For Your Listening Pleasure

A message most schools are probably copying word for word right now.


64 Responses to For Your Listening Pleasure

  1. Alana M September 6, 2009 at 7:33 am #

    OOO the last bit about language, I wish. My childrens’ fliers now come home in 3 languages, because heaven forbid anyone learn to speak English.

  2. sylvia_rachel September 6, 2009 at 8:07 am #

    I was right there with them until “If you want this message in another language, move to another country that speaks it.” I know there are a lot of immigrant parents in my city whose English remains lousy but who are much more likely to give their kids appropriate responsibility for getting their own shit together than the parent demographic at whom that message is obviously aimed. IME, it’s not the widowed mum who just moved here last year from Somalia with her five kids who’s phoning the school to complain about the teacher — it’s one or the other half of the two-lawyer couple with the two Lexus SUVs (one for each parent to drive each kid to private school in, natch).

    Not to, um, blatantly stereotype or nothin’ …

    Otherwise, though, LOL!

  3. Uly September 6, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    Alana, quick question – how many languages do you speak fluently that you learned as an adult while also trying to hold two jobs and raise a family? I don’t think it’s as easy as it sounds!

  4. Lauren September 6, 2009 at 9:04 am #

    I agree with the other posters – I agreed with the video right up until the end. A parent’s grasp on the English language has nothing to do with whether or not they are a complainer or an irresponsible parent.

  5. bushidoka September 6, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    Yup, same here. I am fluent in English and 2 other languages and this is a blessing, not a curse. The US is one of the very few countries in the world with this unilingual attitude. In my kids’ school in downtown Ottawa they as white Anglos are the minority and I would not have it any other way. There is so much about the world they can learn right within the walls of their own school – just by talking to the other kids and listening.

  6. MaeMae September 6, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    That is quite possibly the funniest thing I have heard. Although I do agree with Sylvia about the english part and especially about the immigrant most likely being the parent to make their child accountable. I loved, loved, loved the part about wanting the school to raise their child, hilarious. This sounds like something that should have come from The Onion. It’s so true it’s almost not funny.

  7. Kelly September 6, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    Yeah, super-yuck at the end. I live in a small town that has a growing population of non-English speaking families / ESL families. Speaking for us, my children and I welcome the opportunity to learn more languages, it’s been wonderful for us.

  8. Uly September 6, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    Incidentally, the facts of the matter are the historically, immigrants to the US (excepting of course the original European immigrants, who solved their linguistic difficulties by forcing the original inhabitants of this country to move further and further off their land, but that’s actually beside the point) have learned English in 3 generations – one generation monolingual in their native language, one generation bilingual, one generation monolingual in their own native language of English. There used to be public schools, in the US – public schools! – run entirely in the German language because the students attending them, and their parents, spoke no English.

    The only difference between then and now is that, if anything, the current immigrants are doing it FASTER, in two generations instead of one!

    Now, off-topic – Lenore, remember that school with the crazy pick-ups you mentioned a few posts back? Check out this article on it:

    The school *refused* to release the kid to her mother because she showed up on a horse.

  9. MaeMae September 6, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    Re: Uly’s link – Who does that principal think he is? Who is he to decide that it is not safe to ride home on horseback? This guy clearly has a warped sense of his own importance. I hope the parents of that school wise up and figure out a way to deflate that huge ego of his. If my child had to be escorted home by a police officer instead of being released to me, I would be absolutely livid.

  10. Uly September 6, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    In fact, the more I think about it, the sillier the “other language” comment gets! Britain – like the US, though without the forced removal of children – engaged for years in trying to stamp out indigenous languages. In the US that refers to Native American languages (and the removal of Native children to residential “schools”, something which also happened in Canada and Australia), in Britain it refers to Irish and Scots Gaelic, Welsh, and (arguably, it depends on how we define language – no, don’t laugh, it’s a real argument!) Scots.

    Nowadays there are schools which are actively part of revival movements by teaching primarily in these languages (and there are similar schools in other countries with endangered native languages), but that wasn’t always the case. So if you wanted to speak to your school in Gaelic or Welsh – which are spoken in the Great Britain, and which have *always* existed there – you’d be told to move? Move where, exactly?

