Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mystery of the patronising and simplistic English used in my English Social Orientation Class Solved

I was led to believe I was attending the English version of Antwerpen's Social Orientation classes however I am actually the only native English speaker in class because .... 'ta dah!' it's an English class for people who speak English as a second or third language.

Complicating it all is the fact the English in the textbook was written by a person who speaks or writes English as a second or third language.

It's a 5000euro fine if I don't attend ...

13 comments:

Manictastic said...

That explains a lot. :) Hope you're no longer mad at me for saying something stupid like what I said :)

Di Mackey said...

Lol, I'm not mad with you ... I was teasing that you were lucky not to be near me when saying how lucky I was to attend.

But Manic, English as a second language class ... I was a bloody English teacher in Turkey. Why on earth am I even going to this course. The teacher and I 'discussed' a lot of stuff yesterday, it seemed I had research Belgium more thoroughly than him ... grrrrr

Manictastic said...

Maybe the Belgian authorities don't recognise Kiwi-speech as a form of English :d

Just hang on, you're tough enough to survive this.

Di Mackey said...

My NZ English might be at issue ;) but I think the Flemish authorities fail to recognise that immigrants are intelligent people who have already proven they have the intelligence to move countries and survive hmmm 2 and a half years so far.

It's not about being tough, I don't have time for this rubbish. I already have to repeat one class because I am taking photographs at the European Parliament at the end of the month. Of course, I am meant to hand them a paper I've been given that explains I have to attend a social orientation course ... apparently this can be given to lawyers and/or any authority figures who imagine they are more important than these classes.

wandering-woman said...

Hmm.

OK, yeh, second or third language. God knows Gert could never read English above that level. Oh, wait, yeh, he can. And Manic, hmmm..your first language is....not English. And yeh, well, God knows I can only read Spanish preschool story books.


Hello??? This explains nothing to me. Maybe they have some reason to believe that the large majority of immigrants to Belgium have minimal education, in any language, that might be justification (happens in the States, eg, with the level of SPanish you might use, even, simply because the educational level on average is really low --in Spanish, or was, when last I lived in Chitown.)

But I make my living writing in English for consumers for whom English is not their second language. And somehow writing at the 2nd grade level never seemed necessary.
No? Does this really make sense to you now?

wandering-woman said...

Oh why o why must i always typo?

Ahem, I write for consumers for English is not their first language, obviously..ups...

Di Mackey said...

I'm making an appointment to see the guy who said I have to attend the course ...

I have a list of 4 things I want to discuss with him, not the least being the issue of the language level.

However I think it does points to a level of passive racism, that belief that 'the other' is less.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, Di, but sincerely, when I last lived in the States it wasn't racism at all....the Mexican immigrants arriving to Chicago had on average maybe a grade school education in Spanish (I taught English classes as a volunteer)-- It's one of the factors often used to explain "Spanglish" and the difference in US Spanish -- the large majority lack Spanish vocabulary and grammatical fluency, and so English words are plugged in and grammar is reduced to something much simpler and less subtle/elegant.

If the same were known to be true in Belgium, that the education level of those attending the class was quite low, it could have more to do with that than with English being a 2nd or 3rd language. More about content than language. It's racism if they assumed inferiority, I agree but that might not be it, or might be. I avoid fancy words and slang in my "international English" for clients, but truly, the VAST majority of English speakers in the world have learned English as a 2nd or third language.

Dying to hear what he says. Maybe you could get the gig to write a GOOD, USEFUL textbook.

Erin
exuse the anonymous, google seems to be mad at me.

Di Mackey said...

Hi Erin, the reason I suspect some form of undiagnosed or passive racism is because all of those in my class work. They're accountants, diamond traders, drivers or self-employed so the education level averages very high - at least 2 accountants, an Indian and a Phillipino, a diamond trader - all with flawless English, as examples.

The instruction to 'walk on the pavement in the city' still has the power to infuriate me.

I'm having trouble with making comments and releasing them here at v-grrrl's too. Sorry to take so long getting back to you on this one

Anonymous said...

Could'nt you do the Haka starting the class? It would make you so much stronger ... Lut

Di Mackey said...

Mmm, the teacher is already having an interesting enough time with me, I think doing the haka would be seen as an act of war and you'd be visiting me in jail ;)

w said...

Wow. I'm glad I managed to get out of it then. At least I believe I got out of it.... I'd hate to waste my time attending this.

Di Mackey said...

Ahhh well w, they're backdating all immigrants ... you can have been here 20 years and they're promising to find you to orientate you ;)