Coaches' Language

smolbean

Spectator
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
3
Hello all,

I have a MAJOR issue. I just moved, and I found out that the coaches at my new rink, not to mention the only rink in the area, do not speak English. They only speak Arabic and French. I've been skating for 3 years, and I'll be at this rink for two. I fear that this time will be wasted because I either a) won't have a coach, or b) will have a coach with an insane language barrier. Plus, I won't be able to skate too much once I move since I'll be in college and paying for skating myself.

What do I do? I'm distraught right now; there's no way in hell I could bring myself to waste these two years without a proper coach. Also, there are no other rinks in the whole country, so "weekend road trips for a lesson" are not an option.

Please help.
Thank you.
 
Last edited:

Mathman

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
37,644
I would be curious to know where you live (you display the U.S. flag), where figure skating is dominated by speakers of French and especially Arabic?

We had the same problem in the U.S. university mathematics department where I taught for many years. The graduate student teaching assistants, who were assigned to the majority of beginning level courses, were almost all Chinese. It is a big challenge for both the student and the teacher, but my advice to complaining students was always two-fold: Don't let a language barrier become an excuse for not doing your best to understand and learn.

And secondly, here is your chance to encounter the broader world where not everyone speaks the same language. Is it feasible for you to meet with the instructors one-on-one and discuss aspects of your skating verbally? People are often surprised at how well they can adapt to hearing unfamiliar speech with practice.

I have great admiration for skaters, like Yuna Kim and Evgenia Medvedeva for instance, who dare challenge themselves by immersion in a different culture.
 
Last edited:

NanaPat

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 25, 2014
Messages
2,100
Country
Canada
There's a big difference between not speaking English at all and speaking it with a strong accent. I agree that it's quite possible for students to learn to understand accented English, especially if they repeatedly hear the same accent/voice, if they are willing to listen carefully and be open-minded.

I'm not sure that any amount of good will and careful listening will enable the OP to have a discussion if there is no common language between the participants. But maybe there's an app for that?

Edited to add:
I'm a bit curious about this rink. Is it in a predominantly French/Arabic area? If so, does the poster also have language issues with other parts of their daily life, like buying groceries?
 

sandraskates

Final Flight
Joined
Oct 31, 2006
Messages
546
Country
United-States
I've seen visiting skaters at my rink have lessons via an app on a tablet. Either a parent holds the table or it's suctioned to the plexiglass.
The student executes the move and is then critiqued by their remote coach.

You'd likely need to get permission to do this and you also have to keep an eye out for the other skaters on the rink. The focus on the tablet over the surrounding skaters can get dangerous for all.

Or perhaps you could take some videos of your practices and arrange a time for remote critiques from your former coach. You pay them via PayPal, Venmo, etc.
 

smolbean

Spectator
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
3
I would be curious to know where you live (you display the U.S. flag), where figure skating is dominated by speakers of French and especially Arabic?

We had the same problem in the U.S. university mathematics department where I taught for many years. The graduate student teaching assistants, who were assigned to the majority of beginning level courses, were almost entirely Chinese. It is a big challenge for both the student and the teacher, but my advice to complaining students was always two-fold: Don't let a language barrier become an excuse for not doing your best to understand and learn.

And secondly, here is your chance to encounter the broader world where not everyone speaks the same language. Is it feasible for you to meet with the instructors one-on-one and discuss aspects of your skating verbally? People are often surprised at how well they can adapt to hearing unfamiliar speech with practice.

I have great admiration for skaters, like Yuna Kim and Evgenia Medvedeva for instance, who dare challenge themselves by immersion in a different culture.

Thanks for responding! I recently moved to Morocco, so that's why the odd combo of languages. I just found out today about how the coaches speak little English, so as for not putting in effort, there is not yet a chance to see what their English level is like. The hopeful part of me is doubting the person I've been emailing with as it seems they are in charge of the bowling alley not the ice rink.

I'm not sure about the one-on-one meetings, as the rink is still closed, but I'll look into it.

And I appreciate your positive outlook, but I've lived overseas for most of my life, so I'm not too psyched for the broader world impeding my skating improvement.

There's a big difference between not speaking English at all and speaking it with a strong accent. I agree that it's quite possible for students to learn to understand accented English, especially if they repeatedly hear the same accent/voice, if they are willing to listen carefully and be open-minded.

I'm not sure that any amount of good will and careful listening will enable the OP to have a discussion if there is no common language between the participants. But maybe there's an app for that?

