Friday, December 11, 2009

learning english?

I happened to hear Radio Ceska's English lesson this morning and I may never be the same.

I stopped what I was doing to write it down, dictation-style, and I present it here to see if you find it equally disturbing.

It's a conversation between an unidentified man and woman (the point, apparently, is to teach the phrase "to look at"). You hear the sound of babies cooing throughout:

Man: Look at the twins.

Woman: I can’t tell them apart.

M: Which one do you like better?

W: The one on the left.

M: Why do you like her better?

W: She seems more friendly.

M: What makes her seem that way?

W: I’m not sure.

M: Look at her eyes.

W: Oh yes, her pupils are bigger!

M: Now watch as I shine a bright light in her eyes.

W: Her pupils just got smaller!

M: Yes, and she seems less friendly. Next time you meet somebody, look at their eyes and see if the size of their pupils changes.

Is it just me, or does this sound like "Learning English with Dr. Mengele" to you too?

I don't know which is creepier - the fact that the man asks "WHICH ONE DO YOU LIKE BETTER?" or that the woman HAS AN ANSWER.

They finished up by illustrating the difference between "to look" and "to watch." An admirable goal, but why do it this way:

M: Stop talking and look at this photograph.

M: Stop talking and watch the action in this film.

I was half expecting the whole thing to be punctuated by slaps. The funny thing is that I had been considering suggesting these English lessons to an analyst at my place of work, who actually does need to brush up on his understanding of "to look at" (I asked him to "have a look at" a report I'd edited and he responded by email that he would "take a vision on it.") I've reconsidered, however. Lessons like these would have him telling me to "stop talking" and gauging my dislike of him in the size of my pupils. And we CAN'T have that.

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