Opposite ends of the EFL spectrum

EFL: English as a foreign language

Today, I corrected papers for a few hours, then had a meeting with a guy that is in the interview process to become the Country Manager for a multinational company.  Quite the spread.

Papers: There are some aspects of French essays that I respect.  Namely, there is an assumption that the reader knows certain things you mention, without having to explicitly spell them out.  Other than that, I have found the essays that I have edited to be mind-blowingly bad.  The structure is like a 5th grade paper, done poorly.  It seems that the French are fond of having paragraphs start with ‘Indeed’, ‘However’ and “In conclusion”.  Plus, in their personalized pieces, they insisted on explaining how they would go about their piece.  “First, I will…” “Secondly, I will…”  Snooze.

Sure, English isn’t their first language.  But some of the stuff didn’t make any sense in any language, such as one guy’s mixed metaphor involving the jungle, sharks and bubbles of blood.  The subject was retirement in the UK.

Interview guy: It’s always odd to have a high level student after working with medium-level and lower.  Especially a guy that runs his own company, asks you to define in English words that you don’t know in French, etc.  That being said, this student and I connected.  So much so, that throughout the middle of the class we were laughing so hard that we seemed to be bothering other people in the office.

One example:  After saying various things, the guy would wink, as if to say “you know what I’m talking about”.  His interview that is coming up is with a British woman.  I explained that he probably needed to be aware that he would be dealing with both gender and cultural issues.  I said that perhaps winking constantly might not be the greatest of ideas.  His response?

I’m a player.

I quickly took that to mean that he likes to play/joke around, but also immediately cracked up, explaining that ‘player’ also meant a guy that had a lot of women.  To make the point as clear as possible, I said:

OK, perhaps it’s not great to keep winking at a woman, then when she asks why you’re doing it, smile and explain, “I’m a player.”

I imagine this was the point where our laughter pissed off the office the most.

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2 Responses to Opposite ends of the EFL spectrum

  1. meu.flutuante.casa says:

    This is amazing! I love it. What do you do, exactly? I ask because I’m interested in the possibility of teaching ESL.

  2. roniweiss says:

    I teach English through the assistantship program in France, as well as through a business English school.

    More info on my EFL experience via this interview:
    http://blog.youcanteachenglish.com/teach-english-in-france-interview-with-roni-weiss/

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