Being an English teacher is an interesting experience, because it gives me a strange sense of perspective. The other day on television, a commercial for something or other showed a clip of the late dictator Francisco Franco giving some sort of statement or ultimatum. Generally, this image strikes fear, or hate, or general repulsion into the hearts of most, but something was different. He was speaking in English. A broken, thickly accented English so unrecognizable that it took me a few moments to realize it was even English at all. He sounded like any one of my students, struggling through a short text like a child just learning to read. I wondered what it would be like to be Franco’s English teacher, correcting him time and time again, yelling at him, “Not ‘hear-ed’….’heard’!”, chuckling at his inopportune mispronunciations, seeing the blank look on his face when I ask, “How do you say so-and-so thing in English?” It’s hard to maintain fear and control over people when your weaknesses are so exposed.
By the mighty sword of language, even the most powerful are humbled.