ESL Jobs - ESL, EFL, TEFL, TESOL Teaching Jobs
  • FREE Weekly ESL Jobs
  • ESL, EFL, TESL, TEFL -- Get weekly updates of the Hottest New Jobs direct to your inbox as well as easily apply to new openings!
  • Enter your Email:

ESL Jobs Forum
"Where New and Seasoned ESL Professionals Come Together To Network . . . Share. Listen. Learn."

 FAQIndex    FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups      RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

The Ethics of TEFL

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    ESL Jobs Forum Forum Index -> Open ESL Expert Discussion...
View previous topic :: View next topic  

Are ESL Teachers Unknowingly or Unwillingly Contributing to Economic / Cultural Imperialism?
No, that's the craziest thing I've ever heard.
25%
 25%  [ 1 ]
Who doesn't contribute to the imperialistic agenda of someone? Grow up, this is how the world works!
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Yes, it's a deliberate evil plan and must be stopped!
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Supply and demand folks. How can you argue against a demand?
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
This question is loaded. I'll give my own opinion below.
75%
 75%  [ 3 ]
Total Votes : 4

Author Message
sophieczka



Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 5
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico and Grinnell, Iowa

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:50 am    Post subject: The Ethics of TEFL Reply with quote

Hi.

Do you ever wonder whether by teaching English as a second/foreign language to people all over the world, you are slowly killing away the many beautiful languages and cultures on the earth...? I'm not trying to sound accusatory. I'm asking because I am very seriously considering teaching English abroad myself, once I graduate from college in December, and this is something that weighs heavily on me whenever I think about the possibility of being an English teacher.

Yes, I know that people all over the world genuinely want to learn English. I wouldn't keep it from them, even if I could. But, I do think that the world of international business and economy is taking its toll on humanity. Crying or Very sad I imagine myself teaching an English class and wanting to stop and say, "No-- you teach me today. Teach me YOUR language." (oy, that is so corny, soph...) But, for real.

There is a second part to this: It kind of upsets me to think that people might not be interested in the English speaking CULTURES-- those cultures that grew the language (and vise versa, perhaps...), but are only interested in succeeding in business/financially. Again-- I wouldn't hold from a person (many, many people, really) the success that they deeply want for the sake of preserving something to which I am attached, and which may very well be on its way out of this world. Rolling Eyes

I believe-- no, I know-- that language is very tied to culture and community. And so, what are the far reaching consequences and effects of teaching English to the whole world? This is a question that everyone on earth should be asking themselves about their vocation. The world would probably by a friendlier place, no?!

I'd love some answers from EFL teachers who have considered the same things, and who continue to teach English.

thanks. [/img]
________
Honda H5 transmission history


Last edited by sophieczka on Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
jarhead930



Joined: 07 Apr 2005
Posts: 1
Location: Afghanistan

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was an english teacher in northern China for about a year not that long ago, and based on that experiance, I would say no. I went there to learn Chinese as much as anything else, and though China is rapidly getting into the international business world and the percentage of Chinese citizens who speak english is practically exploding, I found that there were at least 4 different dialects of Mandarin in use just within the small city that I lived in.

The friend that I moved to China with ended up falling in love with a Chinese girl (another teacher, ironically enough) and brought her back to the US where they have now had their first child. They make a conscious effort to split their time in each languages as much down the middle as possible. That baby will grow into an adult who is fluent in the two most difficult languages in the world, be able to exist in chinese culture as well as american, and is the better for it.

The moral of the story is, teaching another language does not strip your students of their indigenous language. I'm currently serving a combat tour in Afghanistan both training the Afghan army how to use their tanks (there's a nightmare and a half) and in my off time, how to better speak English. The Afghani's who I teach often bring their children to help them get ahead in the world, but they all retain their pride as Afghans. It is very much an eviroment of mutal learning as they often teach me more than I can teach them. Unfortunately I am better versed as an Abrams gunner than as an English teacher. Smile
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger
sophieczka



Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 5
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico and Grinnell, Iowa

PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:44 am    Post subject: as i recall... Reply with quote

I'm reminded of that old adage, "The fate of the language is the fate of the people." (And vice versa.)
________
e cigarette


Last edited by sophieczka on Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
EFLtrainer



Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Things change. The languages that are spoken today are not the same as they were even a hundred years ago. Cultures come and go. Countries, empires come and go. It's not really at issue in my opinion. To me the question is, is there a value in stopping language growth and development? When you want to keep a language and not have it disappear, well, that's perhaps what you are essentially doing. If that approach had been taken in Europe, for example, English wouldn't even exist. It's a bastard child of a hodgepodge of other languages.

However, I agree that language and culture exist in a feedback loop and that those that wish to preserve their language (though preferably allowing it to change with time) should be fully supported.

