Nine Goodfellas Quotes for the ELT Professional

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” –Henry Hill
As the common refrain goes, nobody as a kid wanted to be an ESL/EFL teacher when they grew up. I sometimes wonder why that is. Maybe it’s because it’s not so widely known or not as glamorous as being a ballplayer or a gangster? Maybe it’s because of the work conditions? I doubt most kids are thinking about the neoliberal or neocolonial implications of teaching English.

Side note: If, as a kid, you wanted to be an ELT/ESL teacher I’d love to know about it.

“I’m gonna go get the papers, get the papers.” –Jimmy Two-Times
Sometimes there is just too many papers. It could be worksheets, attendance sheets, TPS reports, feedback notes. Lotta papers in this industry.

We were good fellas. Wise guys. But Jimmy and I could never be made because we had Irish blood. It didn’t even matter that my mother was Sicilian. –Henry Hill
Some countries (looking at you South Korea, among others) require EFL teachers to come from so-called native speaking countries. It doesn’t even matter how qualified the teacher is.

“Fuck you, pay me.” –Henry Hill
For all the teachers (and trainers) who didn’t get paid on time by their language schools.

“Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me.” Henry Hill
For all the language schools and training centers that didn’t pay on time but provided a litany of excuses. You opened the business and reaped the profits but when you have financial troubles you stick it to the little guy. Please follow Henry’s admonition.

I once experienced a delayed payment because the exchange rate changed. I said something to the effect of “That sounds more like a you problem than a me problem” but that didn’t really work so well.

“You mean—let me understand this, ‘cause, you know, maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean, funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh? I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?” –Tommy DeVito
Sometimes teachers fret too much about the feedback they receive. An innocuous or even positive comment from a student or boss can get taken the wrong way and can cause some stress and distress.

This quote could also relate to teachers insisting that they are very professional and eschewing moments of levity.

Funny how?

“You’d be late for your own fuckin’ funeral … What the fuck you lookin’ at? Come on, make that coffee to go. Let’s go.” –Tommy DeVito
For the students that can never quite manage to be on time. Like I always say, the only thing worse than being late is being late with coffee.

“One day, some of the kids from the neighborhood carried my mother’s groceries all the way home. You know why? It was outta respect.” –Henry Hill
Sometimes students will go out of their way to show respect. An example that comes to mind is wiping down the blackboard when the teacher usually does it themselves. Teachers are highly respected in some cultures and the way this respect is conveyed can vary and can sometimes be surprising.

What am I? A schmuck on wheels?” –Morrie Kessler
When the big publishers come out with something claiming to brand new and different but it’s pretty much the same old same old.

And… a GIF to finish things off here. When the teacher, trying to build rapport, laughs too hard at a student’s joke.

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