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Teaching English in KSA sans Western cultural components
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fledex



Joined: 05 Jun 2011
Posts: 342

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Culture and religion have always been tools of colonialism and power. After all, what is religion other than a deeply imbedded cult? Language and grammar have also always been such tools. And what is grammar other than the logic of the language? Not much can be done about it. Don't teach English if you don't want to spread the culture and grammar imbedded within it, and also expect the English grammar to change as more cultures speak and write it.
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bamshaheed



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John,

I think we are losing sight of the context within which this subject was first introduced: English language instruction.

There are obviously individuals within the Saudi population that believe that Western culture does not need to be integrated with English language instruction. The initial article in this thread points that out clearly.

As I've stated several times, and no one seems to be disagreeing, there are aspects of culture that do indeed need to be discussed with students, namely cultural faux pas. There are also aspects of culture that are not vital to discuss within the context of English language instruction, namely "pop culture".

Moreover, as the English language instructor teaches the students about Western cultural faux pas, it should be incumbent upon the instructor to also learn about and avoid the cultural faux pas within the country/culture that he/she is working in.

I still fail to see the necessity for making an ESL classroom in a foreign country into "little America". In addition, English is so widely spoken around the world today that it is not at all necessary for one to speak English solely within the borders of a Western country/culture.

I find it interesting when Americans criticize other countries for attempting to keep unwanted influences out of their classrooms, yet there remains a long standing battle within the American population concerning religion in classrooms, politics in classrooms, sexual orientation in classrooms, etc.

Also, my use of the word "population" wasn't meant to contain some quantifiable measurement. I have no statistics reflecting the exact number of Saudi citizens who feel that Western culture is not an integral part of English language instruction. However, the initial article that began this thread seems to indicate there there is at least a substantial amount of the Saudi population that feels that Western culture is not an integral part of English language instruction. My mentioning of "several Saudi families" was to point out that the complaints weren't coming from the Saudi government in contrast to your previous suggestion that the complaints were somehow initiated by "those in power".

As to your comments about internet and Satellite TV, I completely agree. However, these devices are a matter of personal choice. So too should the application of the English language be a personal choice. Again, if the individual decides to use his/her English language skills to become engulfed in the wonderful world of American "pop culture" then that is his/her decision. However, one shouldn't have to be culturally indoctrinated to obtain the English language skills. It's a matter of compulsion vs. personal choice. A student seeking to learning English shouldn't have to endure cultural indoctrination to do it.

Sincerely,
Brian
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 13859
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Brian,

Actually, then, I think we agree. I spent nineteen years in Saudi and used considerable discretion in my choice of materials and manner of presentation.
I certainly had no desire to possibly put off any of my students by introducing materials or ideas that might be deemed offensive.

I also wanted to keep my job Very Happy

Of course, one problem is that so many texts DO incorporate "pop culture" and other items that might cause difficulties. But that was never much of a problem for me since I made almost all of my own materials.

On the other hand, when one considers the nearly ubiquitous infusion of Western influence via the Internet and TV, worrying about cultural colonialism in the EFL classroom does seem a little like having concerns about about how the deck chairs are arranged on the Titanic.

Regards,
John
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jaffa



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 401

PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few months ago we were chatting about car culture (which I hate) and of course the students were praising it. So I said that God gave you two legs, he didn't give you a Toyota Lexus. Most of them laughed but the bearded one (a dead ringer for Osama) stormed out telling me not to talk about "my God". When the boss called me in for a chat I said, "Well it's true, isn't it."
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 13859
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear jaffa,

You also might have brought up the fact that Mohammed never had a Lexus.

Very Happy

Actually, any mention of the Divinity is probably best avoided.

Regards,
John
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jaffa



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 401

PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saving that for the next course, John.
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intrepid traveler



Joined: 06 Feb 2013
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A colleague of mine has brought this thread to my attention. As it so happens, I am conducting research on this very topic. If you are a female native speaker teaching EFL in a government university in KSA, please consider filling out a short survey at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YJND7VS

Your input would be most appreciated and will add to the validity of my research. Thanks.
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