The GEC Blog

Culture + Adult Learning + Technology

Seeking your cultural stories!

If you were educated outside of the United States, what was it like the first time you took a course in the U.S.? What was different? What was confusing? What did you like or dislike? We’d like to hear stories from non-U.S. learners!

October 4, 2013 - Posted by | Culture and How We Learn


  1. I am from the Eastern Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, and I came to the US with an Honors Degree in English Literature, and History(2nd Class) from the University Of The West Indies.. No one in my area (Southern PA)knew what that meant. My degree, taken in three years as is standard for British universities, confused hirers, who were unsure that mine was a “full degree”. We got UNESCO to validate that a dregree from The University of The West Indies, in the 1960’s was the equivalent of a degree from Oxford University, of which UWI had formerly been a college.Everything I did was wrong. My spelling, my punctuation, my pronunciation. I still live with that though I have learned to adopt American spelling for American readers, and English spelling for other correspondents.
    Just recently, a woman in a group we share was reading aloud. She pronounced the word “trough” as “Throw” Automatically I said ‘Trough rhymes with cough’. She insisted she was right. I was of course right but I have learned that to send an e-mail of the volume, page, column and citation from the OED would ceate a breach. I left her to mispronounce a word that threw off the rhyme pattern of D.HLawrence’s “Snake.”
    Perhaps if I was a European looking person, this accent and way of being would have been easier to swallow. In the 1960’s and early 70’s, a highly educated foreign African woman was too much! Its become easier for subsequent immigrants, both with people who look like them, and others.

    Comment by Linda E. Edwards | October 8, 2013 | Reply

  2. With respect to the words through, cough, etc., I think you’ll enjoy and appreciate this video (once you get past the commercial):

    In American English, I often hear ‘trough’ pronounced “trow” so there’s room for variation! Andrea

    Comment by edmundsona | October 8, 2013 | Reply

  3. For anyone interested in stories like these, visit the GEC discussions on LinkedIn, as well. I requested that members view the videos on the homepage that document what new learners in America experience. I then asked them: “Do the videos I’ve added make the point that we need to consider CULTURE of the end-users in training and educational events?” Your input is welcomed! Andrea

    Comment by edmundsona | October 11, 2013 | Reply

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