In English





In English


My English as a Second Language class meets thrice a week in the school’s library.
Each Friday we play the Trivial Pursuit game – the children’s edition.

“First question: What coconut and almond candy bar is a joy to eat?”

“BURGER KING!!”  Says Aliz, a brash French grandmother, she works in her daughter’s salon and wants to learn the secrets of American slang.

“No, not Burger King. Does anyone else have an answer?”

Zeki a car mechanic originally from Ankara, Turkey, averts his eyes and writes something in his notebook. He has been in the class for nine weeks and hasn’t spoken a word in the group setting.

Ahtoh is an ex-coal miner from Russia. He wants to better communicate with his grandchildren. He follows Aliz’s thinking. “I think McDonald?”

“No.” Creshaun, a Sudanese boy, who lost his family in the civil wars, He speaks in a whisper, “No it is the coco Hershey!”

“No, but he is close. No one got that one. Next question.”

By a wacky twist of fate; the very next question: “What fast food restaurant makes Chicken McNuggets?”

Ahtoh stands and grins. “This one is Burger King! No, no McDonald.”

Aliz starts to clap. Creshaun laughs and Zeki smiles.

“He’s correct. Next question: What rock at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea belongs to Britain?”

Creshaun raises his hand. “The Rolling Stone.”

Laughter from all three; even Zeki giggles.

Aliz shouts, “The Rock of Gibralter.”

“Great job, Aliz. Okay, I have your work from Monday to correct, you guys continue the game.”

The assignment question was: Where is the pencil?

Aliz, Athoh, and Creshaun correctly answered : The pencil is in the mug.

Zeki’s answer read: The cylindrical lead-filled writing implement is encased within a ceramic receptacle for beverages.

I look up and Zeki smiles at me holding aloft his brand new Turkish to English dictionary.

Author Notes

10 Comments for “In English”

reigny dai


This is adorable. The Rolling Stone answer is funny, and this part: The cylindrical lead-filled writing implement is encased within a ceramic receptacle for beverages–is fantastic! That sentence reminds me of an episode of Friends where “Joey” uses a thesaurus to write a recommendation letter for “Monica” and “Chandler,” who are hoping to adopt a child.

Very nicely done.


Good write, Charles! Learning a second language is always a adventure, isn’t it? In the end, though, a lot of ESL students know English better than native speakers.

Keep up the great writes!

Anisa Claire


Hahaha. Fun piece, Charles. So either Zeki has been fooling everyone all along or this shows how translations can sometimes be too literal, losing the natural way we speak. Either way, it was a great short story.


charles stone


Hey, Anisa, long time no see. I enjoyed this piece, a fun just write something piece. Thanks for reading.

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