(Scene: between classes. Evenshine is pouring herself her second cup of coffee as classes let out and students change rooms. Enter, stage right, Adult English Grad Student- AEGS, who explodes from a room where she just finished teaching a grammar ESL lab, followed by a stuttering Chinese student- SCS).

Stuttering Chinese Student: And…he….tell- he tell me he…not feel good, sick…he not come–

AEGS (without turning- bellowing): SPEAK TO ME IN COMPLETE SENTENCES!!!

(Evenshine’s face drops into a mask of disbelief, as she turns from the coffee maker to leave the room, giving the AEGS a wide berth. She knows this grad student. She’s been warned before…)

SCS: I….he told me- yesterday…he say to me he…not feel good, he sick. Want handout. She- he say he–


SCS: Ummm…yes…ok.

(Evenshine scuttles along, trying to reach the door before her shocked face in sympathy with the Chinese student is noticed, as the SCS dashes out through another door, stage left.)


Evenshine: Excuse me?


(Pause. Should she answer or not? Evenshine recalls similar incidents when the AEGS has spoken harshly to other students, and to Evenshine herself. She remembers how hard it is to learn a second, or third, language. She thinks of the look on the SCS’s face, of desperately trying to make the words work. She looks at the AEGS. Oh, it’s ON.)

Evenshine (taking a deep breath): Well, generally, first, I try and look people in the face when they’re speaking to me. Students deserve no less respect than anyone else. Looking at the student when he’s speaking to you indicates to them, no matter what their first language, that you are interested in what they have to say, and that you are patiently waiting for them to answer your question.

(Pause. AEGS didn’t seem to expect an answer, and now that she has one, is shocked into silence).

Evenshine: I also make it a rule to give non-native speakers longer to answer than I would with native ones. Their English language ability is usually in the process of scaffolding from their L1, so their cognition might be delayed a few seconds longer, and thus the compensation in the form of stuttering. Some students, especially Chinese, are also bound by cultural rules which usually prohibit or restrict their interaction with the teacher, as a form of respect. So I usually give them….

(Silence. The AEGS has turned midspeech and stalked from the room, without another word. Evenshine stands alone, with her cup of coffee, wondering what the *&%# just happened. She later sees the AEGS leaving the Director’s office. Stay tuned to see if Evenshine loses her newly-appointed position….)


This entry was posted in academia, intercultural, language and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Ahhh….academia

  1. Thanks for taking a stand for ESL students! I can’t believe that! You had better not lose your job…but that grad student needs a new assignment, like shelving library books.

  2. KathyB! says:

    That just make me furious! If anyone loses a position it should be the pompous AEGS. I can’t imagine that anyone could *not* see how wrong she is. But then there’s a lot of stuff in this world I can’t imagine, so who knows…

    Fingers crossed, evenshine.

  3. Evenshine says:

    UPDATE: Went to the boss’ office, explained the situation. Boss supported the AEGS unwaveringly, saying that everyone has “different modalities” of dealing with students, that I was wrong to feel offended, and that I needed to speak with the AEGS. Turns out they’re good friends. Crap.

    UPDATE 2: Sent an email to AEGS, saying that I was at her disposal to discuss the incident. Received no reply.

    UPDATE 3: Saw AEGS in the hallway, whereupon she tried to ignore me. I mentioned the email and that I’d like to discuss the incident. She said she didn’t want to, that I insulted her, that I think I’m so much better than her. I apologized if I had made her feel that way, but she wouldn’t let me finish my sentences and continued down the hallway, saying that I should stop apologizing to her, that she didn’t want to speak to me, etc.

    So mad and upset that I’m shaking and crying.

    Who treats people like this???

  4. myra36 says:

    That AEGS is a poor excuse for a human being. You are in the right. And, a hundred times better than that piece of turd.

    Don’t worry, karma is a bitch.

  5. amy2boys says:

    I’m so sorry evenshine. She sounds absolutely nasty! I’m stunned they are letting her get away with such behavior. She said to drop it, so hopefully you can do exactly that. I’m so sorry!

  6. incognitomom says:

    Yikes, all I can say is mean people suck. Sorry you have to deal with this. You know the old saying … what goes around comes around … here’s hoping it comes around to the AEGS soon.

  7. antropologa says:

    That totally blows man. I can’t believe it. You did everything just fine, though. Hopefully it’ll blow over. Very unfortunate way to start off! Just avoid the crazy bitch.

  8. ck says:

    I’m so shocked I don’t even know what to say. When I read this post yesterday I was sure it was going to end with that teacher getting canned. I cannot believe 1) her behavior was acceptable 2) YOU got in trouble and 3) she acted so middle school about the situation. Seriously? Who are these people?

  9. Gibby says:

    Stick to your guns, Evenshine. You did nothing wrong. Funny, it sounds like you are stuck in elementary school, not a college setting. Can we ever get away from the madness? How sad.

  10. Ink says:

    Good for you, Evenshine! Taking a stand and schooling that person…brava.

  11. Limonpartido says:

    Wow…wow…absolutely shocking, I think you did the right thing and the AEGS is a coward and an imbecile, who would treat ANYONE like that, anyone, regardless of the cultural and language barriers……. and you would have felt badly if at least you did not address…. que tristeza….

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