  11. Uly September 6, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    Yeah, really. Obviously, the woman rode up on a horse to make a point – she even says so! – but it’s not exactly a danger to her kid.

  12. Kimberly September 6, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    I hate it when I see news4jax links on these sites. Sheesh – idiots around the world are one thing, over-controlling government employees fairly nearby. I can’t deal with it. I so hope I can avoid sending my son to public school.

    And the comments – a lot of people really thought it was crazy that she did that and that the principal did the right thing.

    I was at swimming lessons the other day w/ my son and the other mom’s were talking about the “horrible thing that happened at Local Elementary”. I asked what was going on. They said “when the school day ended a 1st grader decided to walk home alone! His mom was there to pick him up, but he decided to go home. The principal immediately sent people to look for him, and they handled it properly by calling the police, but it was JUST SO AWFUL that it had happened at all”.

    So I’m thinking the kid was hit by a car, or drowned in a ditch, or…nope. He walked home and played in his yard until he was found. And, yes, if I was his mother and couldn’t find him when school let out I would have freaked. I don’t like not knowing where important people in my life are. But, besides that, it wasn’t really such a horrible thing at all. And I’m fairly worried about what the response will be. How will they “fix that”. In what world are TWO HOUR WAITS to pick your child up for school appropriate (in the article Uly posted).

  13. Uly September 6, 2009 at 10:23 am #

    Kimberly, you’ll be much less annoyed if you remember this crucial rule: Never Read the Comments.

    The comments always, always, ALWAYS are populated by the dregs of humanity. Without exception.

  14. daftviking September 6, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    Uly – present company excluded, I presume? 🙂

    And another “ditto” for enjoying it up to the point where it took a swipe at language – but maybe that’s just my Canucktitude showing through there.

  15. Uly September 6, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Well, this isn’t a newspaper article or a youtube video 🙂

  16. Robert J September 6, 2009 at 1:55 pm #


  17. tiki god September 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    this is awesome. where’s it’s saying “to request another teacher”. yeah, it’s awesome. they have so many lack luster teachers that parents are always looking for a better one? I remember in high school I had one of the worst english teachers in the entire world, and there was no way to transfer out of her class.

    it wasn’t until my younger sister had the same teacher that my parents believed me that she was a horrid, horrid person and had no right to have power over anyone at all.

    god I hated that woman’s class. she was horrid.

  18. Louisa September 6, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    I did enjoy it, up until where it mentioned language; there’s a primary school near me whose summer fete poster had the main large text in Polish, then underneath in English, Hindi, and another language I couldn’t identify…

  19. Marion September 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    I love this, and especially the last line! This reminds me of something Theodore Dalrymple wrote once (I really recommend his ‘Life at the Bottom’ book of essays, btw), about how when his mother arrived in Britain as a poor jewish refugee from Nazi Germany in 1938, she had no money, no job and no English. Nobody was slightly interested in accomodating her, and she, and her son, was later very grateful for that because she learned to speak fluent English in a matter of weeks. It’s amazing how quickly one learns a language if one’s survival is dependant on it.

    I personally know of immigrant women who’ve been living in their new country for decades, and who still don’t know the language. Their husbands liked it this way, because as long as they don’t know the language, they can’t be ‘contaminated’ with those silly ideas of equality for women or learn how to ask for help when battered, etc.

    ‘And then, of course, there is the formidible Ayaan Hirshi Ali, born in Somalia, forced to marry an abusive stranger, who fled to the Netherlands, not knowing the language, but who learned that language, educated herself, got an University degree and became a member of the Dutch Government, all in a few years. She came to the Netherlands embracing her new country, and so wanted to learn its language. Anyone who immigrates to a new country but refuses to learn its language is rejecting it. Why accomodate people for being so unspeakable rude?
    Alas, for our governent gives out fliers about how to cast the vote in several languages. Madness.

