On November 1st I'm presenting 'Mind the Gaffe' at the London Language Show at Olympia, London.

'On November 1st I'm presenting 'Mind the Gaffe' at the London Language Show at Olympia, London.The London Language Show is an annual three day trade show in which teachers of all languages, i.e. not just EFL, can sample specimen lessons, catch up on latest trends and materials and listen to presentations. Mind the Gaffe is a forthcoming book and it's based on the experience that the most common question asked by people going overseas is 'How do I avoid causing offence?' So 'Mind the Gaffe' is about  causing offence and how to avoid it in future. In the presentation I loosely identify six types of gaffe or ways. They are: language, behaviour, political correctness, conversation, cultural attitudes and misplaced humour.

And here is the lesson plan.


Collect some examples of situations containing social gaffes.

Photocopy one or write it on the board.


1 Divide the class in groups. Get the class to work on the first gaffe. '

2 Make sure the class understand the context within which the gaffe was committed.

3 Ask these questions.

- What did people say?

- What did they do?

- What was the result?

- What do we  say or do differently in our country?

4 Ask the class how they would adapt language and behaviour in UK/ US/ Australia/ Canada etc.

5  Note major errors of language while students are speaking and correct at the end of the session.

6 Encourage the class to find their own examples of gaffes.

 Do this with B1 students and upwards and spend up to ten minutes on the exercise.

If you would like a copy of the specimen lesson plan and a starter pack of six gaffes you can use in class email me at barry.tomalin@ihlondon.co.uk. And if you are in London on Saturday November 1st 12-12.45 come along to the London Language Show at Olympia Exhibition Hall near Hammersmith. It'll be fun to say hello.









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