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Teaching ESL students about their own countries?

 
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Chancellor



Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1322
Location: Zibo, China (as of August 2014) - if you're willing to send me cigars, I accept donations :)

PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 7:38 pm    Post subject: Teaching ESL students about their own countries? Reply with quote

So, this ESL teacher somewhere here in the States posts the following on the ESL section of a teacher discussion board:

"I would like to do a long activity teaching my ELL
students about thier countries, some of which are not
common backgrounds in the US. Does anyone know of any good
websites/resources for this? It is the elementary level"

My question is why an ESL teacher would presume to teach English language learners about their own countries. It seems really condescending and reminiscent of Euro-American colonialist superiority.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12297
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But at least s/he spelled "thier" incorrectly.

I'm having difficulty figuring out just what this means, though:

" . . . teaching my ELL students about thier countries, some of which are not
common backgrounds in the US."

Some of the countries are not common backgrounds in the US?

Oh, maybe what is meant is that there aren't many people from those countries living in the US.

Regards,
John
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JLL



Joined: 18 May 2010
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe they meant teach the class as a whole about the various countries that its members come from. Maybe a 20-student class represents 5 different countries, and comparing and contrasting them would be the lessons and activities.

Maybe? Very Happy
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KaiFeng



Joined: 19 Sep 2006
Posts: 88
Location: At the top of the food chain.

PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I lived in Asia for more than fifteen years and started my sojourn with a couple of years of language classes. If I had been reading about life in America, especially with my instructor "teaching" me about it, I'd have wanted my money back.

Why on earth would students trying to be successful with English (and presumably resident in the states) want to focus on their own countries?

Seems quite immature and seriously misguided.
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Chancellor



Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 1322
Location: Zibo, China (as of August 2014) - if you're willing to send me cigars, I accept donations :)

PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JLL wrote:
Maybe they meant teach the class as a whole about the various countries that its members come from. Maybe a 20-student class represents 5 different countries, and comparing and contrasting them would be the lessons and activities.

Maybe? Very Happy
Even if that was the case, teachers have no business presuming to teach students about the students' own countries. That, of course, isn't the same thing as, say, having students do a presentation in English about their home countries.
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chinagirl



Joined: 27 May 2003
Posts: 235
Location: United States

PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 7:46 pm    Post subject: the original post Reply with quote

The original post was on the teachers.net site and is talking about teaching kindergarteners and first graders in an after school program. I agree that we should not teach students *about* their own countries, but I think that the original post was just poorly worded.
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Chancellor



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

PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 9:10 pm    Post subject: Re: the original post Reply with quote

chinagirl wrote:
The original post was on the teachers.net site and is talking about teaching kindergarteners and first graders in an after school program. I agree that we should not teach students *about* their own countries, but I think that the original post was just poorly worded.
Given the amount of indoctrination that goes on in government schools in America, I'm not so sure it was "just poorly worded." But there is certainly a difference between the teacher teaching about students' home countries (which is entirely inappropriate) and having students do certain activities (like presentations) about their home countries designed to encourage them to express themselves in English.
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El Chupacabra



Joined: 22 Jul 2009
Posts: 378
Location: Kwangchow

PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Teaching ESL students about their own countries? Reply with quote

I've been thinking about this question since it was posted, as I'm currently teaching EFL, but hoping to repatriate and teach ESL in my native USA someday. Technically, the ESL student's countries are all the same, the good ol' USA. But realistically every student has an immigrant past, somewhere in their family tree. Even the American Indians that our ancestors slaughtered had to have come from somewhere, perhaps the ice bridge from Siberia, who knows. . .

Anyway, it is healthy for US students to learn about other countries, cultures, languages, and historical perspectives, and in some cases they may find learning more relevant if the subject matter is more "personal". Here in China, for example, I'm using English literature written by Chinese authors (including Chinese-American and Chinese-European authors) to help teach writing. The themes of this literature require less background knowledge to understand, which will ideallly speed the reading-writing connection.

I'm teaching young adults in a university, however. This presupposes that they have already gained some background knowledge. It also suggests that these students can handle self-directed learning projects. As a native American teacher, I don't have to worry about being presumptious and indoctrinating them with my point of view.

For early elementary ESL students, the only problem I can see is that this age group may not have the background knowledge to understand the subject matter. Teachers would have to be very careful not to push their own political agenda on these developing children, no matter how well-intentioned their motives might be. Age-appropriate guided studies might be beneficial, where teachers don't transmit as much as mentor students through a discovery process. Web Quests, library visits, classroom visits from elder immigrants might facilitate this.
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gcruz



Joined: 30 Sep 2010
Posts: 8
Location: Knoxville

PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

o wow
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