Extracts from “Autobiographical jottings: Misconceptions about Global English and how it should be taught”
An essay by Brian Yorke Deakin
Old age may mean being a fool for longer than younger people but it can mean having more experience and learning from this experience. Supposing the latter to be true this essay will begin with an account of some highlights in my long career as a teacher of English to foreigners in three European countries: France, Italy, and Germany.
After I was demobilised and had completed my degree course at the University of Manchester and had obtained a teachers’ diploma there, I decided to go to France, I was lucky enough to get a post in Paris at the Lycee Pasteur in Neuilly (for a pittance). The normal one-year stint I managed to prolong eventually to a third year as assistant
d’anglais at the Ecole Normal de Saint Cloud (for a similar pittance). The young men I taught at St Cloud were preparing their final exam as aspiring teachers of English, the
Agregation d’anglais, and I’m afraid this exam they all failed. My initial dismay was soon followed by a resolve to get to the bottom of something I knew was unjust; they were all bright lads and tough a few might have failed, most would have passed.
Then something happened which turned my resolve into a thirst for revenge. In those days a “correct” version of the translation from French into English was published and it contained more than twenty mistakes in English. I felt compelled to do something about this and I did. I sent a list to the President of the Board of Examiners and threatened to inform the press of the injustice. The heavens fell. Although triumphant, I felt rather alarmed.
The wise old bird M. Desclos, head of the College Franco-Brittanique where I lived, sent for me and warned me that if I persisted, the entente cordiale would be destroyed. So, weakly, I did not inform the press and in return I obtained a little but not very much; no “correct” version would be published in future and there would always be an Engli-
shman on the board of examiners. But my students were not given another chance.
There had been an Anglo-French skirmish earlier at the Lycee Pasteur when I was sharing a class with a teacher. One day the class had been struggling to translate a piece of Dickens into French when the teacher, M. Carpentier, author of the well-know textbook L’anglais vivant suddenly handed me a book saying “would you be kind enough to translate that passage of Descartes into English for us, Mr Deakin.” I did my best but the result was not good. “You see, boys,” said Carpentier, “Mr Deakin has his problems too.” I smiled rather sickly smile and the lesson continued. Before long M. Carpentier of L’anglais vivant made a mistake in English which I corrected politely. Then he made a worse mistake which I corrected more forcibly. Finally a rather flustered M. Carpentier of L’anglais vivant made the worst mistake of all but before I could correct it the bell went. As the boys filed out they smiled at me cheerily. I felt quite sorry for the author of L’anglais vivant but he never forgave me.
The next stage of my continental adventures took me to Italy. An English exporter of English books realised that to sell these books in Italy he had to teach Italians English. So, though not a teacher himself he opened a school in Milan, the British School. His name was Howard Scott and his wife was Fiammetta Sforza, daughter of the Sforza who had been Italy’s foreign minister. I obtained a post as teacher at a salary that was hardly princely but better than the pittance in France. I managed to learn a little Italian on the train but not enough to understand that “cabinetti” was not the name of a place but the word for toilet. My ignorance of Italian didn’t matter for the direct method which excluded the learner’s Language was all the rage. The textbook we used was Eckersley’s Essential English and the only thing I remember about it was the following joke:
Englishman to Italian: “Can a dog sit on a seat in an Italian bus?”
Italian: “No, it can’t.”
Englishman: “oh, in England it can provided it doesn’t put its feet on it.”
As the direct method is still flourishing perhaps it is time to demolish it once and for all. Here is a definition:
“A method of teaching a foreign language, especially a modern language, through conversation, discussion, and reading in the language itself without use of the pupil’s language, without translation, and without the study of formal grammar. The first words are taught by pointing to objects or pictures or by performing actions.”
(Teaching and learning English as a foreign language by Charles C. Fries,
University of Michigan Press, 1945.)
I did not take long for working teachers to find out that a much easier and more effective way of teaching a foreign language was with the use of the pupil’s language, with translation, and with the study of formal grammar. The experience of Anna Leonowens is typical of many. When the Welsh governess was employed to teach English to hundreds of King Mongkut of Siam’s wives and children she found she had to learn Siamese straightaway. The idiocy of the direct method is clearly indicated in the following example from English on the way shipboard course for a new Australians (1945):
Point to yourself and say “I”. Repeat slowly and deliberately three or four times. Bring one student to the front of the class. Face each other so that you are both side-on
the class. Point to yourself and say “I”. Guide his hand so that he is pointing to himself and, by pointing to your lips and his, get him to say “I”. Encourage the whole class to
point to themselves and say “I”. Stand with the class facing the same way. Write “I” on the blackboard. Drill the class several times.