  20. Chelly September 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

    I have heard this before and loved it, even the whole part of the language…. That was until my husband got orders to move the family to Germany for 4 years. To me, this was no big deal. I lived in Germany for 5 years before, retained some of my German, and took German in high school…. Yup, the typical American “know it all” attitude.

    Welcome family to a part of the country that does not speak the German I grew up with, where it even has a bit of a French mix to it… So understanding is next to nil, unless I can literally get the person speaking to slow down to one word a minute.

    The area I live in has many English speaking people as they have learned English in schools and worked on it for the Americans that would be living in their areas. These people actually accommodate us! I know learning English is not easy, but these people in the area around the military base and a few scattered villages learned our hard language so they could speak to those that would bring in money for their communities. They put up with a LOT of American crap, and I will say, many Americans I have seen, and I will admit, I have contributed, not meaning to and have gotten better and spotting my missteps, treat these Germans much like the immigrants in America treat the Americans.

    I have tried to brush up on my German, especially the German for the region we live in, but because of the amount of English speaking people and places, they do not offer many classes, and those few classes that are offered, I can not attend due to no child care (since the classes do not allow children under the age of 10 to join).

    So besides the language part, I will 100% agree with the phone message. I am an active part of my kids’ schooling, I attend meetings, and have requested additional ones when I feel someone is not meeting standards (mostly the kids, the teachers are doing great!) I have watched kids get pulled from classrooms because the parents didn’t like the fact that the teachers are holding kids responsible for their actions. Teachers know me at the schools, and know if one of my kids act up in class, they can come to me and I will back the teacher on punishments. They also know that if an unwarranted punishment is dealt, I will back the child. Kids need to learn, that is what school is for, learning. It is not a daycare center. It is a place of education.

  21. Dave September 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    Mny focused on the language part at the end. Strain at a gnat to swallow a camel. The point is well made. Children need to be responsible for what they do and parent need to hold them to that responsiblity. There is a real world out there waiting for them to graduate.

  22. MaeMae September 6, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Marion, my concern is new immigrants. Great for the woman who learned an entire language in two weeks. However, I know for a fact that I would not be able to move to any country and learn their language that fast and what if we got there just prior to school starting? I should be punished for that? I agree that people should take the time to learn our language as I would try to learn theirs if I moved there but let’s give people a break. Immersion moves the process along much quicker but I still think it would take some time.

  23. Rich Wilson September 6, 2009 at 11:18 pm #

    @Uly’s link: I asked a couple of blogging lawyers about the “Kid’s can’t ride to/from school even with parent” thing, but nobody has responded. I just can’t see how this isn’t false imprisonment. Either you think my kid is in danger to the extent that you need to call CPS, or you let them go.

  24. Virginia September 6, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    Sadly, I don’t find that message funny at all. To me, it encapsulates the confrontational attitude and general lack of respect that many school systems show to parents and families.

  25. Uly September 7, 2009 at 12:24 am #

    Marion, some people are exceptionally gifted in language. Most aren’t.

    When you’re a child and learning language from scratch it takes you up to two years to even have a few words! Learning a language when you also have to UNlearn your own language and own ways of doing things? And you’re not in the best age range for learning language? Much, much harder.

    Some people can do it super fast, but those exceptions should not be cited as a reason to show a lack of basic compassion for those who are more normal.

  26. beanie September 7, 2009 at 1:43 am #


    Accountability = “good”

    Mono-lingual, xenophobic attitude = “bad”

  27. Lavender Blue September 7, 2009 at 1:45 am #

    I don’t know why people have a problem with the last part about the english. Yes it’s okay to bi lingual and more so and to learn new languages. The point of that last part is to say that an American school has no obligation to cater to anyone’s language but English. While we don’t have an official language in this country, our laws and to take the citizenship test are all in English so if people coming here can’t be bothered to learn it, why make it easy for them? They rather use their children as translators than learn English. Why should we give the courtesy of providing any document/phone calls in multiple languages if an immigrant can’t be bothered to learn English? It works both ways.

  28. Uly September 7, 2009 at 2:29 am #

    . The point of that last part is to say that an American school has no obligation to cater to anyone’s language but English.

