Do you speak United States?

I had a new student from Belgium.  Students were intrigued by him and the fact that he spoke several languages.  One of them asked him,


“You speak Germany, right?”


8 thoughts on “Do you speak United States?

  1. This reminds me of a girl in my 10th grade biology class.
    It was the day of President Obama’s inauguration, since I am in California we are three hours behind the rest of the nation, so it was around 9 am. One of the commentators, whose name I forgot (NBC) uttered somewhat off hand “It is now 12:01 here in our nation’s capital; just a moment ago the white house changed its homepage, identifying Barack Obama is president of the United States.” He had not yet taken the oath, when the girl turned around and asked me. “I thought President’s can only serve for eight years, why is Obama being made president a third time”, after I explained that George Bush was the outgoing president she asked “Ohhh, I thought New York City looked differently on TV than they are showing it here”. Confused, I ask her what she meant. She explained to me that Washington D.C. was inside of NYC. My teacher walked by and sort of chuckled. I took out a day-planner given to us by our school, which had the map of the U.S. on it, and I proceeded to show her where Washington D.C. truly was.

    Nevertheless; when she took a glance at the map, she was more shocked to find out that Canada, and not China, was our northern neighbor. My school is the largest charter school in the nation (Granada Hills Charter High School), this year we attained the highest state test score of any school in Los Angeles. It is shocking how truly some student’s just don’t care, to the dismay of the teachers, who actually care and try to help.

    I ended up having this girl in one of my classes again this year (Guitar class). I was discussing SAT test tip’s when she interrupted and asked “What’s the SAT”, a test required by most universities I said, she replied “Ohh, I won’t need to take it, I have the grades to get into UCLA”, I explained to her that UCLA requires the SAT, SAT2’s and a 3.0 minimum GPA. She told me she had taken neither SAT test, and had a 2.0 GPA, soon after, she came up with the conclusion that she will attend USC, to which I replied “Good luck”.

    Its troubling how oblivious some students really are, they live in their own world, in which they truly believe anything can be accomplished; but without any effort on their pat. That is why I chose my senior quote to be “Go ahead and dream, but don’t forget to wake up”.

  2. I remember when I was in class watching the Inauguration, I discovered that one of my classmates did not know who the previous vice president was. I thought she was joking. Apparently, though, she had never heard of Dick Cheney.

  3. I’m from Switzerland and it’s kind of scary how many times I’ve heard that question since moving to the States. That, and “Switzerland is the same thing as Sweden, right?”

    By the way, thank you for writing this blog! I work in human services and truly believe that humor can be a very effective coping skill.

  4. It’s like people who ask me if I speak Hindu. Trying to explain the difference between “Hindu” and “Hindi” has about as much of a point to it as asking Stevie Wonder to color inside of the lines. It’s just not going to happen without some sort of miracle.

    I have to wonder…are you ever able to resist laughing at things like this?

    • Sometimes I get lucky and a few of the other students laugh, and so I get away with a chuckle or two. Other times, I just have to bite my lip and explain their errors to them without laughing. Regarding the first part of your comment, I once heard a grown man ask another grown man if he “spoke Jewish.”

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