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Q: Which English Corner discussion has offended you the most?

I've had students tell me that women shouldn't have the right to divorce an abusive husband and that black people should all go back to Africa and be forbidden from leaving. When I go to work i just expect to be horribly offended at some point during the day. 

7 years 46 weeks ago in  Teaching & Learning - China

 
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Comments (18)
Posts: 1933

Shifu

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About a year ago a student, fifteen years my elder, decided that several English corners would have a new topic: his active, prostitute filled sex life; his boobie preference (his words); his age preferences, etc.
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I kind of tried to ignore him, then I tried to politely tell him to stay on topic, then I started flat-out telling him to be quiet (he was making a lot of the women in the class uncomfortable, and I had to do something). Then he went to the boss and complained that my classes weren't "conversational" enough.

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7 years 46 weeks ago
 
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When they turn decidedly political, and not from my end, either, and subjects like the Three T's turn up or a certain Western province and all the like and when then were faces in the English Corner that I never, ever saw before ... or afterwards for that matter.   Those were unpleasant and delicate moments.

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7 years 46 weeks ago
 
Posts: 15

Governor

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Personally, I've NEVER been offended by an English corner topic...no matter where it strayed. And personally I think that way kchur handled his 'talkative' student is was COMPLETELY and TOTALLY wrong.

First off- English corner is a place for them to air their personal opinions in English, no matter what the topic is. If YOU or some of your students find it offensive then it's become a good topic to debate about. Your personal opinions and outlook on life has nothing to do with your job...and as such, you need to make the best class from what you're given. You'd be really surprised at how many students actually have the same 'offensive' opinions (but don't speak up) because they have never actually LOOKED at their own opinions rationally- most are just regurgitated opinions someone fed to them.

If you have a problem with a topic...form up groups that are pro and against the opinion offered. Give them examples of similar situations but flip it around (such as not letting Chinese people leave China, or males being abused). Ask for alternative suggestions to the problem. Make them actually think about what falls out of their mouths...don't just try to shut them up.

I've been teaching in China for 8 years and I'd rather kill myself then to sit through yet ANOTHER English corner where we discuss- favorite foods, music, and movies. I'd LOVE for one of my students to come up with a topic such as 'his boobie preference'!!!! That would lead in so well with standards of beauty and the differences between cultures and even time periods. Prostitutes- GREAT! Then we can discuss things such as gender equality when it comes down to paying for sex, or what about what marriage and love mean, or even should the government control the sex trade (taxing, health services, and brothels).

If some students do not want to discuss this topic...give it a limited time, but still address it.

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7 years 46 weeks ago
 
Posts: 3339

Emperor

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"black people should all go back to Africa and be forbidden from leaving"

My Irish grandpa was at English corner?

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7 years 46 weeks ago
 
Posts: 2256

Emperor

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Every time I read a post like this, I really feel bad for you guys. Where do you work that you get these kinds of people? I mean, really? Is it because you are guy expats? I'm curious what it is about you that brings the crazies out. I've only been to the English corner at my school a few times, and there were no inappropriate discussions. All of the students are too shy, or don't know the right English to bring up such things. Or maybe they're kind of innocent too, I don't know. Every time I hear these things, I'm so happy about my sweet little students, even if a lot of them ignore me and talk in class. sad

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7 years 46 weeks ago
 
Posts: 3442

Emperor

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Jnus: I think you are on the right track; all of us have had people that want to test us out, at one time or another. Most of us have had some training as a teacher, or life experience, to know how to deal with these situations.

The ones that come on here crying about bad English Corners, bad classes and bad students are sometimes the ones that don't have this training or life experience, or the capacity to control groups of people. In most cases, these forums are able to assist in some way, even if just to put the frustration out there for discussion.

When students bring up such inappropriate topics, it is because they are showing disrespect to you personally, or testing you out. The class or English Corner is boring, and they see you as the reason, so they try to make you look stupid. In some cases, that is not difficult for them to achieve, as can be seen from at least one post above. For some people that post here, there is just no hope.

It is very simple. Tell them to drop the subject, or leave the conversation. Again, if you have training and experience, it is very easy to do this in a polite way. Or directly, if need be. In nine years in China, I have never really had a problem with this. If you cannot control the group, you should not be in the position you are in.

Some will say that you can't risk offending the students. A real teacher, or a person with life experience, would have enough confidence in themselves to not really see this as a threat to their position. If you feel you are in this position, then remember, you are there by choice. You choose to stay in China under these conditions, and you choose to stay in the job you don't like.

Yes. The people that bring up such topics, and cause disruption, are annoying. I have had it happen to me, but rather than complaining about them, I have recognised it is a result of my own shortcomings. I then looked into myself to see what it is, then tried to address that shortcoming.

Personally, I think any topic is open for discussion at English Corners, and that if handled correctly, the group will decide whether to change the topic, or to continue with it. It is the group's English corner, and we are merely the facilitators of that group.

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7 years 46 weeks ago
 
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