Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Engrish Is Truly Frightening

I was treated to a couple of English tests during my recent proctoring gig. Always interesting.

Here’s a question:

Studying English is ________________ for students who wish to work for multinational corporations.

1. Scary

2. Worthwhile

(3. and 4. I don’t recall)

Almost certainly “worthwhile” was the preferred answer, but almost every paper, no exaggeration, answered “scary.” Which is true, I suppose, English is scary for most foreign students, wherever the student wishes to become employed someday.

Another question:

The water’s ____________________ looks beautiful when the sea is calm.

1. Surface

2. Pang

3. Compression

4. Crust

Here the common answer was “pang.” Like a sudden sharp pain or emotion?  Where would they have seen that word, and how does it apply to the surface of water? In all of the tests that I checked, “surface” and “crust” showed up one time each, and the rest were “pang.”

Honestly, I didn’t go through the tests in a systematic way. I usually just looked over the six or eight questions at the end, maybe some from the middle. To be fair, many of the questions in the brief first section were so easy that there were many correct answers. (“Joe _______ playing baseball yesterday.” Pick “was” from a list.) At the middle and the end though, I could rarely find even two correct answers out of the six or eight that I checked.

It’s a shame too, since English is Money these days. Speak it and you get more money, it’s easier to get a good job. No one who has taught English thinks it’s easy, let’s face it, English is hard. Check your own spelling and tell me I’m lying. It’s important though.

Luckily, my mom taught me to speak English, many years ago.

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