a small selection of the random things (I think) I have learnt about, which may or not be right!

  • The following things were invented by women: Kevlar, disposable nappies, windscreen wipers and the dishwasher (New English File Pre-Intermediate)
  • The people who invented Coca Cola and clothes hangars never made any money from their inventions (one of the New Headway books – can’t remember which)
  • A French artist created an exhibition based on the break-up email she received from her (ex-)boyfriend called ‘Prenez soin de vous‘ – ‘Take Care of Yourself’ (New English File Advanced)
  • Influenza+Affluence=Affluenza – being too affluent can make you ill (New English File Advanced)
  • The World’s Funniest Joke has been determined by science – and is only funny the first time you read it! (New English File Advanced, as well as in another book which I can’t remember
  • A man cheated in the New York Marathon in the 1920s by getting a lift for about 20 miles of the course (New English File Intermediate)
  • Slow living is much more satisfying – I first read about Slow Food and Slow Cities in English coursebooks, including New English File Intermediate and Advanced Expert CAE and have now read “In Praise of Slowness” which I really enjoyed too

So that’s my selection. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt from a coursebook?


Comments on: "Things I’ve learnt from English coursebooks" (19)

  1. About a festival where you make things out of radishes, maybe it was in Brazil can’t remember, it was in Cutting Edge Upper Intermediate!

    Random stuff about dreams, like if you dream about the moon, you are going to have a baby! EF book Real English.

    Something about diets, like South Beach Diet, Atkins diet and Macro diet…pity the poor people who actually follow them is all I can say!



  2. Ha ha ha! It’s funny how true this is. I am a new teacher and now that I reflect on all the random things I have learned in only the last year, I’m impressed. ha ha ha

    Here’s what I’ve learned:
    -The Greeks “invented” pizza
    -There’s really good shopping in Poland
    -Jeans were invented in 1922,23,24 (can’t remember)

    There is just so much that I don’t think I have the time to write it all out. But I’m sure that I am now much better at trivia because of it 🙂


  3. We used to use a series of listening/speaking books based on real stories done by NPR. The little factoid that sticks out from one of those books (probably Consider the Issues) was Gilroy, CA is the garlic capital of the world, and at their annual Garlic Festival, someone introduced garlic wine. Tasters often compared it to salad dressing. Despite a desire to not drink salad dressing, I’ve been wanting to go to Gilroy and try this wine for the last 15 years 🙂

    I can also tell you that one exercise in a Reward series textbook present the very wrong information that exiting Central Park on the north end leaves you in the Bronx. Um…no.


  4. Sean Connery represented Scotland in the Mt Universe contest in 1950 and came third. (Prospects Upper-intermediate)


  5. Oh, this is SO true in Israel too, though we don’t use the same books you mention. And it’s not just the coursebooks, its the nationa final exams too! The writers of the exams look for topics that weren’t taught in the popular coursebooks. So:
    *There is a Siesta shop in Madrid (my pupils had a really hard time with that one!)
    * There is a sock museum in Japan
    * In some British schools parents pay if their children play hooky (ALL my pupils thought that was hockey!)
    * Residents in Arizona, U.S.A don’t use much solar energy even though it is very sunny and hot there.
    * The different uses of hot air balloons of the years

    What a delightful post! Really made me chuckle!


    • skypelearner said:

      Isn’t it great!
      And even better than now I’m learning even more little interesting facts. ha ha ha
      It’s funny that there is a sock museum in Japan because there is a shoe museum in Toronto (the city where I am from) and I always thought it was the weirdest thing.


  6. Katweeble said:

    sounds a bit like working in a library – again a good place for collecting random facts


  7. Seamus McSporran who lived on the small Scottish island of Gigha had 13 jobs (all at once) and at night he´d have a glass of wine with his wife and fall asleep in his armchair – New Headway Intermediate.


    • skypelearner said:

      yes! I remember that one! It was such an ‘inspirational’ story . . . ha ha ha
      Good ol’ Headway . . . always teaching us new things!


  8. that was wrong! New Headway Elementary it was 🙂


  9. Complete CAE, a scientist and her team managed to teach a parrot to say lots of words and recognise things, say what he wanted, apologise and all sorts. When this parrot died at the age of thirty something, he had the intelligence of a five year old human. i read about a kangaroo who saved the life of its owner by alerting the owner’s family (Face to Face Pre-int). I also find Cambridge reading exams quite informative. A PET paper talked about an ice hotel in Sweden.


  10. Another couple of things. I taught from New English File for part of my CELTA, and those of us observing used to be enthralled by the listening texts. I read in one of them the other week that Audrey Hepburn had a wedding dress made, but broke off her engagement and told the dress maker to give the dress to a poor girl who could never afford a wedding dress like that. I just thought that was so sweet!


  11. sue annan said:

    I used to get all my interesting facts from Headway.LOL


  12. The Audrey Hepburn story was the one that came to mind when I first read your post, Sandy, but then, this morning, I’m preparing a TOEFL listening/speaking lesson for tomorrow (yes, I know it’s sad that I’m working on a Sunday morning!) and I have learned, surprisingly, that ‘only toothed whales are able to use echolocation for communication’! (Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL Test). I don’t know when or how, but some day I’m going to impress someone with this useless piece of information.


  13. Oh, and I can also survive in the jungle if the need ever arises, thanks to tips learned from Cutting Edge Pre-Intermediate!


  14. Dinner party conversations often lead to the woman who lived in a plane (a Headway, probably Pre-Int) and how to train your husband using dolphin training techniques (thank you New English File Upper Int!)


  15. Very simple but I like the reason why the time is always shown as 13.50 on watchfaces in adverts (Speakout Upper Intermediate).


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