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TESL or Cultural Sensitivity Training?
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12202
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 6:15 am    Post subject: wind-up Reply with quote

You should not let renecks like me wind you up so much. But here is a question : "Why are so many North Americans and Brits in this game of ESL monolingual ?"

It is still astonsihing to me to come across people teaching EFL/ESOL who have never learnt a foreign language. And doing a course on "Cultural Differences" is NOT the same as learning how to function in another tongue and in another culture.
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dduck



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 422
Location: In the middle

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 12:28 pm    Post subject: My Spin on your spin Reply with quote

If I may add my 2 cents, I find it surprising and a little sad that people pay money to go on a course to learn about foreign cultures. Are people really that detached from real life that they need to resort to Academia when each city is filled with diverse cultures and the internet serves as the perfect medium for real contact with every culture imaginable?

As Anna Quindlen said, "Get a life. A real life..."


Iain
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Albulbul



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 364

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 3:21 pm    Post subject: Anna Who ? Reply with quote

Anna who ?

Who she ?
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Paul G



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 125
Location: China & USA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scot - I thought you had a sense of humor and could tell when someone was pulling your leg.

As far as being monlingual is concerned, I cannot speak for Brits. My main exposure to British culture has been at the Stork Club and cultural sensitivity wasn't real high on the agenda of conversation topics.

North America is a big continent with, essentially, one common language. Europe is a big area with many different languages. To travel around North America, you need to know only one language. To travel around Europe, it helps to know several languages. To visit other countries in Europe, you can hop in the car or on a train and be somewhere else pretty fast. To visit other countries from America, you have to fly across a great big ocean. (I'll leave So. America out of this equation, but I do know it's there.)

Anyway, I think that anyone with a little bit of analytical ability can see the point that I am trying to make. I am not trying to justify monolingualism, simply explain why it is so prevelant here.

When I was in school I wanted to learn Spanish. Being a California resident, it seemed like a convenient language to know. But that was not to be, I was forced to study Latin. I ultimately learned Spanish and am now quite proficient in it; but I wasted a lot of time memorizing amo, amas, amat and the like.

As far as cultural sensitivity training is concerned, the thrust of most classes is not to teach one about any particular culture, but rather to teach one why it is good to understand and appreciate other cultures. Many Americans, as with any nationalistic society, need to be taught that the way we do things is not necessarily the "right" way or the "only" way.
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TokyoLiz



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1087
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul wrote

Quote:
North America is a big continent with, essentially, one common language


Americans always forget about Quebec!

In rural Quebec, there are people whose first language is French, and they don't speak any English at all.

In Vancouver, the largest language groups other than English are Punjiabi, Cantonese and Mandarin.

DDuck wrote

Quote:
Are people really that detached from real life that they need to resort to Academia when each city is filled with diverse cultures and the internet serves as the perfect medium for real contact with every culture imaginable?


Keep in mind that not every city affords its citizens the opportunity to learn about other cultures. I feel particularly fortunate to live in Vancouver becuase there are so many cultures represented. My first teaching job was at a Chinese Buddhist temple where I taught English conversation to the Buddhist nuns. It was a great way to get started in classroom teaching, and I learned a lot about the philosophy, Cantonese language and Chinese culture.

Lots of people in Vancouver just get out there and join culutral organizations to learn about their neighbours.

Academia is not the only answer to learning about culture, but it is certainly a valuable way to examine cultural issues in depth and with the contributions of not only academics but other students, too. Sociology and anthropology have their place in society, too.
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Paul G



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 125
Location: China & USA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2003 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liz

Canadians, as well as Mexicans, are Americans (i.e. residents of the North American continent).

