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Teaching bad language
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Dewey



Joined: 09 Oct 2003
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 3:46 am    Post subject: Teaching bad language Reply with quote

I teach at a large manufacturing company in Japan that is opening a new factory in the States. A group of assembly line workers are going to the U.S. to help launch production and the company has asked me to add lessons on swearing and racial slurs to their curriculum. The students are very low level and I'm not sure how to go about explaining this part of English to them. Any Ideas?? I don't think I'll try to teach them how to curse, but just try to prepare them for some of the words they might hear. Anyone know where I can find a good, comprehensive list of curse words and derogatory terms. I admit that I know a bunch but I'm sure my list won't be complete.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3012
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if yours is a genuine post. Very Happy

Let's assume it is: seeing as it's a Japanese venture, I doubt if many of the American employees will be stupid enough to use swearwords or racially offensive language in the vicinity of, let alone aim it at, the Japanese workers, or, if they do actually feel like being rude when a Japanese worker is present, I am sure they will be able to find more indirect ways to say things instead of the more obviously offensive and confrontational; and even in informal, "co-workers bonding over a beer after work" kind of contexts, I doubt if it will feel appropriate for those on either side to dwell on this kind of language to a great extent. Educated, professional people (and that includes - gasp! - some Americans LOL) probably want to get their points across without resorting to crude or banal language.

About the only reason for a teacher to look at bad language would be to consider what in which contexts it is used, so as to be able to find suitable alternative exponents to express similar functions in a less offensive manner e.g. a pain in the ass > a pain (in the neck) = inconvenient, a problem etc (not saying that 'ass' is that offensive, but you get the idea). There are tips of this kind to be found in dictionaries such as the Macmillan English Dictionary, and if you still really want to, you can probably search the CD-ROM for definitions containing usage labels such as 'offensive'. Wink
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joshua2004



Joined: 20 Nov 2004
Posts: 264
Location: Torreon, Mexico

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a bizarre request! But if I had to teach it, I would just find some movies with examples of what I wanted them to learn. Provide a text with the target phrases in context and watch those parts over and over again until the students could hear them being said.
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Konni



Joined: 17 Apr 2005
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 2:40 am    Post subject: Teaching Swearing Reply with quote

Is the company asking you to teach them to swear? Or asking you to teach them what swearing is? I teach my students what swear words and cultural slang mean. Along with the information that they will almost always offend someone in a way they cannot recover if they swear. It can make you look low class in some American cultures. Slang can also give a poor representation of who you are to others. Swearing may be more acceptable in other English-speaking countries, in other cultures. A company would want their employees to know where they stand in a foreign country.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3012
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 3:45 am    Post subject: Re: Teaching Swearing Reply with quote

Konni wrote:
Is the company asking you to teach them to swear? Or asking you to teach them what swearing is?


Everybody knows what swearing is, and I very much doubt that a company (especially a Japanese one) would make this kind of distinction and request the former; we are therefore looking at the latter (developing a receptive awareness in the students of swearing), which is the sort of approach the OP has said he'll probably take. I still can't see that it's called for, however: like I say, the Japanese may not even become aware of any ill-feeling, or if they do, it should be pretty obvious that the redneck waving a gun at them doesn't like them, without any need to get every last bit of the English he's shouting; then, there is the danger of "a little knowledge", of the students themselves not being fully aware of the above distinction or maintaining it in their speech and choices of topics for conversation.

A story or two: I once covered a 1-2-1 Business English class for an absent colleague. As it was the only class I was ever going to have with the client, things remained pretty chit-chatty. The student was into Tai Ji and Daoism, stuff like that, so that's what we mainly talked about for the hour or so.

A day or two later, my boss came up and demanded to know what the hell I'd been teaching the guy; it turned out that he'd gone into his boss's office and called him a c***. Shocked Needless to say, it wasn't me but the regular teacher who'd been "teaching" him stuff like that (nice guy and a lot of fun, but not a serious teacher at all, a way too laid-back artist type). I myself could see the funny side of it (even though I was a bit offended that my boss suspected I was the one who'd been totally wasting time in that manner).

Then, there was a guy that I knew from Singapore who one day took it upon himself to describe all the ins and outs of a pornographic movie to me. I listened good-humouredly until he told me where the woman "hid the bottle" - by using the aforementioned bad word. It is about the strongest word in the English language and can take your head clean off if you aren't quite expecting it, and even in this tawdry context, from a speaker of a regional variety of English (Singlish) who would be more familar with such language than a person from mainland China, the swearing was ill-judged and inappropriate (he'd have been better to keep it "light" and use the child-like word that often precedes 'cat', or failing that perhaps the medical term).

So, Dewey, it's an area that either has to be given a wide berth, or taught "in depth". You got some interesting DVDs lined up yet? LOL
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3012
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2005 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, I see that josh has supplied a few tips already for using DVDs: 'Provide a text with the target phrases in context and watch those parts over and over again until the students could hear them being said'.

Yes, it must be said that certain movies have really muffled soundtracks, or they're too loud and distort; either way, it's often difficult to hear what's being said or shouted. Or moaned. Etc. LOL. Laughing Wink Very Happy Cool
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emile



Joined: 31 May 2004
Posts: 144
Location: SE Asia

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I feel that it's a f***ing excellent idea to teach them (about) swearing. No need to be Embarassed

After all, they could get into a lot of trouble if they don't get it right. I know a story about a Chinese kid who asked for a '*beep*' in a candy store because someone told him it was a kind of chocolate bar.

