Students worldwide unhappy
CAMBRIDGE, UK (EnglishClub.com) Friday April 1, 2011 — Foreigners travelling to Southeast Asia to teach English may soon face strict screening procedures upon arrival.
The newly-proposed measures include grammar, spelling and IQ tests, hygiene and personal grooming assessments, as well as mandatory on-the-spot drug tests utilizing state-of-the-art urine-testing kits.
The measures, proposed by education department officials in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are intended to prevent large numbers of unemployed foreigners from countries including the US, the UK and Australia from flooding the local job market in search of employment as “native English teachers”.
ASEAN is following up on its recently-announced single visa plans. Under proposed new arrangements, foreigners wishing to teach English will be thoroughly screened both before and after arrival, but once admitted will be able to teach in any of the ten ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam).
Under the scheme, TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) teachers from outside ASEAN will receive an Alien Teacher Fitness Certificate (ATFC).
Teacher representatives have reacted angrily to the ATFC process which starts with police background checks followed by on-the-spot tests at the airport that include basic English ability, drugs and personal hygiene. Brian Pullman of TEFLA (Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in Asia) called the procedure “degrading and racist”.
Anger over “inhuman” plans to vet student visa applications to UK with canines
Following a report in the EL Gazette and the recent introduction of tougher rules designed to stop abuse of the student visa system, the UK Government has completed a feasibility study to determine whether dogs could usefully contribute to the English ability assessment – an essential part of the new visa procedure – thus freeing up valuable man-hours and saving the British taxpayer up to £23,000,000 per year.
The possibility of using dogs to test language fluency was given credence in an article in the March 2010 issue of the EL Gazette (print-edition) headlined “Dog masters ESOL” (English for Speakers of Other Languages). According to the report, members of the RSPCA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) near Manchester, England had been “puzzled” [in September 2009] by a stray male border collie that would not respond to commands. After discovering that the dog had been brought to England from Poland, and did in fact understand Polish commands, the RSPCA staff started teaching it basic English commands, using a “reward-based” programme. Luke Johnson, one of the RSPCA animal care workers, described how the dog, known as Cent, became bilingual within 4 months. (more…)
Redundant languages blamed for adding to climate change, terrorism and cultural division
CAMBRIDGE, UK (EnglishClub.com) Tuesday April 1, 2008 — The United Nations is to hold its first debate on language redundancy amid warnings that the problem is “a major contributor” to climate change, a “massive threat” to international security and the cause of “rifts and divisions” within society.
Next week’s meeting is the result of an improbable coalition of interests, and follows sustained pressure from the US Administration, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program.
“We’re reacting to two very sobering reports about the impact on climate change of the huge number of languages in use worldwide,” Andrew Steiner, head of the United Nations Environment Program, told Reuters news service. At the same time Whitehouse spokesman Gordon Stanzel revealed serious translation challenges for the CIA caused by “an abundance of languages.” Pointing to the fact that terrorists typically use non-English languages amongst themselves, he suggested that only by making English the world’s “unique” language could security be assured. Asked why the world’s “unique” language should be English and not, say, Chinese or Spanish, he replied that English was already so (more…)