English Class

We finally were given a full schedule this week.

In one of my first English classes I asked the class, “Have you ever been to the U.S.?”  No one raised his hand.

I asked the class, “Have you ever been to England?”  One girl raised her hand.

“What city did you go to?” I asked her.


“Philadelphia is not in England.  It’s the U.S.”

Then she turns to her friend and says in Spanish, “Well everyone was speaking English.”


You’ve been to Philadelphia and you were so much of an idiot that you thought you were in ENGLAND.

You went on an 8 hour plane ride, went through U.S. customs, went to one of the most historic cities in the U.S. and you thought you were in England.


Idiot girl.  Oh god.  I will remember her stupidity for the rest of my life.

on a different note…

These students have been taking English since they were 6 years old and many of them cannot even form a sentence.  I only took Spanish in high school and haven’t taken it since and manage to do much better than these folks.

There are many reasons to speculate why Spaniards don’t learn English well–they don’t value English’s international importance, their teachers are not native or fluent English speakers, and there is an overall poor work ethic.  Teachers of every subject complain about their lazy students, and the grading system is outdated at most schools, although I don’t think it is at my school.  Anyway, I’m not doing scientific research as to why the situation is the way it is, but once I have been here longer I will be able to make more educated guesses.

In all the classes I speak very slowly, I try to annunciate my t’s, and I use the easiest words possible.

In a class of 30 I said, “Raise your hand right now if you can understand me.”  I repeated myself again slowly, raising my hand as I did it.  Out of the whole class 1 girl raised her hand.  1/30 16 year-olds who have now been studying English for 10 years understood the words “Raise your hand if you understand me.”  This will be quite the challenge.



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2 responses to “English Class

  1. Jess

    Kind of reminds me of Hebrew classes in religious school…

  2. Sara Chertoff

    sounds a lot like the english level of most israelis who take hebrew their whole lives too…
    good luck!

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