Come On, Let's Go.

Today’s Weather Is Pickled

A few months ago, I was touring the headquarters of the non-profit for whom I work. While my department's office, which takes up a relatively small single floor, is in midtown Manhattan, HQ is a sprawl of programs and facilities in an out-of-the-way Queens neighborhood. One of these programs is English language education for adults, aimed mostly at immigrants. Now, as an immigrant myself, I learned English as a second language at age six, and the material was appropriate for that age: we had coloring books about cats and lessons about the proper names for school supplies and so on. Even the Spanish classes I took in high school were aimed at studying the language in a purely academic manner. The workbooks for these classes were quite different. I read one of the handouts, which was a lesson on idioms for socializing and dating. There was something strange about teaching slang – especially when it had to do with sex – although in hindsight it made perfect sense. We second graders were picking up the very basics of communication. The individuals in these classes, on the other hand, have had an adult's-lifetime-worth of speaking in their own language and understood social cues perfectly well. They lacked only the vocabulary and its proper context to be able to communicate naturally. Still, even for the most dedicated student of the language, it must be odd to be asked to compose a sentence properly using the phrase “hook up.” Although, probably nowhere near as odd as studying under this guy:

via The Awl


Switch to our mobile site