When teaching a class of Italians it is easier and quicker to say “io.” But on shipboard the students may be of different nationalities. Nevertheless the class cannot possibly know what exactly is being pointed at: lip, student, mouth, face, man, tie, woman, shirt, etc.
The direct method theory is an example of careless thinking, special pleading, and concealment of the truth which is not far from lying, the truth being that it is much
more profitable for the textbook publisher who can sell his books everywhere and for self-appointed organisers of exam tests who can collect vast sums from all the conti-
In spite of having to cope with the shoddiness of the slow direct method I enjoyed my job at the British School. I worked well with Howard Scott who taught me to be a business-man as well as an academic. I became first the Director of Studies and then President and was able to put my stamp on the flourishing school. One way in which I did this was in the appointment of staff. It was not difficult to recruit staff locally in Milan. If the applicant was American I would take him on because Americans seemed livelier and much less diffident or snobbish than the British. This seed developed into a conviction I still hold-we must teach Global English rather than British English for our students to cope successfully with the modern world. This policy helped me in a battle which soon developed with a competitor, a rival school run by an official organisation, the British Council no less!
The British Council was founded in 1934 to promote overseas knowledge of the English language and of British life and culture. There is no reason why they should not
organise language courses to supplement inadequate government funds. All the same their rather superior attitude caused resentment in non-official schools. Perhaps they
paid their teachers more than the less breeds. Very much later they decided to concern themselves with language assessment for which they had no mandate and little com-
petence. For personal reasons I left Italy and the British Schools Group and returned to England where I obtained a post at the BBC in English by radio and TV, as senior producer.
One of the programmes I developed there embodies the idea which had become a conviction in Milan; the teaching of foreigners should be firmly based on the student’s native language and the translation mistakes he makes. So I collected students of different nationalities, arranged they should make a typical mistake and then correct it. Here at the BBC in London was the origin of the book I wrote later in Italian: Right or wrong? La tua guida all’inglese perfetto
Unfortunately the BBC salary was quite low, the call of Italy was too strong. After a couple of years of exile I obtained a post in Verona at the Oxford School.
The owner was totally different from Howard Scott. He was no business-man and he just opened schools leaving the running of them to the various directors he appointed. His chief defect was that he always spoke in a whisper as if afraid of expressing himself. Worse than that he was an alcoholic, which he managed to conceal at first.
At the same time he was kind and helpful to others and had the usual English sense of humour. He left me on my own in Verona (he lived in Venice) to deal with the highly
competitive situation. A rival school was calling itself the University of Cambridge when it was merely the representative of a section of the university organising exam tests for foreign students. This organisation, now called Cambridge English Language Assessment, replaced the British Council as my chief enemy. We couldn’t call ourselves University of Oxford though the magisterial dictionaries of Oxford University Press did far, far more for the language. But I found a better way of neutralising competition. I obtained a part-time post as lettore at the new university in Verona which had recently been set up as a branch of the University of Padova.
My superior was Professoressa Anna Maria Crino, a cultured but rather eccentric Florentine lady who gave me a free hand to do most of the work; the journal L’Arena
described me as “un professore per 1000 studenti”.
One of my duties was to give oral exams, at which I was often the sole examiner,
which were not planned, and which were nearly the same at all stages of the student’s university career. The idea was to see if the student could carry on a conversation in
English without making mistakes. Faced whith this ill-defined ordeal some students tried to bribe me with presents beforehand, jars of English marmalade, even expensive
sets of records, all of which I refused to accept. I learned with a shock that the life of a lettore was fraught with moral worries and even physical dangers. Illustrated by two letters I received. The first said in Italian “if my daughter fails again in an oral you will go to England in a coffin.” I leave you to decide whether the daughter did fail again. The second disgusted me but didn’t frighten me. It was from a professor of English in another university who counted on me to see that his daughter did well in her exams. This time I reacted more bravely. I told him his daughter would be treated like all the other students. I can’t remember what I was paid for all this work except that it was quite inadequate. So the day I dared to write to the Preside and ask for a rise. The only result of the letter was that Barbieri told me he could do nothing and was ashamed.
