El Fomentador

Alive and well in Mexico…

Posts Tagged ‘Mexico City

Don’t Hate Me ’cause I’m American (if you must hate me hate me because I am me)

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A few years ago I cut an article out of The News, the Mexico City English language daily newspaper. I like The News, it disappeared for awhile and is now back in a little different style. It must have been a slow news day back then because they published the article under the heading SOUNDOFF, which translates, roughly, to SHOOTYOURMOUTHOFF. The article was written by an American student studying in Canada. It has the headline; “Don’t hate me ’cause I’m American” I added the subtitle because I’m a smart arse. You could tell he was a college student because he actually included the sentence: “Yet I am constantly castigated by your presumptuous and quotidian fulmination.”  Man, dey sure must talk funny up dere in Canada, ay?

After securely saving this article for more than four years, I recently found it folded up and tucked into a pocket in an old notebook. I’d like to share it with you today for several reasons, not the least of which is that I assume the author has finished college by now and has a real job somewhere reading dictionaries. I should add the disclaimer that I don’t have anything against this guy because he is an American. Although technically, Canadians, Mexicans and even Hugo Chavez may be considered Americans, too, since they all live in the Western Hemisphere which is composed of the continents referred to as “the Americas”. But I don’t want to quibble (I have been waiting for the opportunity to use the word “quibble” ever since I started reading the dictionary!) The New York Times style book claims that the terms “American”, “America” and the “United States” refer, in general usage, to the “United States of America”. I know that some ultra-nationalist Mexicans don’t like to hear that because their country is officially called “The United States of Mexico” (but trust me, no one gets the two nations confused) and, surprisingly, at least to me, there was, at one time, an entity called the “United States of Central America”. (But I think that last one only existed for about 30 minutes, before there were several revolutions, probably precipitated by those damn Canadians.)

The author claims to be “a rather identifiable American” although in his picture he kind of looks like a French guy and he has a very French name, let’s just call him “J. P.”. He was attending classes at a University in western Canada, which may explain why Canucks “hated” him so much–the only people Canadians “hate” more than Americans are the French. It’s like a double whammy, a French guy from the U.S! But I digress….

So I am just going to present the original article in its entirety (really, I should say, as it was originally published in The News, as I have to presume it was edited somewhat, at least I hope it was. I doubt that   J. P.  will ever see this but if he does he is welcome to offer any additional material he may feel is pertinent). The text of the article will be in red, since, for all I know, the Canadians may be Communist sympathizers, too.  Of course I reserve the right to add any smart arse comments of my own, (in black), otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

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The “BUM”ingham School of English

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This outfit has all of the markings of the classic franchise patito. Stuck into an, otherwise empty, ugly concrete and plate glass, two-story office building off a busy, cluttered street on the edge of one of the growing manufacturing cities along the industrial corridor of the Mexican Bajio it is the epitome of the penchant of the patitos for merging incompetent English instruction with shamelessly predatory business practices.https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8e/Rubber_duckies_So_many_ducks.jpg

So, of course, I went there to talk to them about working. I should add that this was nearly two years ago when I was still, as a German friend here says, an “innocent American.” At the time all I really wanted was access to an office and a classroom. I wanted to teach advanced courses in writing and speaking in English. “BUM”ingham already has it’s own “system”. The material (supplied by the franchise seller) is incredibly poor, even by the low standards of the “edu-business”. Of course, all new, bad material is required at each new “level” and is outrageously over-priced.

The “principal” offered me a job that morning, at $30 pesos an hour, (less than three dollars). I guess I couldn’t help but chuckle, and he said, right away, ok, $50 pesos per hour (less than five dollars). I started to say, well, that’s not really what I want to do…and he interrupted me to say, “It’s not much money, but you don’t have to do anything. I asked what he meant and he said the students just write in their workbooks (mostly those inane fill-in-the-blank exercises; I’ll be honest, I have trouble knowing what answer they want sometimes!) and the teacher is only there to answer questions (I’m assuming they would answer the questions in Spanish because, true-to-form, no one there spoke English, not the receptionist, not the owner, the principal (just barely), and certainly not the students.
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