Thursday’s article, “English proficiency levels vary among teaching assistants,” does not provide a balanced overview of either foreign-language teaching on campus or teachers whose first language is not English. By focusing primarily on a Korean assistant instructor, living for the first time in the United States and teaching a Spanish-language course, the author has chosen the most exceptional, extremely rare, case rather than the norm.
The article also makes the assumption that assistant instructors from other countries should be familiar with not just American but Texan customs and dialect. The point of foreign language study, on the contrary, is not just to teach a skill but to familiarize students with other cultures and, at the same time, make them aware that local customs are exactly that — local. Finally, language courses are routinely taught as an immersion experience in the target language — in this case, Spanish.
Had I been contacted for an interview, I could have provided The Daily Texan with much of the above information.
Jill Robbins / Chair, Department of Spanish and Portuguese