As I have blogged before, every once in a while I go to help a teacher friend of mine who teaches a class for the city. The students are all retired folks who come to learn English for a variety of reasons. Some of them are interested in traveling. Several of them have relatives overseas. One woman has a daughter, her husband and children in California. Another woman will soon has her son and his family in New York.
One woman was curious about her grandchildren becoming bilingual. She was worried that if they lived in the US that they would never be able to speak Japanese. One person asked what I ate everyday when I was in the US and now that I live here.
None of that is very unusual, but what was surprising was some mail that I got from the regular teacher of the class who said that one student skipped because, “They hadn’t learned enough English to talk to a foreigner.” My answer to the teacher follows.
I am a little confused by the member who did not attend the class, who
said that their English was not good enough to talk with foreigners.
First, I am bothered by the importance that my nationality has for this
person. Regardless of people's nationality, making links with other
humans is a great way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy Thursday
afternoon. As for their ability to speak English, if a learner does not
make the most of every opportunity they have to use the limited ability
that they have, they will not improve. Finally, my Japanese is fine, and
if the person really wants to communitcate, I'm sure we could have made
some kinds of arrangements for translation.
Generally a good time, though. We had some great homemade cake and a good discussion.