    That wasn’t any form of American accent. Furthermore, American (like Britain) has a wide variety of indigenous languages – should none of them be supported? Further still, in many parts of the country (such as “New Mexico”) the Spanish-speaking immigrants were here before the English-speaking immigrants. It’s not really as simple as you’re making it out to be.

    if people coming here can’t be bothered to learn it, why make it easy for them?

    You assume that they “can’t be bothered to learn it”. In fact, the evidence is that when there are ESL classes available that people can afford and can afford to GO TO (doesn’t matter how cheap the classes are if you have to work those hours), people sign up in droves.

    Of course, learning a second language as an adult is hard work even in ideal situations. Holding down two or more jobs while raising kids and sending money home is probably *not* the ideal situation. Sure, some people manage it – but it’s not a moral failing if you don’t.

    Even if they really can’t be bothered to learn, as you say, which strikes me as a highly suspect argument, I do not think it is appropriate to suggest that we withhold vital information about education or health services or legal matters from them because to do otherwise is to “make it easy for them”. Talk about a lack of compassion! If it is necessary to tell people that school is open from this date to this other date, it’s necessary to tell them so they understand and so their children can learn. To keep this information from them “for their own good” would be to deny people some basic human rights – and I simply can’t get behind that.

    They rather use their children as translators than learn English.

    And by providing information in a variety of languages we not only pour money into the economy by paying translators and interpreters, we also free up their children to live their lives without having to do this job. You’re being inconsistent – if you think it is wrong for their kids to help their parents in this fashion then you much, logically, support providing information in all necessary languages.

    Why should we give the courtesy of providing any document/phone calls in multiple languages if an immigrant can’t be bothered to learn English?

    I believe I covered this, but let’s recap:

    1. Because basic human rights and common courtesy do not go away because of communication difficulties.

    2. Because it’s not actually as easy to learn a new language as you think.

    3. Because – contrary to what you believe – people are eager to avail themselves of language lessons when they are made available to them, and because immigrants to this country have switched the typical three-generation cycle for total fluency in English to a much faster two-generation cycle – yes, today’s immigrants are learning English faster than your own great-grandparents did. (No, your immigrant relatives did *not* learn English, they most likely lived and died in immigrant enclaves where they spoke with people who talked like they did. )

    4. Because, in fact, we don’t want minor children to have to translate for their parents.

  29. Uly September 7, 2009 at 2:29 am #

    *Must, not much, obviously.

  30. Uly September 7, 2009 at 2:33 am #

    Oh, and finally – in many places they actually *do* have an obligation to provide services in multiple languages if they have enough ESL students (and parents!) to warrant that. An actual, legal obligation. I don’t know if that applies to the UK, though, where this video is from. (Unless it’s from Australia. I can never tell their accents apart!)

  31. ebohlman September 7, 2009 at 3:53 am #

    Uly: Good point that the mere fact that somebody can do something doesn’t mean that everybody can do that thing if they just try hard enough. There are plenty of people (in fact, a supermajority of people) who would never be able to run a mile in less than four minutes no matter how hard they trained. And yet the majority of them have no medically diagnosable neuromuscular or orthopedic condition that would account for that inability. And yet there are people who have done it. The simple fact is that what that supermajority of the population lacks is neither good health nor motivation. What they lack is a rare gift.

    In the case of people who have overcome poverty or similar disadvantages, most research has shown that what distinguishes them from those who haven’t is not personal qualities but social support; they’ve had mentors, generally in the form of an adult, biologically unrelated to them, who took an interest in them from an early age. Nowadays, of course, the first thing most people think of when they think of such an interest is pedophilia. That’s because they can’t imagine anyone doing anything for anyone other than for purely selfish reasons (most of those mentorship relations involved an adult woman with a female child or adolescent. Most authorities who study child sexual abuse say that while CSA of female children by adult women isn’t nonexistent, it’s so rare that it’s impossible to accurately estimate its prevalence). So that route is foreclosed for the near future.

