Cecilia Nobre ELT Blog

Home » Reflections » What is your teaching pet peeve?

What is your teaching pet peeve?


We all have our teaching pet peeves, admittedly or not. Mine is using songs in my lessons – I feel as if I’m padding out.

As I was listening to a fun podcast of TEFL Commute, I decided to ask my Twitter and Facebook friends what were the classroom activities they hated doing and why. Lots of people wanted to share what they hated the most, which was perfect for my crowdsourcing question.

Here are some answers ( in no particular order):


  • Comprehension questions  

Why:  “They are so artificial and end up leaving teachers and learners with a false sense of security .” ( Marc Jones) 

 “I hate it. They are always silly and obvious.” ( Juliana Mota)

  • The game “Find someone who”

Why: “I hate them as students often find them childish and I really would hate doing them.” ( Phil Walde)

“I hate ‘find someone who’ activities, too, and their variants (cocktail parties aren’t real parties unless there are actual cocktails in them)” ( Letícia Sales)

Other teachers who chose this pet peeve were Will Eduardo, Thiaggo Veiga and Monica Puntel.

  • Role-plays

Why:  “I despise any role playing activity. It never seems natural or meaningful, no matter how beautifully crafted the task is or the amount of personalization one put into it. Just… Don’t. I hated it as a student and hate it even more as a teacher.” ( Letícia Sales)

“I don’t like role-plays. I feel silly, students feel silly (maybe because I feel silly in the first place).” ( Cintia Rodrigues)

Other teachers who don’t like role-plays either are Elizabeth Castro, Daphne Walder, Kamila Linková and Ricardo Barros. 

  • Form sentences using the new words-like activities

Why:  “I find this kind of activity a wee pointless: more often than not it is not used at the best possible moment (it is used as controlled practice which it isn’t), there is no purpose other than checking understanding, it tests other skills like creativity which are likely to increase the affective filter of the student, etc. So… no.” ( Henrique Moura)

  • Overuse of Powerpoint

Why: “Overuse of PowerPoint by other teachers. They become dependent on it.” (Adam Beale) 

  • Matching words and pictures

Why: “Too long to correct.”(Anabel Fernandéz)

  • Reading aloud

Why: “ I don’t like reading aloud in reading lessons for a number of reasons:  a) reading aloud is not a real-life skill as it is often done in class  b) reading aloud is a feature of ineffective readers  c) reading aloud provides LOTS opportunities for students to make mistakes which end up not being corrected d) many people cannot focus on the message of the text when it is being read aloud. NOW, I am ok with reading aloud if the focus is on pronunciation, for instance – an ESP course for flight attendants, in which they have to read the announcements aloud. A great opportunity to focus on intonation, thought groups, stress, etc.” ( Henrique Moura)

  • Correcting homework

Why:” It’s so awkward mostly because not all the students do it and I feel like it opens space for distraction, disengagement and it’s a little bit patronizing.”( Gustavo Lázaro)

“Correcting homework when I know the students who haven’t done it, would insist on trying to give an answer to something they have no idea about.” ( Cristina Cabal)

Luiz Otávio Barros doesn’t like it either.

  • “I don’t do stuff I don’t like, or I don’t believe it.”

Why: Well, this is crystal clear. Brilliantly said by Sarah Priestley, Vedrana Vojković, and  Stephen Greene. 

  • Running dictations

Why: “ I also hate those running dictations as they just seem to be for the sake of fun and also that dictogloss think that is also just about memory. Some TEFL things just seem to be about forced fun and have little educational use people over 20 may refuse.” ( Phil Walde)

Juliana Mota also mentioned she doesn’t like it.

  • Anything and everything from English Grammar in Use

Why:  “I don’t like how the activities are de-contextualized, I don’t think that the progression of tasks is always logical, from less challenging to more challenging tasks, and I think some of the practice exercises are too short.”(Henrique Moura)

  • Half-term exams

Why: “They take up so much time, produce very little in terms of language acquisition and students just obsess about them. And then you have to mark the bloody things and explain why someone got 73% instead of 75%. A complete waste of everybody’s time and energy.”  (Stephen Greene) 

  • Simons Says

Why: “It drives me to despair.”(Amanda Jay)

  • Pairing up kids and teens

Why: “Pairing up kids and teens can be complicated. They are often reluctant to getting together and breaking their groups.” ( André Hedlund)

  • Cutting sets

Why: “I hate it.” ( Natália Guerreiro).

  • Reading activities using a quiz

Why:” I find it difficult to get students to check answers in pairs because oftentimes they just show each other their answers and do not go about explaining their answers – and in order to get students to do that, the teacher needs to invest some time in preparing for the task, which may get in the way of reading as the main aim – and the activity ends up dying down too quickly.” ( Henrique Moura)

I would like to thank everyone who joined this discussion. Thanks a million! 

How about you? What’s your teaching pet peeve?





  1. One pet peeve: Using songs in class – why – either the students won’t like it or they could use their favorite songs on their own time, instead of using precious time in class.
    Another pet peeve is when students sit and wait for the teacher to come and entertain them while opening to them the mysteries of the English language. I always tell them: get off your butt, take charge of your learning and you entertain me. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dfpickup says:

    I agree with matching pictures and words. Often totally inane. The same with boring/obvious comprehension questions.

    I suppose a bigger pet peeve is teachers just expecting to be able to just “go from the book” without exploiting or adapting the material to their class’s needs!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: