Learn English – the student who was rude, selfish and impolite!

Manners and attitude make a difference. Find out how Maria’s friend handled a difficult student who was mean to the other kids.


Hey, there, it’s back to school for many students and teachers. I have a friend who teaches school and she told me about one of her students who’s been very rude, selfish, and impolite.

(Intro: English without Fear where you can learn to speak English naturally, through listening to stories.)

My friend, Juanita Alvarez, teaches seventh-grade math down in Florida, in a suburb outside of Tampa. Do you know what a suburb is? A suburb is a smaller area outside of a big city, maybe 30 minutes at the most by car or bus. So, Juanita, my friend, teaches in a middle school kids who are 11, 12, 13, 14 years old. 

And this weekend, Juanita and I were catching up on the phone. We were talking on the phone. I wanted to know how the school year was going since Covid has changed the way we do school. Juanita told me that most of her students came back to the classroom and she was really glad to see them again. She had taught them last year in sixth grade: sixth-grade math, math for 11 and 12 year olds. And this year she had them again in seventh grade. She was happy to see all of them, except for one –  Barbara.

I said, “Juanita, what, why are you not happy to see Barbara?” Well, here’s what happened.

Apparently last year, Barbara was fine. Pleasant, kind, normal. She got along well with the other kids. She had friends, but when Covid hit and school closed and all the kids went home, something must have happened. Because when Barbara came back, she was rude, selfish and impolite.

I said, “Juanita, give me an example. How, how is this Barbara? How has she changed?”

“Well, for one thing, she’s rude,” Juanita said. “She’s been saying things to the other girls like: ‘Sarah, how come you’re wearing the same clothes as last year? Didn’t your mom buy you new clothes for seventh grade?’ Poor Sarah was in tears. And another girl came and told me that she had heard Barbara say, ‘Debbie, your haircut looks stupid!’ Well, that’s not a way to keep or make girlfriends for sure.”

“She’s also been selfish. For example, after lunch, we eat in the classroom, socially distanced, but the kids can go outside for recess for 20 minutes to get some air. Normally, boys and girls like to play basketball. And last year, Barbara played with all the kids just fine. But this year, these last few weeks she’s been a ‘ball hog’. You know what I mean? One of those kids who won’t pass the ball, won’t share the ball, keeps it to herself. She keeps the ball to herself. She drills.(I should have said, ‘she dribbles the ball’) She makes shots. And then she does this happy dance and says, ‘Look at me, look at me how good I am at basketball. You all suck!’

Well, Juanita and I both hate that word – ‘suck’. What does it mean? It means you are terrible at something. But Juanita was quoting Barbara. Barbara was the one who was using that word.

I asked Juanita: “ Well, how has she been impolite?”

Juanita said, “She was very impolite to me last week on Friday. On Friday, I kept her back after class for a few minutes to talk with her about this change, this change in attitude, this change in behavior. And I said, ‘Barbara something’s happened. You’re not nice to the girls anymore. You are not sharing.’ And before I could finish, she stuck out her tongue at me and said, ‘I don’t have to listen to you, you ‘ole’ bag of bones!’ And she walked out of the classroom. “I was shocked,” Juanita said, “I didn’t know what to say.”

I was shocked too, listening to my friend, Juanita. Juanita has been teaching a long time. I said: “Juanita, first of all, you’re not old. You’re not a bag of bones. You’re very young. Why, you’re only 45! And you’re healthy! Well, what did you do, Juanita?”

Juanita said, “I thought, and I prayed for a creative way of helping Barbara and the class. So, a few days, I let a few days go by this week. And then on Thursday, I said to the kids: ‘Kids, we’re not going to do math today. I have a problem and I need your help. I don’t know what to do.’ 

And I made up this story. I invented the story about my nephew, I think I called him Peter. I said: ‘I have this nephew, Peter, who’s….13 years old.’ I made him one year older than the kids, ‘….and how I see him from time to time. But he’s just turned mean. And I don’t know if it’s because he’s 13 or what he is.’ I said, ‘He’s rude, selfish and impolite.’ And I asked the kids, I said: ‘What would you do? I don’t want to hurt our relationship, but I want to talk to him about his behavior. Would you jot down some suggestions? Will you take a moment? I’m going to give you five minutes. I want everybody to jot down, to write down five suggestions that I could do or three suggestions to help my nephew, Peter, see how he’s being rude, selfish and polite.’ Of course I had Barbara and mind.

I said to Juanita, “What happened?” 

“Well, I collected all the papers and then I read them one by one. Some of the kids had put their names on the papers, including Barbara, but I didn’t read out the names. I just read the suggestions. Well, they were wonderful suggestions. And all the while I was praying, I was asking, ‘Father, would soften Barbara’s heart. Will you open her eyes and her mind to see herself and my nephew Peter’s behavior for her to see what the others suggest.’

“And that’s all I did. I thanked the class for their suggestions. I said, I would let them know what happened with my nephew, Peter. And they went, they left the class. 

That was Thursday. Well, the next day, Friday, it was like a new Barbara came into school. She was…. not only was she back to being last year’s Barbara. She was even kinder. So only one day has gone, but that was yesterday. But I’m hoping, I’m praying that this little exercise about ‘my nephew, Peter’, I hope that it has a lasting impression on her.”

“Juanita, you’ll have to let me know. I’ll be praying, too. That is fascinating! We can all learn to be less selfish, kinder, and watch what we say. We need a filter. We need to think before we speak and we need to say to ourselves: ‘Is what I’m saying, true? Is it kind? And is it necessary? Do I have to say it?’”

And then I hung up with Barbara? No…..excuse me, I hung up my phone, I wasn’t talking to Barbara. I hung up the phone from talking with my friend, Juanita.

So, do you have anybody in your life who’s rude, selfish and impolite? Or, be honest, when was the last time you were rude, selfish or impolite? Leave me a message. Write me a message below this video.

And remember if you would like the written words, the transcript to today’s episode, go to my website, www.englishwithoutfear.com. Talk to you next time.  

(Outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.)

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