    Let’s remember that as denizens of the blogosphere, we’re an unusually privileged and advantaged group of people. We’re far more educated than the majority of the population. We’re far better readers than most adults (we may not be aware of that because our elementary-school classes were grouped by reading ability, even though it might not have been made explicit, and therefore our peers were also particularly good readers. When we say that today’s kids can’t read as well as our peers did when we were kids, we’re right, but in that respect today’s kids are no different than yesterday’s kids). We’re on average more affluent than the general population. So we take for granted a certain level of access to resources, to the point where we don’t even consciously recognize that access and don’t think it was essential to our success. So when we look at other people, we see only their level of motivation and not the presence of those resources. A lot of things we expect them to do, and are suprised that they don’t do, are things we can do but they can’t, not because of any personal limitations but because of lack of resources.

  32. Uly September 7, 2009 at 4:03 am #

    Ebohlman, I may end up quoting you in the entirety there one day. I don’t know where, and I don’t know when, but I will.

  33. AirborneVet September 7, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    I thought the whole thing was funny. I live very close to the Mexican border and I constantly get annoyed that there are businesses etc. on the American side that absolutely REFUSE to speak in English to customers or have any signs in English. Also, if you can’t read English and our road signs are in English, why is the driver’s test made available in Spanish? Shouldn’t one be required to read the signage?

    When I travel to Mexico, I always take someone with me who speaks Spanish and when I have traveled to other countries, I profusely apologize if I can’t speak their language and need to ask a question. No one has ever apologized to me for not speaking English when they are in America. Instead I get yelled at for not speaking Spanish. I speak several languages, just not Spanish.

    Half of my cable channels are in Spanish, so I basically pay for stuff I can’t watch. If we are going to cater to one foreign language, we must cater to them all. When I complain, of course, I am called a racist. Whatever.

  34. Anna September 7, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    Great video! The last line didn’t bother me. I know people who have lived in the Netherlands for 30 years and don’t speak a word of Dutch. I understand not being able to speak it like a native but not being able to speak it all is lazy.

    If you move somewhere for a work assignment it’s different, you’re only planning to be there for a few years. But these people plan to stay the rest of their lives, without knowing the language they cannot get a job or contribute to society.

  35. Uly September 7, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    Why is the driver’s test made available in Spanish? Shouldn’t one be required to read the signage?

    My nieces (who aren’t in a driving city!) knew how to identify many different signs and what they meant without ever being able to read. The good thing about our signage is that it’s usually made with some built-in redundancy – you see several different things which indicate the meaning.

    If we are going to cater to one foreign language, we must cater to them all.

    Cater? It’s called the free market. There is a big enough market of people who wish to have channels in Spanish for the cable company to justify packaging it altogether. There isn’t such a market in your area for other languages, excepting, presumably, English.

    Don’t kid yourself that you’d pay less if they offered English-only for subscribers who opted-out of the Spanish channels. It’s probably more expensive for them to offer a la carte, which is why it’s all or nothing in the first place.

    I constantly get annoyed that there are businesses etc. on the American side that absolutely REFUSE to speak in English to customers or have any signs in English.

    Well, again, it’s the free market. They don’t HAVE to speak in English if they don’t want to – and you don’t HAVE to shop there. Take your money elsewhere, and they’ll either cater to their niche market of Spanish speakers or, if it turns unprofitable to do so, expand to include English.

    It annoys me that the Burger King by the former WTC doesn’t offer free water anymore and that the cashiers have an attitude when you ask for it, so I walk a little further to go to the one by St. Paul’s instead. Same difference, except we all speak the same language.

  36. Jocelyn Hooge September 7, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    I have to say this sure beats the answering machine message I get at my children’s school…which is a tone followed by “We’re sorry. There is no one available to take your call at this time. Please try back again.” No option to leave a message. I wonder what happens when you select one of the options… hehe

  37. MaeMae September 7, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Come on now, Virginia, surely everyone knows at least one parent like this and can sympathize. I know more than one parent like this and my kids don’t even attend school.