Is it surprising that I was compelled to find other ways of keeping the wolf from the door? With the assistance of Miss Crino and published under both our names I compi-
led an Anthology of English and American literature, a Key to the critical questions (in the anthology), a Short history of English literature and style, and a Short outline of British history. Students were expected to buy these works though their relevance to the various courses was not apparent. Late as it is I would like to apologise to the students who suffered from the rather chaotic programmes of study. I am sorry because YOLO as the imaginative Americans say, You Only Live Once and if your teachers let you down, you can’t have another chance. In spite of the hard work and the many problems, I was enjoying life in Verona. How wonderful it was to be in sunny Italy instead of foggy Manchester with such delightful, fully alive people, to be almost part of centuries of European civilisation. How could one not fall in love and be fallen in love with in this modern version of the Grand Tour?
I don’t think I was unpopular with the students but they didn’t like it when I outwitted them, when I told them frankly they had copied their theses for example, or when I was
overseeing an exam with hundreds present and before the beginning I asked innocently “Can anyone lend me an English grammar?” Many hands went up. “Come on, bring them to me: You’re not allowed to take books into exams.” Of course if I had been in charge of the department or if I had known then what I know now I would have done more to help the students than I did. Many of them were quite as intelligent as I was, perhaps more, and tried to see the light in the confusion of a new university. One of them, a certain Enrico Calabrese, gave me some radical suggestions about his course which I kept and now reproduce:
Suggerimenti per i corsi d’inglese nella facolta di Lingue all’Universita di Verona
1. I corsi dovrebbero essere organizzati in modo che sia gli studenti che i professori sappiano esattamente la materia da studiare e in che cosa consisteranno gli esami:
2. Al corso biennale dovrebbe essere dedicata piu attenzione e dovrebbe essere svolto in un modo diverso da quello quadriennale dal punto di vista degli esami e
3. II primo anno, che adesso pretende dagli studenti, (anche da quelli che non sanno una
parola d’inglese) uno studio profondo di poeti come Spenser e Dryden dovrebbe essere principalmente linguistico. In modo che alia fine tutti abbiano una buona conoscenza della lingua prima di prendere contatto col vecchio inglese letterario. Sarebbe piu
giusto verso quelli completamente digiuni di inglese, o non ammetterli affatto al corso universitario o limitare il programma del primo anno ad uno studio principalmente
4. II programma linguistico deve essere compilato e libri e metodi moderni dovrebbero essere adoperati registratori, dischi, films, e tutti i nuovi metodi audio-visivi.
5. Lo studio della letteratura inglese dovrebbe essere non soltanto una traduzione meccanica dall’opera in italiano, ma un insegnamento della critica letteraria e di come
apprezzare lo stile di un autore e di come rendersi conto dello sviluppo storico della poesia e della prosa.
6. La letteratura dovrebbe non soltanto essere un insegnamento della critica, ma uno studio nel suo fondo economico, sociale, filosofico e storico.
7. Nel 1° anno, la sola lettertura da studiare dovrebbe essere la moderna per rendere lo studio letterario piu vivo e per non creare confusione linguistica.
8. Occorrerebbero piu assistenti e fra questi almeno un assistente dovrebbe essere italiano per dare lezioni sulla storia della lingua e letteratura in italiano. Naturalmente
questo assistente dovrebbe avere una buona conoscenza dell’inglese. Giovera molto agli studenti del primo anno a livelli diversi, I’ascoltare lezioni nella loro lingua.
9. I libri di testo dovrebbero essere scelti per ragioni puramente accademiche.
10. Tutto lo studio della lingua e letteratura inglese dovrebbe essere non uno studio puramente accademico, ma rapportato alia cultura e alia realta dell’lnghilterra
11. Non e possibile programmare una facolta d i laurea in inglese senza tener conto della lingua e letteratura inglese in America.
12. Per gli esami, ogni studente dovrebbe sapere esattamente in che cosa consiste I’esame. L’esame scritto dovrebbe includere il comporre ed essere piu vasto.
La traduzione dovrebbe essere fatta assolutamente senza dizionario. (Gli studenti ai quali si e ben insegnato non necessiteranno dell’uso del dizionario). Per I’esame orale,
dovrebbe essere stabilito se tutto I’esame o se soltanto una parte dovrebbe svolgersi in inglese e di conseguenza determinare esattamente la parte.
