I’m running a B2 Upscaling class these days in completion of a client mandate. To give you a better idea of what the B2 level is, let me share with you an overview of the descriptors for the required level.

Communicative Competencies
Communicative Competencies
Sociolinguistic Competencies
Sociolinguistic Competencies
Pragmatic Competencies
Pragmatic Competencies

So this agent came to class today, late as usual, by about an hour for a 2-hour class. (This has been a particularly annoying habit, but my hands are tied due to lenient, pro-workforce company policies.) He sat down, quite defiantly, as though he’d called for the training and was merely passing through in between meetings. He nodded at me in acknowledgment and said, “Hey!” No apologies. No explanation. No courtesy of rhyme nor reason. Not ever.

This student is not a friend, my next-door neighbor, my cousin, a part of my Twitter-sphere (not that I have one)  or someone from the coffee shop that I frequent. I am his trainer. I have a name by which I ought to be addressed, and though I have no gripes about being called by my first name outside of class, I prefer and advise my trainees to address me as they should a person of authority. Different people have different takes on this, of course, but I belong to the bygone generation who would like to give spoken English a celestial hand in preserving its already compromised beauty. And it’s not just a personal preference or a matter of style or my inability to acquiesce. It’s a standard that I’ve communicated in advance. It is also one of the benchmarks of sociolinguistic competency which is one of the skills I have to develop in them.

If you ask me, that moment and opportunity spoke volumes about this student’s communicative competencies and eligibility for program certification more than any of the tests I’ve conceived for the program. This was actual and authentic. In no other way would I be able to assess how well they’re able to apply the skills they acquired than at these rare, non-manufactured instances.

It was also an opportunity for feedback. I cannot chalk it up to youthful ignorance from a crazy entitled/disrespectful hybrid that seems to be permeating society nowadays. Furthermore, I would be doing this student a disservice by not correcting him.

His absenteeism and tardiness had reached its permissible limit. Yet he had yet to communicate with me to address or even justify such inexcusable behaviour. That’s professional discourse. His inability and failure to get in touch with me with regard to the sessions and hours that he missed tells me that he is incapable of initiating, let alone sustaining professional discourse.

It is better that he learn this lesson from me now than his manager or a client who might not get him fired for your lackadaisical manner, but might think twice about elevating him to a position in the company that requires decorum.

An acknowledgment of mea culpa would have been nice. But looking at the bright side, this is why teachers should not be too quick to dismiss the power of informal assessments.


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