  38. jecmama September 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

    I loved the WHOLE thing! I think it accurately represents parents and schools attitudes toward public education. There are good teachers out there, but there are a lot of less than adequate teachers. I hear people talk about great schools, I just never found one and ended up pulling my kids out to home school them. I believe that you have an obligation to learn English if you live here. I lived in Germany for four years and I NEVER expected someone to speak English to me. I attended German classes and immersed myself in the German culture to give myself every oppotunity to learn. I carried my German translation books everywhere I went and asked people to write things down for me if I couldn’t understand. As for the statement about it taking two years for a child to be fluent in a foreign language, I disagree. I personally know over 20 children placed in German schools by their American parents that were fluently speaking the language by the end of their first nine month school year, because no one catered to their native language. They were forced to learn the language in order to communicate. When you move to a country and expect to live, work, and educate your children there IHMO you have a responsibility to learn the language, even if it’s hard.

  39. Uly September 7, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    As for the statement about it taking two years for a child to be fluent in a foreign language, I disagree.

    No, I’m talking about their FIRST language 😛 Unless your child was speaking fluently at nine months of age.

    When you move to a country and expect to live, work, and educate your children there IHMO you have a responsibility to learn the language, even if it’s hard.

    Which language? Many countries – including Germany – have more than one spoken native language. (And that’s not even getting into the language/dialect debate or counting immigrants!)

    Meanwhile, the schools have a responsibility to educate your child and the hospitals have a responsibility to treat your wounds and inform you of your diseases, even if you’ve callously and foolishly decided to speak your own language while seeking asylum or being a refugee or holding multiple jobs. What you describe – attending classes (who paid for them? how much did they cost? what percentage of your pay was that? how flexible were the hours? what were your working hours?) and “immersing yourself in the culture” (did you do that in your free time? what did that entail? how much time did you devote to this weekly? what percentage of your free time was left for housework, commuting, sleeping, medical or bill problems, legal issues, taking care of your children…? how did your free time compare with your working hours?) sounds like you had more resources than many immigrants to this country.

  40. MaeMae September 7, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    It’s easier to learn languages as a kid. I think the concern here is parents. It takes us longer and BTW, I think you either have an aptitude for languages or you don’t and that seriously affects the time it takes to learn. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try but maybe we can be given a lttle slack…please?

  41. Uly September 7, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try but maybe we can be given a lttle slack…please?

    Just about this. I want to be clear that I’m not arguing that for immigrants to isolate themselves in enclaves is the best solution (although it’s a traditional one – just about EVERY immigrant group except the English has taken three generations to move from monolingual in their own language to complete English fluency, except that today’s immigrants are doing it in TWO generations – but I’ve said that). I just think that a little less judging would be a good thing.

    All these people talking about how others are too lazy or selfish or what-have-you to learn English – I don’t see you offering up money to fund free or low-cost ESL classes. I don’t see you volunteering to teach the subject. People flock to these classes, but – if they’re affordable and offered when they’re of any use to them! – they’re often crowded out. I find the assumption that people are making a conscious choice not to learn English to be judgmental and rude, and the further belief that their not learning English somehow harms YOU personally (because you get a note sent home with more than one language on it?) to be, at a minimum, baffling.

    This goes double for people complaining about private businesses. If my phone company makes more money by offering to let people speak in Spanish or Arabic or Chinese or… or Klingon, even – great! More power to them. They’re not doing anything illegal or unethical, they’re just trying to maximize profits like good little capitalists. If this store in a Hispanic neighborhood doesn’t bother to hire bilingual clerks because there’s very little demand for an English speaking clerk in their store (or because they mostly hire family members who work cheap) – well, I can deal or I can take my dollars elsewhere.

    Or, I guess, I can vent my frustrations online.

  42. Bob Davis September 7, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    I’m retired from the telecommunications dept. of a major electric utility. Some years ago, I was looking over the diagram for one of our phone systems and noticed trunk lines coming into the system labeled with about half a dozen different languages. If a customer’s lights are off, we want the get them back on line now, not wait for them to learn English.

  43. Bob Davis September 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    Oops! Last sentence should read:…..want TO get them back on line….

