Substandard English in the classroom

Don’t ask me why, perhaps it’s because I’ve got high expectations of professionals and people who claim to be upper-class or educated or simply mightier than thou; I don’t give a shit where you’re from or how much books you read or how rich you are, but when you declare yourself to be “highly educated” or consider yourself competent enough to deliver a lecture in English, use STANDARD English with grammatically correct sentences!!

I don’t know if it’s just a Singaporean thing, hey I’m not trying to make an absolute statement and banish all Singaporeans to eternal damnation because of their broken English, because I know there are Singaporeans who speak decent, universally-understood standard English…
Oh I know this has been a long introduction. But yea, please bear with me: it’s important to establish my diplomacy in the subject-matter. I don’t believe I’m totally objective, but I just want to first put forth a disclaimer that I am not against Singaporeans per se. It’s important you understand that I’m just perplexed at the amount of abuse Singaporeans throw into the use of a language I love, before you read on…

I noted, out of boredom and irritation, the mistakes in pronunciation and grammar my lecturer at the hotel school made over the course of about 2 weeks…

– “fee-zee-kli” (physically – he says this ALL the time. I cringe whenever he says that word) :S

– “oto-meh-TIK” (automatic, emphasis should be on the first syllable)

– Law of Tort becomes “Tort of Law”

– “dees-kaund” (discount, distinctive failure to emphasize the “T” at the end)

– “foh-gotten” ( lazy way of saying forgotten)

– genu-wine (genuine…correct way is jen-yoo-in, strong emphasis on the “jen”)

-> “these are the kind of discrepancy…” (These are the kinds of discrepancies.. My primary school English tutor self emerges, he should be smacked!)

THE WORST – “I ever went to this place…” (What’s up with the ever?? He really meant “I went to this place before…/ I visited this place…”

Never mind the bad English, I just realised he’s also kinda thick today… The “good lackey, bad boss” side of him showed shiningly.. don’t even want to go into details but my suspicion of his low IQ has been confirmed.

3 thoughts on “Substandard English in the classroom

  1. In reference to your last bigoted statement, I would draw a similar conclusion about you. Learn a foreign language as an adult and you too will be inadequate linguistically for a very, very long while. Communication is always the primary goal of language
    acquisition. It sounds as if he has accomplished this goal but you, a typical mono-linguist, are hung up on the means of that goal.
    You are not listing grammatical problems, as you incorrectly believe, but instead pronunciation difficulties and one translation discrepancy. By the way, “how much books you read”? Really! And you claim English as your native language. I would only accept this mistake from a bilingual person. Highly educated is a term used to refer to possessing well-rounded knowledge in a specific field and the medium of communication, in this case English, changes with the target audience. That change does not deplete the knowledge of the highly-educated person. I do agree that in a teaching situation, competence in the language used is a necessary component for learning. However, a few understandable pronunciation problems should not deter your learning. I suspect, however, that your narrow-mindedness will indeed deter learning in most areas.
    Get over yourself. You are not better than he is. In fact, he knows a subject you are learning and he is delivering it in a foreign language which is completely distinct from his own. Can you do so? Now, concentrate on your learning and less on how to place blame on your lack of learning.

  2. Thank you for your comment, it’s been quite a while since the last time I was reminded of that wretched lecturer. Based on this little short entry that I wrote ages ago in a fit of irritation caused by this lecturer in question, you made a few assumptions that will now cause your argument to be hurled down the chute. First of all, English is NOT my native language, nor did I claim myself to be a native speaker. I’m Malaysian Chinese, and I AM bilingual. Fine, I stand corrected on the one grammatical mistake you find in this entry. And yea, you’re right on the fact that a few acceptable pronunciation mistakes shouldn’t affect the knowledge imparted from teacher to student in a classroom.
    But did you know I failed to mention the fact that this lecturer in question claimed a whole list of multiple qualifications ranging from graduate degrees to post-graduate certifications on every school reading material he compiled for the students but they’re all either related to hospitality marketing or general business qualifications which made everyone wonder why he couldn’t even do a mathematical problem that only involved simple division and subtraction? In fact he insisted he was right even after we proved his calculations wrong. Why? He was following previous examination answers that came in multiple choice formats and he didn’t realise the one we went through in class had the options switched.
    Ok, fine, so maybe Math isn’t the primary skill in business. But that’s just one of the many negativities in him which ruffled not only my feathers, but those of the majority of students from my class. I graduated last July and he was fired last January, soon after we complained about his incompetence as a teacher. He did not impart any useful knowledge other than the texts he read aloud from the textbook (as if we couldn’t read them ourselves).
    His idea of a punchline was painfully repeated anecdotes about his working experience in Raffles Hotel when he worked there previously. It really makes one wonder why, with his qualifications and experience in the hotel industry he claimed to possess, he should be teaching in a small private school which paid him a lot lesser than what he would’ve been paid as, say, department head if he stayed in the industry. What happened there? Don’t forget he was only in his thirties when he went into teaching in a hospitality school. I don’t know, maybe I sounded a bit biased against Singaporeans and their use of English but if you’ve been living here and hearing the way typical local people speak, you’d either be amused like most tourists or be irritated like me. It’s not only about their accents and local slangs they use. It’s about their attitudes and mentality (which I wrote quite a bit about in my other entries, if you’d bother to browse) which, coupled with their bad English, make me cringe with disgust, because like I mentioned, I love the language. It’s like how you’d correct me on my attitude if I’d been a mono-linguist and if your other assumptions were right.

  3. I could only react to what you wrote and you wrote in detail of linguistic defects. Your newest complaints seems valid except for the prejudice you have developed toward the people of Singapore. You should be aware that even native speakers of English can mutilate the language and it is accepted as a dialect, albeit substandard.
    Of course, I respect your right to your opinion but I am concerned that your prejudices could become contagious.
    I, too, have lived abroad and have encountered a few irritations but I do not try to perpetuate negative stereotypes and I feel it is irresponsible to do so.
    That said, I am happy to commend you on your multi-lingual abilities. You are truly quite impressive. Perhaps you should be a teacher. By the way, for your linguistic information, the word less is as less as it can be without being a comparative adjective. Few, on the other, can be fewer and even a superlative fewest but the less said of the matter, the better. Therefore, I will say no more…on any matter.

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