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Diversity in an International Classroom
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I do a lot of exam prep too, so I have some idea of what goes in to that. But I rarely have to teach these skills from scratch. As EFL teachers, the most we do is help students to transfer these skills from one language to another - which students very often fail to do. But this is an entirely different matter from teaching students how to read or how to think. Usually, they can read just fine in their own language, but instinctively (as we do). If they cannot, they need literacy classes, not EFL. The same goes for thinking. I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to believe that learners in our type of classroom cannot think critically simply based on the evidence of speaking difficulties in a lesson.
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Nozka



Joined: 26 Feb 2008
Posts: 50
Location: "The City of Joy"

PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, thanks for indulging me.

Sashadroogie, you're right, it would be presumptuous to not consider language and transfer issues regarding the skills in question, and I will agree that that is often the only issue. But what do you do when it's not? I try to teach whatever I can, whenever I can; I guess that's all I'm trying to say.
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gaijinalways



Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 2279

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sashadroogie posted
Quote:
But maybe that is where I have been going wrong all these years. Shame on me. I don't teach them how to tell sexual jokes either, or to blaspheme or to chant neo-Nazi football slogans. Just because I'm a language teacher, doesn't oblige me to engage in communication that I find offensive, and which the vast majority of cultured people also do. Is that a presumption? A pretty safe one.


Yes it is a presumption, as well as what your definition of a cultured person is. Of course, if you don't feel comfortable explaining sexual jokes (if needed, as in students encountering them, which they might, and then asking you later to explain them) that is your decision. But you seem to mistake not doing things as a rule to apply to others who may not have your same qualms about passing on said language to students.

As an example, a high level student taking private lessons was bringing a book entitled 'Redneck jokes' (or some such title). Now I suppose in your case you would just ignore the text as 'unsuitable' language for a 'cultured' person. I simply explained the expressions to the student and of course suggested that some might be suitable for starting a fight in some places (the student was a police officer here in Japan, working in the Internet division, really).


Chancellor posted
Quote:
Since there is no valid reason for profanity (there are also those people who automatically think less of people who use it), it is not essential that students learn it in class. There are plenty of other sources available (like dictionaries) should they want to learn it. You can point them to where they can explore such vocabulary on their own.

You make it seem like the ESL teacher is there to teach their students every word in the English language and all of the various nuances of meaning that go with them. At what point do you allow students to explore the language on their own?


I think, in your opinion there is no valid reason for profanity. But in that sense, there are no valid reasons for a lot of language that we might use; slang, etc..

Hardly feel it's my duty, but rather as Nozka said and I will paraphrase a bit, I try to teach what language I can if it has bearing on language that students hear and want to understand (and possibly use).

As to students exploring on your own, do you think I'm with my students 24/7? Of course I encourage them and give them links to other resources, but we're talking about related student questions and requests, not just things out of the blue I decided students should know. And believe it or not, students will encounter 'uncultured' people in their lives, so it would be very sheltered lives indeed they live if they never ran across this type of language.

Nozka posted
Quote:
Sashadroogie, no.

But a surprising number of people do not learn critical thinking skills in any classroom, and that goes for both East and West. ........

And please don't tell me that students already know these things. A significant percentage don't - the majority in some areas, and I'm not talking about children either.


I seem to remember Sasha that you did teach in Japan previously. In Japan a lot of persuasive arguments in meetings are emotional appeals, so recognizing this is a necessary skill. Basically our students don't sometimes to understand why these same arguments don't sway Westerners generally as well as they do most Japanese.

[url]
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-emotion.html[/url]


steki47 posted
Quote:
Sashadroogie wrote:
'Just curious, but have you never heard of students going to the boss and complaining that their teacher was being disrespectful to them by using/teaching such material? Or worse again, their parents complaining? Such a sheltered life if so. '

This just happened to me at my last job. I was informed by the director of studies that a student said I talk about murder and violence a lot. Really? When? I have no idea.

Maybe I was talking about a newstory. There was a man who was recently arrested for murdering an English teacher in Tokyo.

In any case, the student complained that I made them feel uncomfortable in the lesson.


In regards to this, I have heard of students complaining that the teacher left a coke can on the table, the teacher didn't use the textbook during the semester (when it had been used almost every class during the semester) , etc.

True some student complaints do have merit, but you do have to take a lot of them with a large grain of salt.


johnslat posted
Quote:
Maybe I simply haven't taught in those "areas." but in my experience, students do already "know these things." What they often don't know is what we call them - i.e. inference and deduction.


John, they may or not have words for them in their language, but that doesn't mean that they use them on a regular basis. We have formal medical terms in English, but it doesn't mean I personally know all of them (not having a medical background) or use them on a regular basis.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deary me. With all this talk of respecting diversity in the classroom, meaning only gays apparently, here's a novel, even revolutionary idea: how about we start respecting our learners' intelligence and stop assuming that they have no critical thinking skills, no clue as to what social norms are per se, no reading skills, no understanding at all of the outside world? If teachers really believe that, based upon nothing more than some limited interaction in an EFL classroom, then I'd say they are the last people who should feel they are qualified to teach learners about respect and understanding.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12294
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear gaijinalways,


"John, they may or not have words for them in their language, but that doesn't mean that they use them on a regular basis. We have formal medical terms in English, but it doesn't mean I personally know all of them (not having a medical background) or use them on a regular basis."

"Maybe I simply haven't taught in those "areas." but in my experience, students do already "know these things." What they often don't know is what we call them - i.e. inference and deduction."

