Thursday, November 27, 2014

Down by the English Teacher's Pronunciation with The Critical Mom

When my kids come home from school with their stories, I wonder how anyone ever learns English around here in Deutschland.  At a good gymnasium too--in fact, they're losing students because parents say they make the kids work too hard.  I don't think they make the kids work too hard . But I wish the teachers would work a little harder on their English pronunciation.  For example:
 "Guess how the teacher pronounced the word "pet," Mommy?"
As in,  "Do you have pets?"
"She pronounced it "pat." 
 I could see how that would lead to confusion .  . . with folks patting their pats instead of patting their pets.  Or even petting their pets.  Or pats.
But the one I liked the most, recently, was "Bowel" for "Bowl."  As I said to my kids, "you really would not want your bowel anywhere near your bowl."
But I do wonder, sometimes, hearing "wizards" for "whistles," and "cloth-ehhhs" for "clothes" and so on, why nobody ever uses their online dictionary, which gives you (YOO-HOOO, GERMAN TEACHERS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!) and I do mean YOU, a little recording of the word of your choice being pronounced by a native speaker.  You get to choose between British and American pronunciation.  Take the latter, it's cooler, and for your information, does not (and never did) sound like chewing gum. Actually, all ya gotta do is Google "pronounce raucous" or "pronounce espy" or even "pronounce lettuce," which I've noticed grade school teachers pronouncing "Let-oooooss."   It wouldn't hurt to go to English language websites for information about commas, either.


  1. It's a shame, but I know exactly what you are talking about.
    I have a sneaking feeling that it ties in with some broader issues you may encounter in Germany's school system... It seems to me that sometimes teaching is what people "settle for", not what they aim for.
    Wouldn't you think that one aspect of a truly inspiring teacher is to be in love with their subject? The way Joan Didion was in love with New York? And that this love would make you want to strive for a true understanding of the subject you're teaching?

    1. Wow! Thanks for this interesting comment--and I agree: alas, many students whom I encounter just think of teaching as a reliable income--a safe job. Or they've been taught since they were in third grade that British English is "better" (because the British say so). But the sun has long set on the British empire. . . .