Unclear on American Campus: What the Foreign Teacher Said

Ronald Kephart rkephart at unf.edu
Tue Jun 28 01:33:58 UTC 2005


At 12:43 PM -0700 6/27/05, Aurolyn Luykx wrote:

>I would think there would be more actual speech 
>disorders than "bipedal walking disorders", just
>because speaking is a more complicated behavior, 
>involving more separate but coordinated actions 
>(and more parts of the brain), and thus there 
>are more points where it can go wrong...

Well, maybe. Remember, it was only a hypothesis. 
But even so, while there may be a greater 
*number* of detectable language disorders, I'm 
interested in the *percentage* of people who 
display them. Besides which, bipedal locomotion 
is no mean feet, and no slouch of an achievement. 
All puns intended; no puns were harmed in the 
writing of this paragraph.

>If the intent was that the person could use some 
>professional help to reach something close to
>standard English pronunciation for academic 
>purposes, that doesn't seem so offensive to me.

It's somewhat disturbing to me, because we have 
perfectly competent academic folk with PhD's 
right here at UNF who speak with other than a 
standard (whatever that is) English accent, and 
they do just fine. In the case of the West 
African student, he had spoken English all his 
life; it was one of his native languages. I am 
pretty sure (sure enough to bet at least $5) that 
the teacher who suggested therapy for him was one 
of our local yokels who saw a dark-skinned person 
standing in front of her and shut him out.

Now, I do agree that non-native speakers of 
English who are teaching (or studying) in an 
English-speaking context need to be proficient 
enough to understand and be understood; 
similarly, I would expect to be required to be 
proficient in Spanish if I were to go teach or 
study in a Spanish-speaking country. But I 
probably wouldn't have a "standard" Spanish 
accent, since most of my Spanish has been tuned 
to Caribbean folk.

And yes, I'll be 60 in less than two weeks. It's 
a little scary. So much still to learn (or, some 
might insist, to unlearn)...

Ron
Aruskipasipxa├▒anakasakipunirakispawa!



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