Carry Your Culture or Let it Carry You
The saying goes: When in Rome do as the Romans do. This is an excellent adage to remember when traveling to other countries. Don’t impose your culture on the people you are visiting. If you don’t like their culture then don’t visit them.
Teaching a second language is not traveling however. Students are coming to you to learn your language (English). It is almost as if they are visiting you and your culture. So what happens when second language students carry their culture into the language you are teaching? Below are some vital considerations:
1. Mutual Respect: You want students to preserve their culture and language and even compare it to the target language. When they are talking about their own language or culture let them do so freely and enjoy the differences. In fact pointing out differences makes it easier to learn English.
2. ESL/EFL: But the fact is that they are learning English as their second language. it is your classroom and your mission to accomplish the task the best way you can. English has its own personality and eccentricities. It comprises its own culture. It simply is what it is and in no way should it reflect the culture your students come from.
3. Friends not Lovers: Keep the languages as friends but do not allow them to marry and procreate hybrid languages. Avoid mergers. Teach your students to think in English from day one. Revisit thinking in English at all levels. This starts them on the right path to acquiring the target language. In fact, if they learn this core skill they will thank you when they get to university level and find they can construct complex sentences correctly. Get your copy of ‘How to Think in English‘ on the home button of this site. The book is coming out soon, but if you order quickly you may get a free copy.
4. The Universals: Remember all languages have universal needs. When talking or writing you will be doing one of the following:
1. Stating some fact, observation or assumption affirmatively or agreeing with that fact.
2. Stating some fact, observation or assumption negatively or disagreeing with that fact.
3. Asking a question (inversion required).
4. Making exclamations (these are often treated as questions but are really hybrids (question/exclamations). Students should not treat them as questions and skip the vital inversion process.
5. Giving orders or commands.
These universals should be reinforced all the way through the learning as each has its own modus operandi in English and should be strictly observed.