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Diversity in an International Classroom
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gaijinalways



Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 2279

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sashadroogie posted
Quote:
This is exactly the kind of thing that wears me down. It is not our job to eradicate any belief or mistaken assumption held by the learners. And yes, it is bad English teaching to point out why (you think) the belief is wrong.

For example, I think that expressing a commonly-held belief that it is mainly North-American teachers seem to feel that it is our job to teach students 'how to think' and that 'culture and language are inextricably linked' would lead to censure on this forum. For all sorts of good reasons. Is the belief wrong? Maybe. But most Brits hold it. But is this the place to discuss it? I doubt it - what good is going to come from it? So, in a TEFL classroom, this goes double.


Yes, we had this discussion before (or at least tried to). Teachers have to make their own decisions in regards to these kinds of things. If you are teaching a debate class though, I would think teaching about logic systems might play into these areas. Of course, how 'logic' functions in different societies is 'different'.
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Chancellor



Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1305
Location: Astana, Kazakhstan - if you're willing to send me cigars, I accept donations :)

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FrenchLieutenant'sWoman wrote:
There's a big difference between making people aware that others don't have that belief/what a bacon double cheeseburger is and saying 'what you think is wrong and outdated' or 'you should all be eating bacon'. There's also a fine line between what can be considered English (and therefore relevant) and what is using English as a tool for some other kind of teaching.

Let's take the subject of homosexuality. Where do we draw the line?

- Homosexuality means when 2 people of the same sex are in a relationship. It is permitted in many English speaking countries. FACT. END OF.
But if they have an equivalent word or phrase in their own language then they really don't need even this much (except there might be situations where it would be helpful to tell them the fact that it is permitted in many Anglophone countries).

Quote:
- As above, plus - in some countries it is common to see openly gay couples but in others it is still considered a taboo subject for discussion. It is often something which is accepted but not talked about (e.g. 'don't ask, don't tell' for the American military). FACT. END OF.
Again, why do they even need to be told this much if you're teaching them to speak what to them is a foreign language? That is really the question: Are you teaching people to speak a language or are you teaching foreign cultures? Being a teacher of English to speakers of other languages suggests you are teaching people how to speak, listen, read, and write (i.e. communicate) in English. Teaching cultures is only marginally relevant (e.g. the cultural basis for American idioms).

Quote:
- As both above, plus - there are gay rights activists in many countries. What do you think they are trying to do? Do you think homosexual couples should be allowed to marry each other? Do you think people who are openly homosexual should be allowed to hold positions of public responsibility (teachers, gay bishops...)? INTERESTING DEBATE BUT COULD GO VERY WRONG
And entire irrelevant to teaching students how to communicate in what is to them a foreign language.

Quote:
- As above then - What do you think about homosexuality? Is it right or wrong? NO WAY, DON'T EVEN GO THERE
Agreed. Their opinion (and yours) about a particular non-language issue is irrelevant.

Quote:
It's easy to see how it would spiral out of control once you start introducing an opinion or a debate. People can have strong opinions without a teacher bringing up controversial subjects!
And they - like the teacher - should keep their opinions to themselves when they're in the classroom.
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fladude



Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 432

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

steki47 wrote:


I teach in Japan and there are certain topics I just avoid. WWII-the Basil Fawlty Rule. Whaling, Koreans, etc. Some of my advanced (and well-read) students bring up topics such as economics and politics. I have enjoyed those conversations, but also had problems. The student disagrees with my ideas and complains to the staff. Sounds silly to you and me, but it happens.


Why do you avoid the topic of whaling?

I ask because my students talk about whaling all the time (when they come to class anyway). I can't avoid it in class. I have explained to them that I really don't think whale meat tastes all that great, especially not Muktuk. But at the same time, I appreciate the high protein content of whale meat and don't turn it down when its offered.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8607
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chancellor wrote:
But if they have an equivalent word or phrase in their own language then they really don't need even this much (


Spot on! This is akin to the basic error novice teachers make when trying to teach vocabulary - they try to teach the students what the thing is. Except on very rare occasions, we only need to tell learners what the word is in English, and not the basic concept underlying the word. They have the concept. They probably even have a word for it in their language.

Again, we only teach language - we are language teachers, not moralists, career guidance teachers or social workers.
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 653
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fladude wrote:
steki47 wrote:


I teach in Japan and there are certain topics I just avoid. WWII-the Basil Fawlty Rule. Whaling, Koreans, etc. Some of my advanced (and well-read) students bring up topics such as economics and politics. I have enjoyed those conversations, but also had problems. The student disagrees with my ideas and complains to the staff. Sounds silly to you and me, but it happens.


Why do you avoid the topic of whaling?

I ask because my students talk about whaling all the time (when they come to class anyway). I can't avoid it in class. I have explained to them that I really don't think whale meat tastes all that great, especially not Muktuk. But at the same time, I appreciate the high protein content of whale meat and don't turn it down when its offered.