13. La biblioteca deve essere arricchita. I libri di testo dovranno sempre contenere note e sarebbe di grande aiuto per gli studenti la pubblicazione di dispense.
14. Dopo aver iniziato lo studio della critica letteraria, esso dovrebbe occupare un posto importante negli esami sia scritti che orali.
15. Lo studio della letteratura inglese non dovrebbe assolutamente essere uno studio mnemonico dei fatti. Soprattutto bisognerebbe evitare la situazione ridicola nel-
la quale gli studenti riescono a passare gli esami avendo letto le opere inglesi soltanto in italiano.
16. Lo studio della letteratura dovrebbe essere reso il piu interessante possibile, tramite recitazione di poesie, rappresentazioni teatrali, confronti con altre lingue e lezioni
di professori inglesi e americani di altre universita.
I didn’t dare to show the suggestions to Miss Crino. Another thing I should have done to help students and at the same time to help myself was to persuade Miss Crino to
choose subjects for theses which were not insuperably difficult. Nevertheless, there were times when I thought I might have a career as a professor in an Italian university, if bet-
ter organised than Verona. But Germany beckoned. After France and Italy I felt I must have the German experience and find out if Germans were as wicked as Nazism see-
med to imply. They weren’t and they aren’t. I became an Augsburger and I still live in Augsburg where I have written this essay.
By the time I left Verona at the end of the seventies English was recognised as a global language and the European Union was in full swing. When the EU published an
English style guide it decreed that British English should be used, without being able to define the differences with American English except in spelling. It is obvious that Glo-
bal English needs to work out a detailed definition so that everyone know where they are. A commission should be set up with academic authorities from all the major English-speaking countries to outline the fundamental character of Global English. The commission should be permanent like the Academie frangaise. The work of the above commission would put an end once and for all to the colossal misconception “USA versus UK, two nations divided by the same language.”
The witticism belongs to the time at the end for nineteenth century when upper-class Englishmen turned up their noses at all Americans except the rich heiresses
they deigned to marry. After alliance in two world wars, after the irresistible influence of TV and Hollywood, after recognition of the many triumphs of American literature,
the situation has completely changed. Now there is an increasing interchange of vocabulary, colloquialism, and slang. We enjoy making fun of each other’s speech. As
in the time of Shakespeare both sides appropriate words from other languages-tsunami for example. Often people don’t realise that an expression is British or American in
origin. There is indeed a special relationship between the two countries which includes language. But Europeans don’t like it. They try to come between us. Stop trying, please. You can’t separate twins.
By the way, an outline of the proposed commission’s work can be found ready made in The right word at the right time: A guide to English language and how to use
it, published by The Reader’s Digest Association (1985).
Compiled by many distinguished linguists it has sections on American English, Australian English, Canadian English, English round the world, South African English, and West Indian English. The proposed commission would no doubt include a section on Indian English. The notes indicate when a word or expression is wrong:
– doubtful or informal usage-think twice before using this
word or construction
– inappropriate or non-standard usage-avoid if possible informal contexts
– incorrect usage-avoid
One of the courses I took in Ausburg at the Volkhochschule (an adult education institute found in most German cities) was entirely my idea and was very popular, It was a course
of film lectures. A local cinema agreed to show films in English of famous literary works before which I would give a short lecture explaining the story and perhaps a few unu-
sual words. In this way many great writers and famous books were brought a little closer to foreign culture-vultures, from Shakespeare and Shaw to Wuthering Heights and
A streetcar named Desire, and many others. The events were open to the general public as well as students of the VHS but if the latter were advanced students of mine they
had to write a short essay afterwards on what they had seen and what they thought about it. What a relief for students to practise English so enjoyably after they dreary
grind of learning to pass exams which were of little use of them. What a relief and a pleasure for the teacher too!
My own novels and plays were of more concern to me in Ausburg than the situation of Global English but I was still interested in the misconceptions which bedevilled it.
The chief of these and in my opinion the most deleterious was the phenomenal growth and influence of the exams produced by the Cambridge ESOL (English for Students
of Other Languages) now Cambridge Language Assessments (Camb. Lang. Ass). The idea behind this was that a group in Cambridge could decide better than the schools
and universities of their own country whether a student’s English was good or bad. Private schools realised this was a godsend and if they promoted these exams they would
obtain more students, and the battle to become Cambridge exam centres was fierce. In their annual review of 2011 the group trumpets its success: “By the end 2011 the
number of universities and colleges, commercial organisations, and government departments that officially accept Cambridge English exams had grown to over 12,250.” It is time to puncture this self-satisfied balloon and enquire what supposed advantages have so bowled over so many organisations (before long no doubt the Vatican will join
the throng) and what drawbacks have been concealed.
