August 30, 2005

Communications Skills

Gawker has a good point about the NY school system's decision decision to scale back recruitment of teachers from overseas:

Seriously: How will they possibly succeed in college if they’re not familiar with math classes taught by those with no command of English?
It's not just math classes, though... Writing essays that can sound impressive to English speakers as well as to the non-English-speakers who grade them is a valuable skill that I didn't learn till my sink-or-swim college years. Posted by Dr. Frank at August 30, 2005 10:19 PM | TrackBack

Yes, there's a lot of truth to that. As a college math teacher with some command of English, I've had students try to switch to my sections because they "can't understand" their foreign-born teacher. These students have obviously been left underprepared by their high schools.

I hope that picture on Gawker isn't of a math teacher, but rather of a student, since there appears to be a major arithmetic error going from the second to the third line.

Posted by: Jonas at August 31, 2005 02:00 AM

Come on kid, order of operations.

I don't think public high schools are necessarily run to prepare students for college in this country. They simply provide a free extremely simple eduation where each graduating student will be able read, write, and arythmacize. Because a high school deploma (or lack their of) is such a powerful signaling tool to employers, the standards for graduation must be kept extremely low as employers (and others) need to be able to tell the difference between a person with a simple education and one with none at all.

Posted by: josh at August 31, 2005 01:11 PM

When I was in college, the incomprehensibility of the foreign-born TAs was legendary. I had a professor for first-semester chemistry who came from some country where the L and R sounds are not clearly distinguished. Eventually he had to explain the concepts "molarity" and "molality". Hilarity ensued. Poor fellow, he really did seem to think he was pronouncing them differently.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at August 31, 2005 03:36 PM