Friday, March 29, 2013

Reasons The UNC Language School Should Leave Teaching English To The Natives

I've spent the last seven weeks attending classes at the language school at the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, and I’ve been going out of my mind because of the incompetence of the professors here. Their failed attempts to mimic a British accent makes it difficult to decipher what the hell it is they’re trying to pronounce.

The textbooks have several errors in the simple present and past-present sections, but the professors follow the textbook blindly, probably because they have no idea what they're doing.

I actually had a teacher’s aide attempt to tell me how to pronounce the word chocolate. The man can’t even speak English properly. It’s extremely difficult not to get upset in these courses.

My spouse actually joined me as an observer for a couple of weeks. He was stunned by the unintelligible pronunciation of the professors and the various mistakes in the textbook too. After a while, he got so upset and frustrated with the professors that he chose not to go with me anymore. 

The professors have virtually no knowledge of the history or culture of either the U.K., or the United States, which makes explaining slang terms and the different ways to pronounce words almost impossible.

I stuck around long enough to try the final exam of the “cursillo”. The instructions for each section were completely unclear. I took it twice and they failed me twice. I was able to see the exam when they gave me my results. They marked things that were correct with an x. If it hadn’t been so laughable I would have cried.

I had to write a sentence with the word "news", but in the form of a countable noun and an uncountable noun. I couldn’t write a sentence with the word news as a countable noun because it isn’t possible. The only way the word news becomes a countable noun is if you alter the word to something like newspaper, which I had to explain to them, but they simply rolled their eyes at me.  

Then there was a short passage about the city of Cuzco. In the passage, it stated that tourists can travel amongst ancient roads and colonial buildings. Then, on the true or false options, there was one statement that said, “Tourists can travel amongst ancient roads and modern structures.” I circled that this statement was true, but they marked it wrong. I fought with the grammar professor and a teacher’s aide, but no one would agree with me. 

I was also marked wrong when I had to identify the antonyms for words like bored and selfish. For bored, I chose excited, but they claimed that was wrong. For selfish, I chose selfless instead of unselfish. I checked several dictionaries. Excited is one of several antonyms for bored. Selfless is a near antonym for selfish and, according to my College English Comp teacher back home, it’s perfectly acceptable.

Then I had to write a short story about a terrible experience on a bus. I was marked wrong because I wrote the sentence, “I will never ride on a bus again.” The professor marked the sentence in red letters with a big x, a circle, and three question marks because I wrote on, and not in a bus. Seriously? You ride on a bus, not in a bus, I argued, but my argument fell on ignorant ears. 

But just to prove to you I'm not crazy. This is the piece of an article written by the Miami Herald, a reputable South Florida newspaper. Notice how they used on a bus, not in a bus.
Click on the hyperlink if you want to confirm the source of the article. 
They also told me they didn’t like any of the sentences I wrote because they were too complex. I’ve never attended a university where too much knowledge was bad. The grammar professor stated that my critical thinking skills are too advanced for the cursillo, and that this is the reason I was having a hard time passing the exam. Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous in your life? Not only am I a writer, a damn good one too. I’ve written novels and blog entries. I’ve always excelled in reading comprehension back home. I explained to my college English comp teacher from the States how I was marked on the exam and she agreed with me. I only wish there had been some way I could have flown her here to explain it to these incompetent professors.

Recently, a Facebook friend, who is a fourth-year student at the language school for English translation, wrote the words, getten (I guess he meant getting), rainen (I guess he meant raining), and scramballed (I guess he meant scrambled), in one of his posts. This student told me he wants to work for the British or American consulate someday. I didn’t have to heart to tell him how difficult that would be with such poor grammar.

Now that this seven-week nightmare is over, I’m starting to think that when I do officially apply to the university next year, I'll choose psychology as a career program. In the meantime, I’ll have to get my U.S. diploma and transcripts validated at the Ministry of Education in Buenos Aires, but that’s a headache for another blog entry. 


  1. Hi my name's Julia and I'm really happy I found your blog. I was raised in NY and moved to Lima, Peru 4 years ago. In June I'll be moving to Cordoba, and I was thinking about possibly attending the Uni there. It sucks that the English classes are that bad!!!! I was taking English here (Lima) to become a teacher and I was met with a tiny bit of the same problem. but it wasn't near as bad as what you've experienced. that must've been really frustrating. Anyhow I'll definitely keep reading your blog. psychology is also something I'm interested in. I hope it goes well for you!

  2. Hi Julia,

    Thank you so much for reading my blog. I think you'll love Cordoba. I definitely advise that you to find a place in or near Cordoba Capital or Nueva Cordoba as these areas have plenty of shopping centers, businesses, the university ... etc. It has more of a city life to offer than other regions in Cordoba. I also advise that you get all your diplomas and transcripts apostilled so that you can attend the university here. I ran into some problems doing that when I got here. Feel free to ask me any questions.

  3. I was an international student from the U.K. and last year I attempted the cursillo. I couldn't stop laughing at the mistakes the professors at the Language school were making. I feel sorry for the poor souls that will graduate with this degree. If they ever try to come to the States or the U.K. with this broken knowledge of English they'll be in for a rude awakening.

  4. I suppose a translation degree in English from Cordoba's University is just a starting point for many students and will certainly help many people get by but is definitely not designed for speakers with English as a mother tongue so I understand your frustrations. Buena suerte con Psicologia!