Edited to add:
I'm a bit curious about this rink. Is it in a predominantly French/Arabic area? If so, does the poster also have language issues with other parts of their daily life, like buying groceries?

I have no issues buying groceries, mainly because I don't communicate much for that :laugh: Just grab, pay, and go haha. But yeah, that issue of no common language is my worry, because though they may be able to mime what they want me to do, the coach won't be able to explain the intricacies of form, mindset, position, weigh distribution, etc.

- - - Updated - - -

I've seen visiting skaters at my rink have lessons via an app on a tablet. Either a parent holds the table or it's suctioned to the plexiglass.
The student executes the move and is then critiqued by their remote coach.

You'd likely need to get permission to do this and you also have to keep an eye out for the other skaters on the rink. The focus on the tablet over the surrounding skaters can get dangerous for all.

Or perhaps you could take some videos of your practices and arrange a time for remote critiques from your former coach. You pay them via PayPal, Venmo, etc.

That's a really good idea! I hadn't thought of that :0 I'll get into contact with my old coach and see if she'd be flexible and willing.
 

WednesdayMarch

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 24, 2019
Messages
291
Country
United-Kingdom
If you're going to be in Morocco for 2 years, surely you'll be learning at least French, if not Arabic as well? So you should soon be able to communicate well with your coach and rely less on mime and phrasebooks.

Also, it's worth bearing in mind that ballet classes certainly used to be taught almost entirely in French and/or Russian so dancers have to pick up those languages or at least the technical intricacies necessary for their continued progression. Ditto for musicians. In order to read musical notation, you need to know the relevant terms in French, Italian and often Russian. Certainly many orchestral arrangements are scored in Russian, at least the harp parts are. (Yes, I can swear in many languages...)


Enjoy your continuing education!
 

Mathman

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
37,644
If you're going to be in Morocco for 2 years, surely you'll be learning at least French, if not Arabic as well? So you should soon be able to communicate well with your coach and rely less on mime and phrasebooks.

Also, it's worth bearing in mind that ballet classes certainly used to be taught almost entirely in French and/or Russian so dancers have to pick up those languages or at least the technical intricacies necessary for their continued progression. Ditto for musicians. In order to read musical notation, you need to know the relevant terms in French, Italian and often Russian. Certainly many orchestral arrangements are scored in Russian, at least the harp parts are. (Yes, I can swear in many languages...

This is a very salient point, and it is interesting the approaches that different cultures take.

I did my post doctoral work at a university in Germany. In the U.S. educational system, the assumption was that the students all spoke English and only English, and it was the responsibility of the instructor to lecture in English as best he/she could.

In Germany at that time, the convention was exactly the opposite. The renowned Herr Prof Dr would obviously lecture in his own language, be it Japanese, Greek or whatever. It was on the lowly students to get whatever they could from the experience. :laugh:

My first lecture, I stayed up all night writing it out in English and, dictionary in hand, laboriously translating it into what I imagined was some semblance of German. The day dawned, and I plunged in. After a couple of halting sentences one of the students raised his hand and mercifully said, "We all understand English, professor."
 
Last edited:

kolyadafan2002

Fan of Kolyada
Final Flight
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
696
I had a coach for a year who couldnt speak much English. It was fine, as he was able to demonstrate a lot, point, and shout.
 

Ic3Rabbit

Le professionnel d'élite
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Messages
6,159
Country
Canada
I had a coach for a year who couldnt speak much English. It was fine, as he was able to demonstrate a lot, point, and shout.

:laugh: This is how it was for me a long time ago early on with Russian coaches, until I learned the language and their english improved!
 

cl2

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 9, 2014
Messages
551
This is a very salient point, and it is interesting the approaches that different cultures take.

I did my post doctoral work at a university in Germany. In the U.S. educational system, the assumption was that the students all spoke English and only English, and it was the responsibility of the instructor to lecture in English as best he/she could.

In Germany at that time, the convention was exactly the opposite. The renowned Herr Prof Dr would obviously lecture in his own language, be it Japanese, Greek or whatever. It was on the lowly students to get whatever they could from the experience. :laugh:

My first lecture, I stayed up all night writing it out in English and, dictionary in hand, laboriously translating it into what I imagined was some semblance of German. The day dawned, and I plunged in. After a couple of halting sentences one of the students raised his hand and mercifully said, "We all understand English, professor."

Many math PhD programs in the US also have a foreign language requirement, since many of the most important math papers were written in French, German, etc. Though, math papers are increasing written in English now, so even this requirement has become more lax through the years. When I had to take the foreign language exam, I was allowed to use Google translate to translate the paper. :)
 
Top