My man in the education department of the Generalitat de Catalunya this lengthy lunchtime: “Why the fuck would we teach them English? Then all the smart ones will fuck off somewhere else to work less hours for twice the money and the Catalan economy will grind to a halt.” The same applies to Spanish teaching, but there are places we don’t go.
A friend from my musical days now runs SME relations for a large German bank somewhere along the Rhine, and has been closely involved in efforts to fill a wide range of vacancies at local businesses with applicants from the bankrupt periphery. The Irish: excellent; the Portuguese: poor numeracy but often good English; the Spanish: terrible English, so other skills not particularly useful, and if they fail in the particular role allotted then reassignment is difficult.
Apparently a lot arrive in the belief that German can be picked up in a few months on the (apparently excellent) intensive courses offered. But if by the age of 30 you haven’t mastered the basics of the most accessible Germanic language out there, WTF hope has your ageing brain of dealing with the curious conglomerations of sounds grunted in lands where even Romans feared to tread?
I think the mad Chomskian doctrine that Universal Grammar means that all languages must be equally complex, or something, has been quietly abandoned, so here’s Madame de Staël, De l’Allemagne:
La simplicité grammaticale est un des grands avantages des langues modernes; cette simplicité, fondée sur des principes de logique communs à toutes les nations, rend très-facile de s’entendre; une étude très-légère suffit pour apprendre l’italien et l’anglais; mais c’est une science que l’allemand.
- In which the Catalan authorities ask me to do something in Spanish rather than English
Actually, I’d better not go into the details, but it’s all most curious.
Until you recall that the vast majority of “English teachers” employed by the Generalitat are beginners (and not just in English), and that the considerable local population of infra-employed English mother-tonguers (I hope that’s not rude) are in practice ineligible to join their
- English proficiency of the Spanish relative to other nations
La Información’s reporter says that this publication by Education First, a teaching multinational with an interest in making target clients nervous, shows that of the European countries examined, only the Russians and Turks had worse English skills than the Spanish. He then left to finish his primary school geography class, and so didn’t have time to wonder …
- Una serie de articulos han aparecido
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Torygraph believes a Basque nationalist blog has misquoted a conversation between him and a Catalan nationalist journalist. Unfortunately he struggles a bit with the Spanish, and since his articles often bear a sketchy relationship to basic fact – if fisk is still a verb then maybe someone would like to employ it here – …
- The exonymy wars: Generalidad de Cataluña and Comunitat de Madrid on Wikipedia
I was amused to note that there are massive flames on the Spanish Wikipedia re the (political) rectitude of using the Spanish equivalent of official Catalan toponyms and babylonyms (eg Generalidad de Cataluña instead of Generalitat de Catalunya), but that there is no corresponding bad-mouthing on the Catalan Wikipedia re the use of Catalan equivalents …
- All our pupils go out from Sil School with really high linguistics skills
If Colegio Sil in Barcelona wants to sell its foreign language provision to any but the stupid it might want to consider employing people with relevant skills. “Could do better” doesn’t begin to describe this:
LANGUAGES AND IDIOMS THAT WE TEACH AT SIL SCHOOL
LINGUISTICS TRAINING AND LANGUAGES THAT WE TEACH
Our school develops a trilingüal metodology in