  44. Louisa September 7, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

    As for the debate about which country this is from, it’s a very English accent, perceived even here as posh, a ‘BBC voice’

  45. cagefreekids September 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    Hi! Lenore here! Just wanted to say I posted this thing because, for the most part, it was about helicopter parenting. I did not mean to ignite a debate about English as a second languaage, and am sorry the focus has been on the line about learning to speak the language, which I, too, found harsh.

  46. Uly September 7, 2009 at 9:29 pm #

    As for the debate about which country this is from, it’s a very English accent, perceived even here as posh, a ‘BBC voice’

    Actually, I finally clicked the link and it seems to be an Australian ad. Same difference.

    Australia has 18 thriving indigenous languages (out of ~200 that existed when Europeans first arrived), not counting creoles and Auslan.

    I did not mean to ignite a debate about English as a second languaage, and am sorry the focus has been on the line about learning to speak the language, which I, too, found harsh.

    Sorry. *blush*

  47. K September 7, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    I am so torn.

    I like the idea that it promotes accountability.

    I don’t like: the snide attitude that there is no reason to meet questions with reasoned and calm answers, the sense that there is no reason that a child might need some accommodations (reasonable). The sense that all people should speak a language to expect rights.

    I do think that if you live here – you should learn our language. But, also that it is reasonable to assume that learnign a language takes time.

    I also believe that some kids don’t fit in round holes and we should be ready to meet their needs (on both ends – gifted kids are special too, often both in what they are great at and their deficiencies).

    Some teachers ARE tyrannical. (but, most are not).

    Finally, though, yes – kids should suffer consequences when they don’t do what they are supposed to do.

  48. Graey September 8, 2009 at 1:15 am #

    I believe the accent may be Australian.

    As for having to learn a language, or having to accommodate language, I think it’s like this. If you live somewhere and don’t speak the language, whether it’s official or not, you should expect to have difficulties, and should either put forth effort, whether it’s learning the language or finding translators, to fit in, or accept that you are going to have a hard time. You should not automatically expect the community to bend over backwards to make your life easier. On the other hand, if a significant part of an area’s population speaks something else as a primary language, as do some areas of the USA and Spanish, it shouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some amount of catering towards that other language and its speakers. To say that any one or any thing should have to learn or change, however, I think is arrogant.

    As for parents sending children to school and not being able to communicate with the faculty at that school, you should probably find a way to communicate with the people watching over your child eight hours a day. That is not to say the school does not have a responsibility to offer reasonable options to its students and families based on their needs, but at the end of the day it’s your child’s well being we’re talking about. If you yourself can’t speak to them, find a friend, use an online translator, talk to different faculty members until you find one who speaks your language, etc.

    Should public schools have to do it? Probably. If enough of its participants need Spanish, then add Spanish options to the phone system already. If not that many people require Russian, don’t add Russian yet. It doesn’t have to be this complicated. If necessary, put it to a vote.

  49. Anna September 8, 2009 at 4:15 am #

    When I was a teenager, my mother volunteered for a local literacy group. She completed some training, then was assigned to teach English to an immigrant woman (whose 4 year old was also present during the tutoring lessons).

    The immigrant woman’s husband was employed and became semi-fluent in English relatively quickly, but retained a strong accent. The school-aged children became extremely fluent in English (and eventually without accent) by the end of their first year in the American public school. The 4 yo old was quite fluent in English by the time the tutoring sessions were concluded (my mother went back to school and no longer had the time to volunteer). The immigrant mother, who was a homemaker, was fairly isolated from English speakers (she didn’t drive, either), and she never became very fluent in English. But her husband eventually owned his own business and all their children went on to advanced degrees and successful careers. This pattern is fairly common for immigrant mothers and their families. I’ve always found the judging of non-English speaking immigrants to be quite harsh, though yes, I think the children of immigrants should become as fluent as possible in the new language to ensure their future success.