Well, if you personally eat whale, then I can see you can share with the students. Kinda funny, considering all the Western opposition to Japan's whaling.
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gaijinalways



Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 2279

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Why do you avoid the topic of whaling?


Why avoid any topic? Of course, if it will cause you to be terminated, as some people have stated that work or have worked in the Middle East, by all means don't make yourself redundant. But otherwise, it shouldn't be difficult to have discussions about various topics as practice. For those PC advocates, give neutral or vague opinions if you're 'afraid' to give your own.


frenchlieutenant'swoman posted
Quote:
Quote:
Let's take the subject of homosexuality. Where do we draw the line?

- Homosexuality means when 2 people of the same sex are in a relationship. It
is permitted in many English speaking countries. FACT. END OF.


Chancellor posted in reply
Quote:
But if they have an equivalent word or phrase in their own language then they really don't need even this much (except there might be situations where it would be helpful to tell them the fact that it is permitted in many Anglophone countries).



Yes there are situations where it would be helpful assuming they are planning to ever leave their own country (if they haven't done so already Rolling Eyes ).

Quote:
- As above then - What do you think about homosexuality? Is it right or wrong? NO WAY, DON'T EVEN GO THERE


Chancellor posted
Quote:
Agreed. Their opinion (and yours) about a particular non-language issue is irrelevant.


The ESL/EFL opinion 'police' have returned Rolling Eyes .
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8607
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I'd say that the 'opinion police' are the ones who want to 'correct mistaken beliefs'. The position that everyone's politics or religious values are best left outside the classroom door doesn't quite fit that bill.

As regards helping learners who are planning to travel to an English-speaking country, all well and good. But imagine a teacher who felt that learners needed to be aware that, say, in the UK people drive on the left, and then gave a full lesson detailing all the intricacies of how to drive, wouldn't you think that the language classroom was the wrong place for that? Note, I don't mean an English lesson on the vocab related to driving ( perfectly valid), but more a driving seminar. I think most of us would see that as a fundamentally flawed EFL lesson, or am I being too generous?

Similarly, it may be helpful to inform learners that English-speaking people may swear on the street. It could be helpful to explain the social consequences of using such language. But I would seriously question the validity of a lesson whose aim was to teach students how to swear in English, or more pertinent to this thread, to teach what swearing is. My reluctance to deal with such material is not because I am somehow 'afraid' of it - it is because I really do not think it is my place, or any other language teacher's, to do so.
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 653
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie wrote:

Similarly, it may be helpful to inform learners that English-speaking people may swear on the street. It could be helpful to explain the social consequences of using such language. But I would seriously question the validity of a lesson whose aim was to teach students how to swear in English, or more pertinent to this thread, to teach what swearing is. My reluctance to deal with such material is not because I am somehow 'afraid' of it - it is because I really do not think it is my place, or any other language teacher's, to do so.


It's always a curveball for me when a student asks me about dirty words. I realize they watch movies, but it still stuns/amuses me when they about "the 7 words".

I generally skip over the meaning and just explain that it is a strong words used in anger, etc. And advise them to avoid using it.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9127
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We once had a large group of Russian Exxon staff in Canada to study language. They were divided into three groups, with three different teachers. One Monday morning we all got the same request: what words can get us knocked out in a bar?

We all taught 'em without question - it was clearly a genuine need to know situation.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12021
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear spiral78,

Well, for heaven's sake, TEACH ME. I'm ALWAYS getting knocked out in bars.

And while you're at it, can you teach me how to pick up girls in bars (and I DON'T mean this: first, bend your knees and squat, clasping your arms slightly below the subject's posterior.)

Very Happy

Regards,
John
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9127
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the basic rule of thumb to avoid being knocked out is to never mention anything related to mothers in a bar Very Happy

Pick ups; I can't help you - on your own, like my students:)
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8607
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Come to Moscow! The girls all have handles and don't require lines. And then you can observe my lesson in my class where we debate/explore/discuss the topic of prostitution and then role-play a foreign teacher in a bar meeting a hard working girl ( oh where to put that hyphen?)

I can tell you it is all pretty diverse and will knock you out...
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 653
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Besides the teacher's choice of words and topics, has anyone else noticed the PC/mulitculti influence in some EFL texts?

Here in Japan I have used texts that talk about househusbands, male nurses, etc. Some of the pictures show male secretaries and female managers.

None of this is wrong or even inaccurate, but some students seem a bit puzzled or shocked by this. Or some assume that's how all Westerners live!
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Justin Trullinger



Joined: 28 Jan 2005
Posts: 3110
Location: Seoul, South Korea and Myanmar for a bit

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And now, the words responsible for most in bar knockouts:




"Thank you, I'll have another."





Well, it always used to be one of the last things I'd remember saying.


Justin
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12021
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear steki47,

Yup - it's the "overboard" or "the pendulum swings too far in the other direction" syndrome.

SIde by Side 1B is especially guilty. Males do all the housework, and the ladies are all truck-drivers and baseball players.

Regards,
John
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