Snobbism in learning a language.

Learning a language is accompanied by some negative emotions, especially when the language is regarded as an international language, which you necessarily need to study for your personal success.
Today, I want to talk about snobbism behind the English language.
In Korea, speaking English doesn't simply mean that you are bilingual. It's more like a social hierarchy to some extent.
Therefore, some people might judge you by your English ability or even worse, discriminate you by your English.
I would say it's like being able to speak French in Anglo Saxon-predominating countries. While it's fancy and great that someone speaks French, some of them end up being huge dicks and annoying others. 
I met this lady at work where English ability is really important. She was my senior and a hard worker, so I initially had a positive impression of her.
She was a nice person, but a bit pathological, especially when it came to English.
I remember one time I asked her about some work related stuff and she suddenly said, "I actually feel more comfortable when I speak in English than Korean."
I was so shocked that I remained speechless for a while after hearing her say that.
Firstly, the context in the conversation didn't have anything to do with English ability. Secondly, she actually didn't sound like she was excellent in English.
She had really scary eyes when she said that, you know, the kind of eyes that homicidal maniacs make when they make false testimonies.
What could I say? I was initially disgusted, but later I slowly started understanding her, given that we tend to judge people, whether harshly or mildly, by their English ability.
Do you guys have any similar experience or opinion about it?
Let's share! :)

Jun 15, 2020 1:05 AM
Comments · 7
Jasmine, what's with that "Irish snobbism" thing I keep hearing about? Does it mean Irish has a high prestige? Do the Irish who don't speak Irish think that the Irish who do speak Irish look down on them? Care to elaborate?
June 15, 2020
Hi, Thatkoreandude

While reading your lines, different language-related stories came to my mind.

First of all, I want to make clear that I'm from Romania and 1) there is one official language here - Romanian, 2) we learn English/French/German/Spanish/Italian since quite young ages (it depends on the school), so we are known for our ability at being good at foreign languages. By the way, I am not boasting, this is just for your information, since Romania and Romanian are not that known abroad.

1) The first story is quite recent. I was supposed to teach a teenager Spanish. This girl was studying at a private English school, and her Spanish teacher was using Spanish and English during the classes. When I met her I asked her if she's ok if I start talking to her in Spanish from the very first day. She said she was ok, so I started the Spanish lesson. However, there were words that she didn't understand, so I explained them in Romanian. After the session, her mother called me and asked whether I could use English to explain unknown words in Spanish to her daughter, because my Romanian explanations were "confusing". By the way, the mother spoke to me in Romanian, but she quoted this word in English, although we do have a Romanian word for it. My conclusion? I was in shock! I don't want to teach a foreign language to someone who rejects their language because they want to be international.

2) during a conversation with a British English native, he told me "I went to Romania, I wanted to speak Romanian. I went to a coffee shop and started asking questions in Romanian, but the waitress saw that I'm a foreigner and was replying in English. I kept talking in Romanian, and she kept talking in English". He was so frustrated about this situation. On another occasion I told him "English is an international language", and he replied "If you know English you know nothing. Who speaks English? The former British colonies". Damn, this guy is so right!
June 15, 2020
Come to think of it, it's more like the other way around in my country, Estonia. Proficiency or near-proficiency in English is widespread, but it's hardly ever talked about because it's generally taken for granted.
In everyday conversations in Estonian, it's not unusual to hear English-style expressions that are actually not grammatical in Estonian, or even English words mixed up with generally Estonian speech. Yet, those people don't boast their English knowledge, and if you were to ask them, they would insist how important our native language is and how our children most certainly mustn't turn into English speakers.
June 15, 2020
My native language is Hebrew, and I work in the software industry.   Since the software industry is constant changing and all the timer there are new technologies that we should learn, and giving the fact that there are not a lot of good sources of technical articles in Hebrew, it is very important in my opinion that any good programmer that his native language is Hebrew, should be able to read technical article in another language then Hebrew. I admit that many years ago I thought that a good employee in this profession must be able to read articles in English, but I did change my mind about it. A good employee in this profession, must be able to read articles in a wide used language. It doesn’t have to be English. It can be another language that is used a lot in many technical forums and that there are many articles that are written in this language.  I don’t think that it makes me a snob. It is just that there are some languages that knowing them is not enough if you want to be able to get information fast and not wait until someone will translate an article. 

June 15, 2020
I am in shock when, here on Italki, some Russian native speakers answer my questions in the "Answer" section in English. My level is B2-C1, and I understand all that a Russian might write to me. I believe it is clear from my notebook entries and my questions which are ALL in Russian.

June 15, 2020
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Language Skills
English, Korean
Learning Language