Unclear on American Campus: What the Foreign Teacher Said

Aurolyn Luykx aurolynluykx at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 28 23:00:03 UTC 2005

Hi Ron,
> while there may be a greater 
> *number* of detectable language disorders, I'm 
> interested in the *percentage* of people who 
> display them. 

Well, I think the same logic would apply (of there
being more points where the system can fail). The only
pun I could think of was something about things
getting Broca down, sorry  :-(

> 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.

Maybe. But even if his English was native, that's no
guarantee that it was 90% intelligible with the
English from another continent! More and more I prefer
to think of English as a family of languages.

> 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.

My own first teaching job was in Spanish, and mine was
very far from standard, since I acquired it from
Aymara-speaking teenagers in rural Bolivia. And my
students in the Bolivian U later on had a hard time of
it, from what they told me. In fact they came close to
asking for my removal, ostensibly because of their
difficulty understanding me. I wouldn't rule out some
anti-Yankee prejudice there, but when I look at my
class notes from that period, I wince, so their
complaints were probably justified (and yes, I know
this will probably provoke comments about First
Worlders in Third World contexts as opposed to vice
versa). Later we became great friends. And my Spanish
got better.

> Aruskipasipxa├▒anakasakipunirakispawa!

That's most of the Aymara I remember right there. But
I can still use it to impress acquaintances here in

 "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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