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Education and Careers Work of any kind can get stressful at times. Ask in this forum if you need help with coursework, applications, and more.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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Educational Problem #2: Working with people who's grasp of the English language seems tenous at best - October 18th 2014, 07:42 PM

This is yet another group project.

I am working with a girl on a major project for another real life client.

This is a major problem because this girl is from India and we are attending an English speaking institution in my country (Canada). Now the thing is that she can speak English.... Sort of... She is fluent enough to be accepted into an English speaking post-secondary institution. In Canada, most foreign students who did not already attend an English-speaking school will be required to take testing to prove they can handle taking a program in English..... But frankly, her English sucks still.

It's not that I think people from India speak bad English. There are actually 5 Indian students in my class, all immigrants, and 2 of them immigrated here just 2 weeks before the start of the school year - all of them speak English just fine and working with them would not be a problem.

This girl has no idea what I am saying to her half the time. I can tell because she does not respond appropriately when I speak to her. For example, I will be talking then I'll ask a question and she won't answer me, I think it is because she didn't understand that I just asked a question. One day I passed her in the hall and I asked "how's it going?" and she looked confused so I repeated it and she said "I am going to the bathroom"... No, wrong answer, I didn't ask "where are you going?" I said "how's it going?" (so correct answer: "I'm doing good...")

Yet she won't tell me she doesn't understand me. I'll ask her "ok, do you have anything to add" or "do you understand everything" and she won't tell me that she does not understand so I cannot even begin to clarify anything for her because I don't want to repeat everything when I don't even know where I lost her or what parts she isn't grasping.

At this point, I can't even get her to do anything. The one time I asked her to do something I could tell that she didn't understand me and I don't expect to get any work done for it.

This is supposed to be an assignment done with 3 people. We only have 2 people because the class was short by 2 people for the various groups. Because everyone is already assigned to their own teams it is to late to ask the teacher to reassign someone to my group so that I have more help.

I basically feel like I am doing this project alone (even though it is something I am unfamiliar with, I need help and it was meant to be done by 3 people). The teacher already knows that this is a problem though.

I really just have no idea what to do. Its not like this girl is being lazy - if she was I could tell her to cut it out because her behaviour is unfair. In this circumstance, the fact that her English is atrocious is not something I can just tell her to stop doing on the spot.

It's really unfair that she decided to come sign up for a program where a high level of communication IN ENGLISH is expected because it isn't difficult for ONLY her - it makes it difficult for anyone who has to work with her.

But I feel really bad for her too because I imagine she is very stressed out by having to deal with the communication barrier and I don't want to have to throw her under a bus, but like I said in my other post, ultimately I have to look out for myself. It's at the point where I don't even think I would trust her to do work for our group even if she seemed to have a clue as to what is going on. And I am so busy that I don't have the time to waste by trying to be super specific about what I want when I could NOT waste that time and just do it myself instead of doing twice the work.

I don't want her to be insulted, but all I can do is do most of the work and just leave her with minor tasks that won't matter.... Like, idk, greeting people during the event and putting up posters, basically inconsequential things that she can't mess up OR that I can quickly fix if she does it wrong.

At the end of the semester we are doing group evaluations and I have to say that this is how it's going - how can I do that? She came here all the way from India, I don't want her to fail out of the program because I really do wish her the best, but at the same time I don't want her getting a grade for my work or for her incompetencies to affect my work.




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Re: Educational Problem #2: Working with people who's grasp of the English language seems tenous at best - October 19th 2014, 06:49 PM

That sounds very frustrating for both you and her!

I haven’t had any personal experience of a situation like this, but in my old school we had a Finnish student who couldn’t speak English at all, but had another Finnish student who could and they were paired together, to make things easier. We also had a Polish student, who at the start could only speak a few words of English and by the time we left school, she was fluent, but she did have a tutor to help her learn English.

Do you know if she is having any English lessons at all? Unless she has learning difficulties or is hard of hearing, to me, it sounds like she has a very basic grasp of English. For example when you asked her ‘How’s it going?’ you and I both know what that means, but I think she probably confused it with ‘Where are you going?’ It’s annoying, but you should probably stick to basic English when communicating e.g. ask ‘How are you?’ and she might be a bit more understanding.

Is she any better at reading and writing in English? You could write things down and it may help her a bit if she can see the word. Though I understand that would be more time consuming.

It’s good that the teacher is aware of this- maybe she’ll be a bit more understanding due to the circumstances? Could you also ask her about the evaluations?

I imagine it would be hard for her too, communicating with a language barrier. I don’t think she would be that offended if you only gave her those tasks to do- she may not want to do something that involves a lot of language skill and understanding, as she is probably aware of the barrier and may find it a bit daunting.


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Re: Educational Problem #2: Working with people who's grasp of the English language seems tenous at best - October 21st 2014, 05:27 PM

The problem is that I have 8 courses. It is extremely overwhelming. I don't have the time to spell out what i need her to do. It is just easier to do it myself. It just makes it 100 times more stressful to have to deal with the stress of a mjaor project + dealing with her being a fucking useless partner. If I ask her to do something and she doesn't do it because she was incompetent and unable to understand, it means i have to do it and I thus could have saved myself time by not allowing her to waste my time or slow me down.

But it seems horrifically unfair that I have to do a massive project alone because she is so fucking useless. I will not hesitate at this point to throw her under a bus. I refuse to give her credit for her work. I DO NOT care if she fails. I know that's horrible because part of me does care, but not when it is affecting me this badly.

I have just sort of decided that her deficiencres are NOT my problem. I will not treat her differently by holding her hand; if she can't keep up then she shouldn't be here, i shouldn't have to take on additional stress of dealing with her bull shit




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Re: Educational Problem #2: Working with people who's grasp of the English language seems tenous at best - October 21st 2014, 09:52 PM

Also EVERYTHING requires a language barrier - she can't do jack without needing English... And if she can't do anything with langauge this is soooooo the wrong probram for her




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Re: Educational Problem #2: Working with people who's grasp of the English language seems tenous at best - October 21st 2014, 10:05 PM

Is anyone else aware of the extent of the problem? If it’s that bad, I think the situation should be reassessed, and a member of staff should talk to her about how she is expected to cope and not be a burden to others.

It really isn’t fair on you, since you are doing extra work compared to everyone else.


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