The following list of facts is disconcerting:
1. The exams and the textbooks published to prepare the exams cost money so it is difficult for many to take part without sacrifice.
2. The idea than pass helps one to get a job is nonsense. There aren’t enough jobs to go round. In any case much more than an exam pass is needed to get a job.
3. No bachelor titles are awarded, not even a “BA failed” to show that at least they had tried.
4. The exams and textbooks are almost entirely in British English whereas Global English is what most students will encounter.
5. The method is the old discredited direct method; but one cannot ever master a foreign language if one hasn’t learned to translate it from and into one’s own.
6. To pass an exam does not mean you can speak or write English, merely that you can answer exam questions, not real life questions.
7. There is no longer a paper on English literature which there used to be in the past.
This is a very good reason why the British Council, far from collaborating with Camb. Lang Ass. should take a more critical attitude. It will be obvious from the above that in my opinion the Cambridge Language Assessment exams are largely a waste of time and money and by totally excluding native languages they impose a spurious uniformity on all nations involved. What is more they have overshadowed or even replaced the vitally important exams testing translation ability from and into native languages in schools and universities.
In Italy therefore I am convinced that if it does not exist already, an exam corresponding to the agregation d’anglais for aspiring teachers in France should be set up with an English or American academic (not a lettore) on the board of examiners. And translation should be an integral part of university foreign language courses and tested
in the final exam.
One more example of typical publicity is enough to reveal the emptiness of the claims and makes one doubt the value of the whole project. “Learn Cambridge English
and see the world…Get a Cambridge English certificate for work, travel, and study.” You can see the world perfectly well without their certificate and while English itself
may be needed for work, study, and travel, Cambridge English is not. It is a strange idea that young Italians can’t attract foreign girls on their beaches without one or two
certificates in their trunks!
In 1937 F.R. Leavis, a distinguished literary critic and lecturer at Cambridge exposed the manifold deceptions of advertising in his Culture and environment: The training of critical awareness by F.R. Leavis and Denis Thompson (Chatto & Windus, 1942). Leavis must be turning in his grave. My own attitude to Cambridge English advertising can be found in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 when Glendower is talking to Hotspur:
Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man, But will they come when you do call for them?
That quotation ended the question for me. Poetry often brings harmony when one is angry or depressed. Yet in the watches of the night there came insistent whisperings.
Vast sums of money are being made by these assessments all over the world. Who is getting it? The plight of the English language had been laid to rest but the plight of Verona’s university hadn’t. On June 18, 2012 the International Herald Tribune published an aggressive article “Left vulnerable, foreign language teachers in Italy fight for equality”. A poem by the great poet Thomas Hardy indicates what I felt:
I travel as a phantom now,
For people do not wish to see
In flesh and blood so bare a bough
As nature makes of me
(I was 89 on May 13 2012)
And thus I visit bodiless
Strange gloomy households often all odds,
(The University of Verona)
And wonder if Man’s consciousness
Was a mistake of God’s
And next I meet you, and I pause,
(You = the students)
And think that if mistake it were,
As some have said, O then it was
One that I well can bear!
The foreign language teachers are the “lettori” who “have long been responsible for the bulk of foreign language teaching and examining in Italian universities,” It is gross in-
justice, I wholeheartedly agree, if they are not adequately paid. But it does not seem to have occurred to anyone to ask a more fundamental question: Are language lettori
needed in universities? In my view they aren’t. There are many ways now of hearing, speaking, and learning English through the Internet, TV, film, the BBC, and visits to
English, speaking countries. The lettori are not needed as examiners either; this right must not be ceded by the Italian staff.
Here we come across another misconception which Italians seem to accept without question (because Fascism left them with a sort of cultural cringe the Australians
were supposed to suffer from) – the misconception that native English speakers understand their language better than others because they speak it naturally. Perhaps they do now but we didn’t when I was a lettore. If there are no lettori, who will do the oral exams as well as other exams? The Italian staff? But do they know English as well as the native speakers? Probably they know it better: Native speakers know as much about their language as breathers know about the functions of their lungs. How on earth can this problem of exams be solved? Of oral exams that’s easy. There won’t be any. In a university no language lettori, no oral exams. Why not? What is wrong with orals?
