English teacher fired for teaching about homophones

Until very recently, Timothy Torkildson blogged for the Nomen Global Language Center — an ESL school in Provo, Utah. Earlier this month, Mr. Torkildson wrote a blog post explaining why homophones can be a difficult concept for new English speakers to grasp. Then, he was fired.

In his original post entitled “Help with Homophones,” Torkildson wrote, “In English a homophone is a word that has several different meanings and spellings, but always sounds the same. The best way to learn these tricky words is to memorize them little by little…Ad is an advertisement. Add is a mathematical function.”

Torkildson says his boss, Clarke Woodger, expressed concern that because of his use of the term homophone, “people might think it talked about some kind of gay agenda.”

Torkildson’s former employer confirmed the incident in the Salt Lake Tribune. “People at this level of English,” Woodger said to the Tribune, ” … may see the ‘homo’ side and think it has something to do with gay sex.”

Torkildson worked at the center for less than three months before he was fired. He says he’s grateful to Woodger for having offered him the job.

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