    I have vivid, wonderful memories of the Thanksgiving feast we attended at this family’s church the year my mother was tutoring this woman. It was a colorful and aromatic occasion with national costumes and exotic (to me) foods in celebration of the holiday. It’s my first recollection of close-up exposure to a “foreign” culture and one for which I am very thankful.

  50. mammatiamat September 8, 2009 at 5:57 am #

    “she learned to speak fluent English in a matter of weeks”

    Bee. Ess.

    I just finished ulpan, which is a very concentrated, intense language-learning seminar for people to learn Hebrew (typically in order to study in or immigrate to Israel). I spent my entire summer learning Hebrew, working for many hours per day, practicing at home, watching movies in Hebrew, etc. Also, this is my third modern language (after English and German) and so I have a system and a knack for learning languages. And, I got an A in the class.

    After months of intensive study, I sweated through the final oral exam. Topics covered included where do I live now and where did I live before, what kind of food do I like for breakfast, and what are the basic requirements of my children. Very, very basic discussion. It was difficult and it stretched my comprehension and vocabulary to the max. I’ve got another good year of study before I can pick up the Jpost and have a read. Right now, watching “Bob the Builder” and “Sesame Street” in their Israeli versions are just beyond my comprehension as well. I pick out words and phrases, but not everything.

    I’m really tired of hearing people who are themselves more likely than not MONOLINGUAL (2 years high school French or Spanish is unlikely to count) going on about this, too. If you’re so dedicated to how easy it is to learn a language, type out your screed for me in two other tongues.

  51. RobC September 8, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    “A message most schools are probably copying word for word right now.”

    Hopefully without the intolerant racist garbage at the end.

  52. RobC September 8, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    But, seeing as how many posters have already addressed that bit…

    I thought the rest was spot on. Being involved in your child’s education doesn’t mean ringing the school to complain every couple of weeks because Little Precious failed the test that Little Precious couldn’t be bothered studying for.

  53. Louisa September 8, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    Graey, it’s English, believe me (as a Brit), and I agree with everything else you say; you’ve phrased it better than I ever could.

  54. Uly September 8, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    Louisa, it may be an English accent, but clicking on the link tells you it comes from Queensland, Australia.

  55. RobC September 8, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    It’s purported to come from Queensland, but good grief, can’t you tell a fake when you hear it? No school in the country could get away with having that on their answering machine (as much as they might like to), even without the racist garbage at the end. Not even in Queensland!

  56. Rich Wilson September 8, 2009 at 10:52 pm #

    As always, snopes has the scoop.

  57. Uly September 9, 2009 at 12:27 am #

    Obviously it’s a fake, RobC, the question is where it’s a fake *from*.

  58. mathew September 9, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    If it’s OK for Mexicans to move to the US and demand that things be provided in Spanish, then it’s OK for me to travel to Mexico and demand that people there speak English, right?

  59. Uly September 9, 2009 at 4:17 am #

    If it’s OK for Mexicans to move to the US and demand that things be provided in Spanish, then it’s OK for me to travel to Mexico and demand that people there speak English, right?

    Actually, Americans do that all the time.

  60. Louisa September 9, 2009 at 5:23 am #

    The accent is British English, but it is the kind of accent that many people put on as ‘English’; heck, I do it when I’m trying to impress people, instead of talking in my slightly less rounded voice. It’s the type of voice we associate with jam, cakes and the WI.

  61. Jenne September 10, 2009 at 3:39 am #

    I haven’t listened to it yet (at work) but if it has “If your child’s teacher is insisting you put your child on ADHD meds and talks over you when you call..”?

    We’re not helicopter parents but we sure did spend a lot of time dealing with the school when the teacher called *a week* after we transferred my stepdaughter into the school and asked if the girl could be put on ADHD meds.

  62. Hosea Emerich November 9, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    I’d come to recognize with you one this subject. Which is not something I typically do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to speak my mind!


  1. Don’t Expect Your School to Raise Your Kid — Technology Liberation Front - September 6, 2009

    […] [Hat tip: Lenore Skenazy at Free-Range Kids blog] […]

  2. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours… (9/8/2009) - September 9, 2009

    […] For Your Listening Pleasure […]