1. Unlike written exams they are nerve-wracking for students.
2. The examiner’s English might be unfamiliar to the students.
3. The examiner’s speed of speech might be too fast. And by the way my speed of speech has always been slow. My nickname at school was either “Dicky-bird” (Deakin) or “slowtalker”. Any success I had as a teacher was due to the fact that the students understood my words but perhaps not their meaning!
4. The student’s hearing is being tested, not his English:
5. The exam questions were not planned but just whatever occurred to the examiner.
6. How did the examiner grade the answers?
For example the answer to the question “Do you smoke?” might be “Yes” or “Yes, I do” or “Sometimes” or “Never.”
Which answer gets the best or the worst mark?
7. It is not clear what is being tested. Pronunciation, grammar, syntax, or expressiveness, etc. All or which?
8. No preparation except the normal course was necessary for the Cambridge Assessment orals, either, but details of their oral exams are so complicated, time-ridden, and based on complex pictures that on is doubtful about their value. The best oral exams, the simplest and easiest for both examiner and candidate, are the meeting between one examiner and one candidate.
9. The candidate doesn’t know whether variations of tone (irony, humour, counter-questions) are good or bad.
10. A personal statement: I don’t think I have ever taken an oral exam and I can make myself understood in French, Italian, and German. I studied French at school (Manchester Grammar School) and university (Manchster University) but there were no French “lettori” at either school or university: The first Frenchmen I saw in Manchester were the soldiers who had been rescued after the Dunkirk catastrophe.
By this time linguists must have thought of better ways of learning English than taking oral exams. Cato the Elder learnt Greek when he was over 80. I wonder how he did it.
There were no Cambridge Assessment exams in Rome. The famous French poet Verlaine discovered when teaching English to French boys in France that it helped if he
made them speak French with a strong English accent. Similarly I suggest Italian students should be made to speak Italian with a strong English accent. I didn’t know this
when I was in Verona. I did know that phonetics was very important in learning English pronunciation but I was in no position to insist. Another thing I didn’t know, which I rea
lised on preparing a second edition of my book Right or wrong? Was that misprints were not only very amusing but teach spelling pronunciation and vocabulary at the same
Many new universities like Verona have been set up since the war and there is no doubt there will be many more. But there have been few attempts to define the purpose and function of a university, a failure highlighted by the pathetic support of Cambridge Assessments and others who have merely tried to establish whether a student is good enough to go to university. Yet in the thirties the Spanish philopher Ortega y Gasset in his brilliant Mission of the university set down three functions:
1. the transmission of culture
2. the teaching of the professions
3. scientific research and training of new scientists
The transmission of culture means conveying the principal ideas behind present-day society enabling man to live “at the level of his time and more particularly at the
level of the ideas of his time.” The function of the university is not to get jobs for students or teach foreign languages, and necessary reform should come not from state to uni-
versity but from university to state. Towards the end of the 1960s American university teachers and students protested in thousands against Johnson’s Rollin Thunder bom-
bing campaign in Vietnam. In 1968 no university teachers joined the students’ protests. Was the Italian government above reproach?
To return for a moment to the article of June 2012 we must note that lettori’s demand for job equality was also an attack on Italian universities. The besetting sin is nepotism but there was also the slur that the Italian staff were not too proficient in English. Apparently the goal of the lettori was to change the culture of Italian universities.
In my opinion this attitude is arrogant and unacceptable. If there is anything wrong with Italian universities it must be dealt with by Italians and not foreigners. To make a suc-
cess of the European Union one must respect the culture of all the members and frankly it is not polite to insult your hosts when you are guests. How different was the attitude
of the USA in 1942 when the authorities instructed servicemen in Britain not to criticise but try to understand the country where they were guests.
English is a wonderful language, one of the richest, and as it is rich, so it enriches life. There are few aspects of human nature it cannot express. Its literature, its poetry, its drama, bring understanding and enjoyment. It can castigate sin and foster virtue. It can articulate the roar that lies on the other side of silence. It is demeaning, it is a crime of ignorance, to reduce it to being a mere provider of work and a vehicle of examinations.
Augsburg, December 2013