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Posts: 1197

Shifu

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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. 

12 years 12 weeks ago in  Teaching & Learning - China

 
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Posts: 1932

Emperor

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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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12 years 12 weeks ago
 
Posts: 1968

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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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12 years 12 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.

kchur:

I'm not going to stand there and watch a man fifteen years older than me make an "Ok" sign with one hand, to represent a vagina, and then use his index finger to represent a penis, then let his hands fuck each other wildly while he - and none of the other twenty people in the room - laughs his ass off. I had people walking out.
 

That was a business school, and I was a business English teacher. I had the responsibility to my adult students to show them what is and isn't acceptable in an American business environment, and I don't really think the wild hand fuck would have cut it. I can't imagine Warren Buffet at a shareholders meeting going "look dudes, it looks like a hoo hoo and a ding dong!!"

12 years 12 weeks ago
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crimochina:

so he should allow 1 student to drop a few stinkers and make everyone else uncomfortable to the point everyone else leaves? and english ends 10 mins after it started? (not a bad idea) but seriously as teachers we are moderators and somewhat responsible for the content of the discussion, a leaders job is to lead and not allow things to go down the crapper (YOU HEAR ME WASHINGTON DC!! MR OBAMA AND THE REST OF YOU ASSHOLES!!!) sorry i'm off my ridilin (i know it's speeled wrong)

12 years 12 weeks ago
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GuilinRaf:

I am with Kcher on this one, after all if one student is making others uncomfortable, then that student should be made aware that his or her behavior is not acceptable. Girls in China get too much "disrespect" from everyone (Chinese men, Western men, Western women, etc.) that they should have a safe place in English corner. Sexual harrasment is never okay. Now then, the English Speaker should also help guide the topics if he or she wants to avoid "sticky issues" AND the usual boring questions (do you like chinese food, what is your favorite color...). Encourage diferent topics, yes, BUT one must also have limits. Bravo Kcher!

12 years 12 weeks ago
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12 years 12 weeks ago
 
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"black people should all go back to Africa and be forbidden from leaving"

My Irish grandpa was at English corner?

crimochina:

that'll be nice as long as all the yellow women and white women come to "party" on the big horn ;)

12 years 12 weeks ago
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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

kchur:

In my case, it was isolated students over the course of years, not a day to day thing.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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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.

crimochina:

so training and experience tells you that it is always because they are trying to show disrespect to the teacher. well my experience (training is not always applicable in the real world) that a guy might be trying to show off for a girl when he does inappropriate things, or is trying to be the class clown because he feels shy or nervous. many times they do not know they are being disrespectful. many have been brought up to believe all foreigners are open and are accepting of things like this. as i stated before training does not always apply to real life situations especially if that training was some odd years ago in New jersey. ability and experience in my book are what i rely on the most. the ability to observe what is going on in the class from minute one onward. each situation is different and should be handled according to what is the source . and talking about our experiences is a sign of no training or experience? the question was which topics have offended the most? not how to handle .... sharing our experiences is a way for all of us to gain wisdom. i will never adopt the belief that i have seen everything or that i know how to handle everything. or my training 17 years ago applies to every situaton i will deal with today. reading others experiences will give me insight into how to handle a situation i never imagined or a better way to handle a situation that i have experience with. i know some people come here with the attitude that they are a legit teacher and everyone else is a fraud. but i beg this question are all legit teachers the exact same? if so i hope all legit teachers come to china so america can resume it's path to creativity and open minded thinking in the classroom. thank god for spell checker on the comments section

12 years 12 weeks ago
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crimochina:

where the hell did i get 17 years from??? 9 years ago.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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Traveler:

I also said they might be testing you out, and boredom could be a factor. You should address all parts of a post, not just the ones that suit your purpose. This is a discussion forum, not a podium in a park. It is my observation, after nine years in China, that those that are not trained as teachers are usually the ones complaining about how hard teaching is. Many untrained teachers in China adapt to the realities of life, and adjust themselves to their situation. Others realise the mistake they have made, and leave. A few, including a vocal minority on this site, want to blame the students for all the problems they have, and never see the real problem, or attempt to fix it.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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crimochina:

forgot to mention this, we must all remember that we are dealing with young people. not just young people but young people in special situations. bad things that happen in the classroom may have nothing to do with the classroom or you the teacher. their parents control their lives without teaching them how to deal with the realities of life. the biggest issues that manifests itself in my classes have to do with social issues (relationships with roommates, friends, lovers and parents). more likely than not they have no one they can talk to for guidance because this stupid "face" nonsense. plus the people closest to them are their competitors. their chinese teachers will judge them and try to force them back in line . we can not presume that any of our students have had any social training. chances are they have had their noses buried in a book 12 hours a day for 18 years. and when they get to college they are away from their parents with more free time than they've ever had in their lives. and now they must deal with some adult issues that they are unprepared for and have no one they can get real advice from.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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beaufortninja:

I smell a major superiority complex in your post. And you forgot to mention that some students here are just straight up ignorant.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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Traveler:

@BNinja: If you want to know do I feel superior in my ability to teach, as compared to an untrained teacher, the answer is simple. Yes I do. My majors, and 17 years experience, are in Education, and I use them at job interviews to show my superiority for the better jobs. As I am sure most others do when seeking new employment, or trying to convince a client that "my company is superior to the competition." Maybe you even do that yourself, on occasion. And yes, I agree with you. Most of the students here are ignorant, and uneducated by western standards. All the more reason they need trained and experienced teachers, rather than untrained and inexperienced ones. I think the students realise when somebody is not able to give them the education they need, and respond in the way they know best. Disruptive and inappropriate conduct, which is relatively easy to handle most times.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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beaufortninja:

Yeah, sure. You sound like a crackpot. Because a grown Chinese man blurts out that an abused woman shouldn't be allowed to leave her husband or that black people should go back to Africa, the teacher is somehow at fault? It's no one's fault but the student's and the environment he grew up in to think like that. Putting the blame for that on anyone else shows that you do indeed have many shortcomings that need to be addressed.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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Traveler:

Very emotive and selective in your answer, but I will try to address it anyway. Of course the student is at fault, but it is the teacher's responsibility to make sure that the fault doesn't dominate the class or group. If the students are controlling the class, then obviously the shortcomings are with the teacher. And yes, I have a lot of shortcomings, but they usually don't include intolerance, abuse or child-like name-calling to anybody that doesn't agree with my way of thinking. Which seems to be a common theme with some people on this site.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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beaufortninja:

Very droll and expected in your response as well. I can see that you're not used to people pushing back against your forced wisdom. You claim to have many shortcomings so perhaps it's best if you refrain from passing judgement on others who haven't been in the boat as long as you.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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Traveler:

I don't quite follow you. If a teacher can't control a class or group, you think it is the students who are to blame? And if they aren't trained as teachers, or similar, then they really aren't in the boat.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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beaufortninja:

Very selective response that's ignored all the previous statements. You have nothing of value to offer me on this topic.

12 years 12 weeks ago
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Traveler:

it was not a response. It was questions I was asking you, which you ignored. Forgive me if I am wrong, but did you ever formally train as a teacher at a college or university in the west?

12 years 12 weeks ago
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Shining_brow:

CHILDREN! Go to your room!

12 years 11 weeks ago
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12 years 12 weeks ago
 
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