Why oh why ...... The Americans

<b>Forum for ideas on how to teach pronunciation </b>

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Why oh why ...... The Americans

Post by mwf1966 » Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:37 pm


A little story for all you non English English teachers (lol) How you can have a non native speaker teaching a language I will never know ..... Color !!!!!! what ENGLISH word is that!

A friend of mine recently went to the U.S. on a business trip and was unfortunately late (due to the taxi driver not himself) The meeting was held as always in a tall office block ( 11th floor ) and my friend was running through the lobby to catch the lift that was about to ascend shouting to the occupant "hold the lift" "hold the lift" ...... Out of breath my friend thanked the person in the lift for holding it for him, the resulting conversation went like this......

Friend: Thanks for holding the lift for me.

Man: No problems man, but actually it´s not a lift, it´s an elevator

Friend: No sorry it´s a lift.

Man: No man it´s an elevator and we should know cause we invented it !

Friend: Well my friend, we invented the language, and it´s a lift...

The moral of the story If you are not English (U.K) don´t try and teach the language as it´s annoying undoing the pronunciation and spelling of so called English ( U.S. / Canadian / Australian and others ) teachers.... Storms of protest to come i´m sure, but if you can´t teach the English language correctly ..... DON´T TEACH

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Post by Metamorfose » Thu Jan 18, 2007 1:56 pm

Reality is not as plain as this example you gave, the same lexical item can have lots of different names within a country, let alone pronunciation models and the like and mild misunderstandings can happen all the time,nothing that after a few turns both speakers reach an agreement.

You showed the problem but I haven't seen any mention to the solution, what is to teach correctly in your point of view?


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Post by MelissaO » Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:22 pm

Thanks for the tip!

I will quit my job on Monday, but only after having passed on your wise message to my employer, who employs dozens of American teachers. I will also make sure that your intelligent message gets passed on throughout the ESL teaching community in the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants will have no one to teach them English in their new country, but at least a bit of the supposed integrity of the English language will be preserved.

Can't imagine why your friend would travel here if she holds Americans in such contempt.

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Post by Lorikeet » Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:24 am

What a strange story. Instead of saying either side was wrong, it would have been a wonderful opportunity to have a nice laugh over the different vocabulary items in both countries. People who think "their way" is the "only right way" don't know very much about the history and usage of "their" language.

This is most certainly not a pronunciation question. It's a lexical difference, and if your friend and her elevator/lift partner had an open mind, things might have proceeded differently.

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Post by Luke Zimmermann » Tue Jan 23, 2007 5:18 am

Wow, I didn't know there were still people in the world with this kind of colonial thinking. I wonder how you feel about the following facts about the English language:
1. There are more Chinese people using English as a second language than there are Americans, let alone British. As a result there are most probably more Chinese TESOL teachers than British TESOL teachers.

2. The Chinese are adding more words to the English language than any other nationality on the planet. I am sure you will love those words.

3. In the process of English becoming a world language, many Englishes are evolving, sometimes jokingly named Chinglish, Japlish (or Engrish), Arabish and so on.

By the way, I am originally Dutch, migrated to Australia at the age of 25 and have been a TESOL teacher since 1985.

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