I forgot neither Quebec nor Mexico when making my comments, which is why I put "essentially" into the sentence about one common language. Wink

This is a bulletin board, not a dissertation. If you feel that you must micro-analyze another's comments, please read their post carefully first.
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Roger



Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 9138

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 1:30 am    Post subject: "Cultural sensitivity course"...misnomer? Reply with quote

I am beginning to get the gist, hopefully! Tokyo Liz' experiences are really enlightening! To stand in a Japanese classroom and to feign ignorance of your charges' mother tongue... To stress yourself out in the teachers' office preparing lessons you could do at home... To ignore the military marches and other displays of patriotism... serving tea to one's senior colleagues (probably all male!)...

But is that "cultur4e"? Yes, I understand that it should be a must-learn thing for any expat going there. You can safely add some cooking recipes, national holidays, how they view the rest of the world...

I only take issue with the name "cultural sensitivity". I think, a more convincing name would be "The do's and Don'ts of living in Japan", or "Etiquette and Social NOrms in Japan", replace "Japan" with "China", "Muslim World", "Israel", "Buddhist World", and you can help people settle into their new places more comfortably!

I taught in an international school in Hong Kong, and students had to study Religion. The subject covered all major religions from Judaism to Catholicism, , Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. Surely, these students were better intellectually prepared for social intercourse with members of other cultures than many of us who take a "Culture sensitivity programme". Religion has a far more defining impact on people's outlook and lifestyle than national politics do.
A sensitivity training should help would-be arrivals to focus on what they are expecting in their prospective host country: I am thinking of parents with children (can their kids integrate into a local culture?), or singles (am I going to be able to find a partner there?). Clearly, moving home to a foreign place involves mental preparations that some are unable to make! What is more, one should be aware of one's adaptability or its limitations. Don't just walk away from a broken relationship, moneylenders or bad vibes with your neighbours! Think whether your problem is going to cling to you, and whether you can accept your host society's norms!
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Stephen



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 101

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott

So, are you saying that for students who are studying English for emmigration (to an English speaking country), study overseas, or international business cultural awareness work is of no value, or are you merely criticising cultural sensitivity training courses for teachers?

Stephen
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12202
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 9:40 am    Post subject: cultural what ? Reply with quote

My viewpoint is that these courses for teachers are probably useless and certainly a poor second to actually learning something specific about another culture.
As for would be immigrants to the US or Canada or wherever they should learn something more specific about LANGUAGE and CULTURE of the country they are headed to.

For people who will teach EFL or ESOL, a good grounding in at least one foreign language is ESSENTIAL. If you have not acquired a second language yourself, how can you begin to understand language acquisition ? And the study of Latin was not a waste of time. When I am running the show EVERY EFL tecaher will have to have passed MY exam in Latin. So there : put that in your pipe and smoke it ! (as we used to say before smoking became taboo)
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dduck



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 422
Location: In the middle

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
If you have not acquired a second language yourself, how can you begin to understand language acquisition ?


One way of improving language teaching is most definitely to learn a language yourself. However, it remains only one facet of the whole. Most teachers, I hope, adapt their method according to the recipients of the lesson's responses. As they say in NLP, "if what you're trying doesn't work try something else."

To add a sound-bite of my own: teacher's learn to teach by teaching Wink

Iain
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arioch36



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 3589

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have I been in China too long? Am I agreeing with Roger too much?
I find the term cultural sensitivity distasteful as well. You can't teach sensitivity. I personally find it a PC label to brainwash people, or force them to act in a certain way. People are either sensitive to other peoples, or not. This is obvious when you read the occasional post that totally disregards the values of a society a person is in. For people that do care about being respectful of the culture of another person, you can teach them some of the "p"s and "q"s,
Such as in China, it is perfectly accepetable to stampede over men and women, children and elderly,in a vain effort to fit 100 people on a bus designed for 30. Elbows and hair pulling are acceptable. But once on the bus, it is courteous to stand up and give your seat to the woman with child that you had just flung to the ground outside the bus
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Paul G



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 125
Location: China & USA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2003 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Would not a rose, by any other name, smell so sweet?"
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