Thursday, 19 March 2015

Teaching English in different cultures

As someone who has taught English as a foreign language I appreciate that one of the things you must take into account is the student's own culture values. It's important to know how these might affect their learning experience so you can tailor your classes accordingly.

Despite me knowing that this is something I needed to consider it really wasn't high up on the list of my priorities. I taught Belgians, Italians, French, Germans who, although different nationalities, all share a common European culture. National attitudes towards learning may be different but the educational differences between these countries don't throw up any major barriers in my experience.

Imagine, then if you had to teach English (or any language) to people who had completely different values to you. Imagine teaching to natives of a dictatorship where free thought and analytical expression are simply not allowed. That's just what Suki Kim did when she ventured from her home in Seoul, South Korea to teach young adults English in Pyongyang.

In the link to an extract from her book, she talks about how she struggled to introduce the idea of an analytical 'essay' to her students and how and why this made them so stressed.

Check it out here:

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