Monday, August 10, 2015

Why English is hard to LURN, part 2

A little more than a decade ago, I spent a year as an ESL (English as a second language) teacher in Guangzhou, China.

It was a wonderful experience. Not only did I lose 15 pounds (I got down to the weight that I was in high school), but I probably saved my life. My previous job (as a commissioned sales person for MetLife) came with pressures that caused my blood pressure and cholesterol levels to skyrocket, and the financial pressure of trying to pay high fixed expenses on an income that was anything but guaranteed led to more that a few sleepless nights.

If you were born in America, you probably don’t realize that English is actually a very hard language to learn, which is a topic that I previously wrote about roughly 3 years ago:

why English is hard to LURN

Two stories that popped up in the news this morning reminded me, once again, why English is a hard language to learn.

The first story is about a teacher in Utah (technically, he was the school’s social media strategist) who was fired for posting a blog about homophones. Although the action took place a little more than a year ago, there is no indication that the person who was fired has been reinstated. The school that he was fired from (Nomen Global Language Center) is the largest ESL school in Utah.

If you’re somewhat more enlightened than the school’s founder (Clarke Woodger) is, you’ll recognize that homophones are words that sound alike, but have different meanings. An example is shown below:

More examples can be found at the link below:

is it true that saxophone players are gay?

The other story that popped up this morning involved some “man on the street” interviews that were conducted by a man named Joseph Costello. He asked several people in Austin, Texas if they would ever vote for a heterosexual President. The responses are enlightening - as well as a little frightening.

many of these people vote and have children.

If you conducted your own “man on the street” poll to find out if people knew what the official language of the United States is, you’d also find that there are a lot of ignorant people in this country. It’s actually NOT English, but the link below will tell you what it is:

made you look, didn’t I?

The English language is actually much older than many people realize. It’s actually derived from several dialects of the West Germanic language, which originated about the time of Christ. Since the Germanic tribes that spoke the language lived among the Latin-speaking inhabitants of the Roman Empire, the language absorbed many Latin words as well. Today, it is estimated that roughly 60% of the English language is derived from Latin words, which makes me feel a little better about the 2 years of Latin that I was forced to take in high school.

Although English may indeed be a hard language to learn, those who move here from other countries will find it advantageous to learn it, which is exemplified by the sign posted below:

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