Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Doesn't Ring Nobels

Yesterday I read a piece about Alfred Nobel 3 times to a group of ESL students. It was a pretty interesting read, for me. Of course, I've been speaking English all my life. Did the kids I read it to understand? Tough to say. I'm a pretty enthusiastic reader, yet I observed one kid incessantly tapping his foot to the point I considered asking him to stop (I didn't), and another on the verge of nodding out, then waking, then fading out again.

I always wonder what it would be like if I were sitting in China and someone were reading some clever and informative piece to me. Would I tap my foot? Would I fall asleep? Or would I politely feign understanding and hope for the best? After all, I know a few words in Chinese. Of course, I couldn't write Chinese to save my life. A character for every word? That's a lot of characters, far more than the 30 or so to whom I was reading.

I certainly hope they pass. If they don't, they'll be taking it again in June, and maybe again in August. There used to be these alternate tests they could take if they screwed up, but now we're getting tough and squeezing newcomers by the neck until English pops out. Not the most enlightened approach, but what can you expect in a state where Andrew Cuomo passes for a Democrat?

It's not a whole lot of fun teaching kids who desperately need instruction in English how to pass a test that won't aid them to learn it. But hey, no excuses. So what if you don't know English? We need to know how well you fill in these dots. In the old days, they gave people who didn't speak English IQ tests, in English, and determined by their scores they were mentally deficient.

These days, we give non-English speakers tests in English, and pretty much demonstrate the mental deficiency of those who design and mandate the tests.
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