Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Luckily, I Don't Write With An Accent

cinderellaImage by jeloid via Flickr

Here, in Israel, everything is about accents. If you roll your "r"s in a certain way you'll be catalogued as Spanish, otherwise you can be French or tzabar (Israel - born). A certain softness in your consonants will make you Russian (oh, that and the fairness of your skin).

People form here synagogues, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, book clubs, gangs, schools and other institutions based on their accents. Sometimes, even according to the color of their skin (you know, fair - European -born, dark skin - north African and black, Ethiopian).

People here say they fight against prejudice and militate for all Israelis to stand together, but, on the other hand, if you are not able to present the right accent at a certain moment, well, you'll be shown the door...

It happened to me recently and it made me bitter, as if I needed this again...I wanted to apply for a certain job as an English teacher, but from the begining I was showed off, because my spoken English doesn't have the right accent. Here, in Israel, the highest praise for an English teacher is to be told he is an " English native speaker". The lady that rejected me so abruptly (via telephone) had every right to do so. The franchise she's got is a private one, I think, so she'll hire who ever she pleases. She doesn't work in the Ministry of Education's framework. That's fine with me. Just, for Heaven's sake, don't tell me directly to my face. It is a bit of stereotype, don't you think... In the school where I taught before I had Maya none of the English teachers were "native speakers" and their English was fluent, correct, clean. And one of the best teachers, with the best results was Irena, from Russia., and her kids were crazy about her. Yeah, I agree it is nicer to hear English spoken with that American tinge to it, but that doesn't make the teacher a good one. When I studied for my teaching certificate I had a friend from Scotland, a very nice lady and she was dyslectic. I used to help her with her papers.

Don't get me wrong! I have loads of "native speakers" as friends and they didn't express their wish to teach English, even if it is their mother tongue. They are nice ladies and gentlemen, and I love them all. It is just somebody created a false problem here...It is like my husband, who is an University graduate, would want to teach Romanian or Hungarian, just because he spoke them at home. Knowing a language doesn't make you a teacher of it. I studied for many-many years languages. If I wanted to teach Romanian in Romania, I had to got a B.A. in Romanian Language and Literature. And by the way, I have a Masters degree in Romanian and English as well. And I studied to become a teacher, as well . But that's not important, What I don't get here is the lady's attitude...The way she spoke to me made me fell, I don't know, not worthy. She didn't ask for my qualifications or references, she didn't even see me in front of a class or interacting with kids. She simply dismissed me as "not right". Well, her loss. I really wanted to try that venture because I like to teach and I like kids. I once thought in a kindergarten and had results beyond expectations. I think that is partially because I know how to lower myself to the kids' level...And I don't say the other teachers that "work for her" as she put it are not good teachers. God forbid. I am sure they are great ones. I just wanted a chance to show her who I am...All this thing made me feel like Cindarella, left outside the ballroom just because she didn't have the right clothes...

But, I'm not going to kill myself over what happened... One thing is for sure, I wouldn't want her to teach my baby English...Oh, and I am really lucky that in the blogosphere nobody can "hear" my accent...

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