Also, it is very difficult for them to catch the degrees in severity of the swear words. For example, in Turkish 'Son of a donkey' and 'louse' are like the worst things you can call someone.

Context is important, so they don't think you're making it up and having a laugh. Movies are good, but what about hip-hop, too? Just play any track by Ice Cube or Eminem.

I've got a pdf with a list of swear words defined for ESL students (in UK English). Email me if you want it. emiledodds<at>hotmail.com

I've also got this on mp3 if anyone can accept large files:

(script)

Perhaps one of the most interesting and colorful words in the English language is the word "F***". It is the one magical word, which, just by its sound describes pain, pleasure, love, and hate. In language, "F***" falls into many grammatical categories. It can be used as a verb, both transitive (Mary f***ed John) and intransitive (John was f***ed by Mary). It can be an active verb (Mary doesn't really give a f***); or an adverb (Mary is really f***ing interested in John); and as a noun (Mary is a terrific f***). It can be used as an adjective (Mary is f***ing beautiful). As you see, there are very few words with the versatility of "F***"...continued...

(LOL, some of the grammatical terms are wrong!)
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1372
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm...reminds me of some substitution exercises a few faculty made up (no, they didn't teach it to the students) (and yeah, it was probably almost 40 years ago, during the heyday of substitution exercises. ) It went something like:

What does he want? What the f*** does he want?
Where did he go? Where the f*** did he go?
Why is he doing that? Why the f*** is he doing that?

etc.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3012
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lori, I am shocked! Surprised I thought you were a nice girl and didn't know language like that! Laughing
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1372
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rolling Eyes
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Macavity



Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 151

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose bad language is sort of inevitable these days; a sad but all too true fact of life. Why should anyone actually want to learn this, though? If this is a genuine request from the company’s managers, which I assume it is, then I should question their motives. I would be deeply troubled if I were asked to do this. It is true that we, as teachers, have a duty to bring as much useful language as we can to our learners’ attention; but I believe we also have to be true to ourselves. I fail to see what positive language learning needs such a course of action would be fulfilling. What is the objective? Exposing learners to this kind of thing trough literature and other means is one thing, but actually setting out to teach it is quite another, objectionable, matter. I would refuse to be compromised in this way......as long as I had another job to go to (another sad but all true fact of life on the planet TESOL).
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3012
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, but there's a big difference between saying something unforgivable or "irretrievably bad" (e.g. swearing like Jim Carey does when he's broadcasting live and upset from Niagara Falls in "Bruce Almighty") and "simply" expressing anger, irritation, displeasure etc. If we don't investigate this functional area with a view to giving our students any "milder", more "acceptable" alternatives (e.g. that 'be a pain in the ass' > 'be a pain in the neck' > 'be a pain' that I mentioned above) AT ALL, then some of them are sometimes going to feel pretty p-ed off, yet will have no means linguistically with which to draw attention to what's bothering them (in e.g. the hope of getting things rectified).
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Amy_H



Joined: 11 Nov 2005
Posts: 53
Location: New England

PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi everybody
I'm new to the forum, so bear with me if I repeat something here that's been said a million times already. (I haven't read everything yet)

Anyway, I think including info about swearing is a good idea. While I can't anticipate how Japanese assignees in the States will react, I know how Germans tend to react. (I've been teaching in Germany for years.)

The assignees are usually quite interested in learning this very "colorful" form of English and because they don't typically learn it in their English courses, they end up latching onto some willing American colleague (typically with a vast knowledge of such language) and learning all sorts of things over a few too many beers. It's all done in fun, of course, but the result often is that the German really has no concept whatsoever of which words are fairly harmless and which can be shocking. And since this type of learning process involves laughing and smiles and fun, well, then how bad can the words really be? Or so they tend to think.

A little example of mine:
When I first arrived in Germany, I spent the first couple of months with German friends (who I'd met in the US). Their kids were under 5 at the time. While I was staying with them, I taught the kids to say things in English. One day I used the word "silly" and was promptly told by their (German) parents, that they would prefer it if I didn't teach the kids "bad" words. The next day, their father laughingly tried to get his 4-year-old to use the word f***.

Go figure. Wink

I think it would also be interesting to know just what part of the States these Janpanese assignees would be going to. Having also lived and worked a few years in the NYC area, I can tell you, as a non-native New Yorker, I was duly shocked by the frequency of, for example, the "f-word". Surprised

By the way, if you're ever in southern Germany, don't EVER call anybody a "half-dachsund"! Very Happy

Greetings from Germany
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Andrew Patterson



Joined: 02 Feb 2004
Posts: 922
Location: Poland

PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amy wrote:
Quote:
By the way, if you're ever in southern Germany, don't EVER call anybody a "half-dachsund"
It isn't anything that would be likely to do it is clearly an idiom. What does does it mean? Dachshunds are by far the most popular bread of dog here, only they call them "Yamnik".

Speaking of metaphores, the only time I use scatalogical language is with certain idioms mainly to do with money, which would not be fully understood otherwise:

a great stinking pile of money
stinking rich
rolling in it
hit pay dirt
filthy rich
filthy lucre
fork out
rake it in
splurge out
clean up

Strangely, many of them seem to be just slightly informal.


Last edited by Andrew Patterson on Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Amy_H



Joined: 11 Nov 2005
Posts: 53
Location: New England

PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Andrew

You know, I've been here for years now and the "dachsund issue" still somewhat incomprehensible to me. (They're such cute little critters.)

I only know that if you call someone a (translated) "dachshund", you're telling them they're an idiot or fool. And for some reason, calling someone a "half-dachsund" is far worse.
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