A group of 20 migrant Mexicans trickled into the classroom for “Beginner’s English” at the “Shakespeare English School” in a town in Texas. As the students settled down in their seats scattered around the room, a tall man wearing a coat and tie walked in. He made his way to the teacher’s desk up front holding a stack of papers. He looked up at the students, and said, “Hello!” The students repeated, “Hello” with their best American accents. “Very good!” the teacher said. “My name is ‘Peter Baker’.” The class said, “My..name..is… ” He suddenly stops and points to himself, “Peter Baker”. He then called each student in the class to say, “My name is..” and each one said his name.
Peter called on one student dressed in a fine industrial suit. “OK… Sir..My name is… ” Before the teacher finished the sentence, the man stoutly said with a British English accent, “What rubbish! My name is Juan Carlos II from Mexico, state of Hidalgo. I speak English very well.”
Peter stared at him with his mouth open in disbelief. “You speak English??”
“Are you daft, man? Of course, I speak English!”
“Then, why are you doing in this class for beginners and how do you speak so well?”
“My good man, when I started learning English many years ago, I knew about as little English as everyone here. I moved from Mexico to London, England on a scholarship to the “King’s College”. When I went to my first ‘beginner’s class’, I made the regrettable mistake of sitting in an intermediate class about William Shakespeare’s works. I barely understood any English but quickly realized I was a prodigy. I went on to take more English Literature classes and graduated from Oxford University.”
Peter and the rest of the class looked at Juan Carlos in amazement.
“So, why are you in this beginner’s class?”
“I’m here to apply for a teaching position here in advanced English and decided to observe a class.”
“Are you an American citizen? Do you have a “green card” to work here in the U.S.?”
“No, but it’s being handled.”
Peter said, “But sir, you must have a ‘green card’ to work in this country.”
Juan Carlos said pridefully, “I do not need a ‘green card’ to work in this country.”
“Then, you leave me no choice but to report you to the authorities.”
“You wouldn’t dare, Sir!”
“Sit down, like everybody else!” Peter said angrily.
Juan Carlos looked worried and looked around, understanding his predicament. His only response was:
“No hablo ingles.”