Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Little Practical English Teaching For Ya

I assume there are at least a few English teachers who still read this blog, and not just sex tourists, unhappy office workers thinking of living abroad, and people who searched for "Thanksgiving porno."

So, just for shiggles, something about English teaching.

* * *
So for years we taught the students "practical English" dialogues, that usually went something like this:

"A kilogram of apples, please."
"That's $1.99."
"Here you are. Thank you!"

And text books often still carry some version of that, despite the fact that most people who can afford to study English buy their food at supermarkets where you don't have to say anything; you just get your food and go to the checkout lane, and give them the amount that appears on the little cash register screen.

A textbook dialogue these days might include some nods to modernity:

"A cappucino, please."
"Would you like a strawberry muffin with that?"
"No, thank you."
"That's $5.34. Cash, credit, or debit card?"
"Uh, cash."
"Thanks. Here's your change ... and here's your coffee."
"Thank you."

But that's basically horse-shit also; they don't really ASK cash, credit or debit, you usually swipe your card yourself. And what with Amazon and such, for a while there, it was becoming increasingly unnecessary to speak at all during consumer transactions.

Regrettably, I'm finding that has changed.

Here's a typical supermarket dialogue -- and this is true even in places like Russia, these days, at the big chain supermarkets:

(bored, irritated teller swipes all items past scanner and indicates the price appearing on the small digital screen, then asks:)
"Do you have one of our discount reward cards?"
"Would you like to apply for one of our discount reward cards? You can save 18 percent on your purchases today and 10 percent on future purchases."
"Uh ... "
"All you need to apply is a driver's license and a major credit card. It will take about five minutes."
"Oh, god (weary sigh) no, no thanks."
"Would you like to give us your email address to participate in an online survey? You can win credit for $500 of free groceries."
"NO, just, uh, my groceries, thanks. How does this credit card scanner thing work ..."
"Turn the card the other way."
"Okay ... all right, thanks."
"This code on the receipt allows you to go onto the company website, and if you sign up for an account with us, you can still get a five percent discount on your next purchase."
"Thanks ... have a nice day ... "


pfffill said...

Spot on ETX, you shud've wrote da book.

Anonymous said...

exactly. they try to get me to learn french but only the chicks pass the exams cos all the guys fuckin hate shopping, and go only to places where they can buy shit without being hassled or having to talk, including shops in their own country.

so when i come to those bullshit shopping dialogues my brain switches off...what they need is a text book for men and a textbook for chicks, which is probably the textbook they currently have.

The one for men would go like this....

Me: Hi, my car's making noises, can you have a look?

Mechanic: What kind of noises?

Me: like a 'clunk' from near the left front wheel

Mechanic: Could be a few things, maybe the CV joint.

Me: how much

Mechanic: depends....

Fuck, I would learn that shit out of interest alone...fuckin bag of apples...

Anonymous said...

I second pfffill's idea. Works for any language. I studied Spanish for 8 years, learning the cookie-cutter phrases in high school and grueling 17th century plays and poetry. Upon arriving in Argentina last March, I was somehow shocked that I had no idea what anyone was saying.