Poor, misunderstood me - I'm not quite sure how you got "they may or may not have words for them in their language" out of "What they often don't know is what WE call them." This seems especially odd since my words before that:

"Maybe I simply haven't taught in those "areas." but in my experience, students do already "know these things."

make exactly the same point that, apparently, you seem to think I'm unaware of. Students are often unfamiliar with the "technical terms" inference and implication; however, once you give them a simple example, they always (at least in my experience) can see that they regularly perform the behavior represented by those words.

But maybe I'm misunderstanding you:

"John, they may or not have words for them in their language, but that doesn't mean that they use them on a regular basis."

Assuming "them" refers to the actions of inference and implication, are you saying that there are students (or maybe whole societies) that DON'T
perform these behaviors (inference/implication) on a regular basis?
If so, I can say only that my experience would prompt me to disagree (quite strongly) with such an assertion.


Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear John

I hear you and understand you. Even when we speak Natsat or Martian!

S
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12294
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sashadroogie,

Well, that makes two people who understand me: you and my wife. And my wife understands me far too well. You can make any inference you want from that implication. Smile

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

I have not had enough critical thinking lessons from my Russian teacher, so I'm not too sure that I can make those mental leaps unassisted. But I have learnt to swear like a Spetnaz trooper. I think this will be much more beneficial if I am ever caught up in a conflict with them.

I was not a full person before my lessons, yet now that my Russian teacher has educated me about life and the whole world and what opinion to hold, I feel I have really made progress.

My Russian is still poor though...
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9299
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to pet peeves, are we, Sasha? 'Don't try to teach me to think critically!'

I actually teach a fairly large unit called 'critical thinking in English,' but I now realise that the title is a bit of a misnoner. It would be more accurate to call it something like 'analysis of linguistic and rhetorical indicators of bias, opinion, and intent in English.' Very Happy

I agree there's no place for teaching 'critical thinking' in a language classroom, and that teachers have to be quite careful to focus on the language needed to discuss controversial topics, rather than the controversies themselves. This may take a little practice and attention.

I'm able to discuss contentious issues for hours on end, without ever stating my own personal opinion, when needed Cool All the while highlighting the linguistic and rhetorical cues that indicate a speakers' intent. What fun!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And what great language teaching, as well as fun!

This is what we should be doing. Not try to culturally colonise the minds of our learners and foist our 'weltanschauung' upon them.

Yes, you are quite right - this is a MASSIVE peeve of mine. The trouble this has caused - and all from culturally insensitive teachers claiming to teach 'culture'.

Ah, a pox on them all - I'm off to study my падежи.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9299
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I doubt anyone's actually interested, but here's an illustration I use when training teachers.

We have two opposite, but equally well-written 'arguments' regarding bans on public smoking. They feature the classic structure of intro/3 main points/ conclusion, and all the 'expected' signalling language. They're carefully balanced in terms of rational/emotional-hot buttonl/fear-based/points.

I instruct 2 'battling' newb teachers to read 'with feeling.' Students vote on the best delivered argument, after analysing them for linguistic markers.

It's sometimes useful to show teachers how it's the language that is the focus - not the actual argument.

Case in point - if I read the 'public smoking bans should all be lifted immediately' argument - I always win for 'most effective delivery.' Then, it's easy to point out to the teachers later that ....uh....I don't agree with the argument. Nor do the students need to know how I feel about it.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12294
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear sporal58,

Does the "most effective delivery" also always prove to be the most "convincing delivery?"

I'm reminded of Shakespeare's "Julius Ceasar," Act III, Scene 2.

Brutus gives his very logical, well-reasoned speech, defending the assassination of Ceasar.
He's a big hit - until Anthony gives his emotional tear-jerker of a speech.

Then the crowd wants Brutus's blood.

Regards,
John
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9299
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my simplistic example, effective = convincing.
We carefully balanced them both, so that the emotive/rational ratio is equal in them.

It was - and is- fun:)

I recall the Brutus/Antony scene, but if I recall correctly, the techniques used by each protagonist were very different Very Happy

Perhaps I should abandon our concoted pseudo-debates for the Master Shakespeare's example (but I think most of our newbies would find it harder to grasp). Cool
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12294
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear spiral78,

" . . . the techniques used by each protagonist were very different."

As mentioned: "Brutus gives his very logical, well-reasoned speech, defending the assassination of Ceasar.
He's a big hit - until Anthony gives his emotional tear-jerker of a speech."

Regards,
John
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Chancellor



Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1321
Location: Zibo, China (as of August 2014) - if you're willing to send me cigars, I accept donations :)

PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Nozka"]
Chancellor wrote:
[Do they not already know how to express opinions, discuss ideas, etc.? They do speak a language of some sort, don't they? That being the case, they don't need to re-learn how to express opinions, discuss ideas, etc., they only need to acquire the English language skills so that they can take their knowledge of expressing opinions, discussing ideas, etc. and carry it out in English.


Quote:
Do they already know how to conjugate verbs, form sentences, organize paragraphs, etc? They do speak a language of some sort, don't they?
It isn't the same thing and you know it! The process we call "expressing opinions" or "discussing ideas" is universal whereas the rules for conjugating verbs, forming sentences, etc. are, for the most part, different for each language.

Quote:
From now on I'm just going to give my students the OED to memorize. That it enough should be. No?

How else do you learn how to do these things in a foreign language besides practice?

Have you ever tried to have a sustained conversation with someone who has no critical thinking skills?
It isn't your place as a language teacher to teach critical thinking skills. Your job is to teach students how to communicate in what to them is a foreign language. "Critical thinking skills" is just one of the many educational fads that come and go through the years.
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