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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Culture Clash in Classroom

In one of my textbooks I included a lesson discussing on cluture clash. I gathered some well known information, such as Thai people don't like other people touching their heads, and if you want to eat something using your hand in Malaysia, do not use left hand, etc. In the class, students and I would discuss personal experience related to this topic, and exchange stories and learn some new words and expressions.

This type of culture clash in the textbook is so obvious. And just recently I realized culture clash is an everyday experience for all the teachers who are teaching somebody from other countries.

Most Chinese people are direct, and Chinese language is a direct language. English is quite a hidden language compare to Chinese. Now direct Chinese speaking teachers are teaching not-so-direct English speaking students. I can understand better why this culture clash can have a deep impact on one's learning a new and so different language.

Chinese teachers say:"This is wrong. You should do this. I have corrected you before." Students might get a bit hurt (thinking this is the interpretation of you're stupid) and sometimes would lose interests completely. The result is teachers won't have any job satisfaction and students didn't learn anything. To avoid this problem, it is good for teachers to say:"It's quite good. If you do this, it will be very good." It will encourage students to work some more and be self motivated. And that is very important in eventually achieving the desired results. For good Chinese teachers who are teaching other countries folks, I do urge them to know their students well. Only if they know well of their students culture (not only what they eat and drink, but also the way of speaking and choice of words they use and much more), can they be good at teaching them a new language, and help them know more about a different culture, to built understanding and trust.

However, to only rely on teachers' part is not a good idea for students. The fundemental key of learning a new language well still lies within. I will discuss about this at another time.

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