Let me tell you the story of that piece of paper:
It was 1991, and I was in graduate school. As part of my graduate student duties I was teaching BIO 109 Introduction to Microbiology Laboratory. In this particular year, I needed go to Germany for a few weeks just as classes were getting started.
Luckily, the Biology department was able to accommodate me. They temporarily assigned my class to a Chinese student, who was available to teach, because he had flunked the Teaching Assistant English competency test (yes, there is such a thing...) and had therefore not been assigned his own class. Obviously, he had also never taught the class before and - in his defense - had really not expected to have to teach it.
Needless to say, the students were not happy! They complained bitterly to the course coordinator, Dr. Moore on more than one occasion. They didn't understand the guy. He didn't know what he was talking about - it got quite ugly.
Dr Moore tried to calm them down and told them that this assignment was only temporary. He assured them that the "German lady" who was supposed to be teaching the class was a great teacher and that they would be very happy with her.
Two week later, the day before the first exam, I was back in Kentucky. I heard about the trials and tribulations the students had gone through so far, and decided that I would have some fun with them. So I sat down the night before class and wrote out the most awful, error laced introduction I could possibly come up with - complete with the worst vocabulary choices that an atrocious English speaker from Germany could possibly make.
Now, picture yourself in that classroom. You have suffered through two weeks of microbiology class with a TA whose English you could barely understand. Despite your better judgment, you have not dropped the class. The exam is next week - and you finally get to meet the teacher, who is going to be there for the rest of the semester. You know that she is German, but she comes highly recommended.
As the "German lady" is standing at the teacher's desk, she looks friendly enough - almost American actually - and you have high hopes that this may just work out OK in the end.....
The lady smiles at you and reaches for a piece of paper that she apparently wrote a few notes on - and she starts reading the note. (Click here to listen to me read the text.)
There had been tension on their faces before I started reading the note. Now their jaws just dropped in utter shock and horror. As I was letting it sink in for a moment, I heard one of the students in the front say under his breath: "...and I was just starting to understand the Chinese guy!"....
Obviously, it did work out for them in the end. My real English language skills, even then, were pretty decent and they had no trouble understanding my lectures.
I don't think they ever forgot that "German lady".
Oh, the silly games we play....