But, yes, if a second language becomes dominant and transforms into the first language of a people, somethings gotta give. Does that mean that we are cultural imperialists as teachers of EFL/ESL? I don't think so. How people adjust and adapt is up to them. If we were mandating the learning of English, rather than it being a function of marketplace, etc., we would need to consider the issue. But that goes back to my first comments that change may or may not always be for the best, it is unavoidable.

You can take the above and insert ¨culture¨ and it would state my views on that also.

Just my two cents...
_________________
teflintltrainer

Contact me for further information regarding my experiences as a TEFL trainer and teacher.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Lee Hobbs
Site Admin


Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 141
Location: TheGulfCoast

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2006 7:07 pm    Post subject: How Are Industry Ethics Decided? Reply with quote

sophieczka wrote:
. . . Do you ever wonder whether by teaching English as a second/foreign language to people all over the world, you are slowly killing away the many beautiful languages and cultures on the earth? . . .


Sophieczka,

This topic is certainly a hotly debated one now in Western academia, especially among the more progessive thinkers within the university "corporation" that "prepares," qualifies and certifies new teachers as TEFL/TESL trainers (propagation of the industry).

Whether the dying language in question is some form of Gaelic, Cajun French or Gullah or the colonizing "lingua franca" is Hellenistic Greek, ancient Latin, 18th-century French or 20th-century Russian, it seems that there will always be some tongues that go by the wayside from disuse and others that rise in popularity due to economic strength. Of course, this doesn't excuse it, I'm just parroting the opinions expressed by many in the field who feel totally justified by what they do.

Obviously, you're not going to find a ton of sympathizers for the underlying idea in your quotation in this particular forum since most people come here to actually find work in the ESL field. The fact is: no more ESL teaching, no more easily-accesible opportunities for work overseas for many. It's like asking members of a national union of workers to support the outsourcing of factory work overseas: not in their best interest.

If you're interested in joining a serious discussion on this subject by others in the Engilsh teaching field, please read my entry on "English Teaching and Cultural Imperialism" on my own blog HERE.

I'd be interested to get your comments.

Peace,

Lee
http://www.english-blog.com

_________________

Lee's blog is still available, however, here: www.english-blog.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
bobrec



Joined: 29 Jul 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your question actually bothered me a little, because I started thinking about my time studying Spanish. I wasn't worried that learning Spanish would obliterate my English or my understanding of my culture. If there are intellectuals arguing that teaching people English is a disservice to their cultures, I really wish they would come to Beijing and talk to me directly. It seems to me they may have nothing else to do. And everyone has their own opinion about this, I am sure. If people want to learn a language, someone has to teach them. If a lot of people want to learn that language, a lot of teachers would be needed. So, what's all the fuss? Are there really people who are saying, "English shouldn't be taught to non-native speakers?" That seems really stupid to me. Perhaps I am stupid, though, but I would never want anyone telling me that I should not learn a language because it would ruin my language and my culture. That still seems like nonsense to me.

Bob in Beijing
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
CizinkaNaZemi



Joined: 19 Jan 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Central Europe

PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:13 pm    Post subject: Ambassadors, not conquerors Reply with quote

Sophie, I'm very glad that you're considering this question at the same time that you are considering whether to go overseas as an English teacher. While teaching in the Czech Republic and Serbia over the last four years, I definitely wondered the same thing - am I contributing to cultural imperialism, am I compromising their language by teaching English, am I exploiting my students' desire to learn to feed my own desire to be an interesting cosmopolitan person, etc. etc.

It depends. You can teach in many ways, for many reasons. You can push your own culture (it's hard not to - that's what you know best, and you will do it unconsciously), but in fact your decision to go to another country and teach will serve as a counterexample to most perceptions of Americans. Whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, we are cultural ambassadors as well as teachers, and the fewer Americans there are in your chosen area, the more you become an iconic American. The color and tone of that icon is up to you.

As for learning their language, asking my students and friends for help is exactly how I learned Czech and Serbian. I never would have otherwise. For the sake of integrity in my teaching, I didn't use the classroom as a forum for that, and I made rules for myself about speaking English with students even outside the classroom. However, I found people who wanted to help me, and I wore them out with questions. Later, other natives were astonished when I could not only use basic polite phrases but also compare English and Czech words and forms in my lessons and eventually converse fluently.

My attempts to learn Czech and later Serbian (neither of which I may use again, except on return visits) at the same time that I was teaching English convinced my students that I was there to learn from them, not to exploit them. It helps your teacher-student dynamic (the laughter at your pronunciation alone will help that), encourages their desire to learn, and helps them see that you understand their struggle to acquire language. At the same time, in many cases you will encounter people, especially teenagers but not exclusively, who do not value their own languages and cultures, and your desire to learn about them helps them to assess and describe that value. You may actually bolster the strength of their language by encouraging your students to appreciate it.

Then again, for most people I've worked with, learning English is a career decision or a hobby, and I don't think that interest occupies the same space in their minds or hearts as their love of their homeland and mother tongue.

In other words, yes, please, go overseas and teach. See for yourself if you agree with what I've said, and learn more about how cultures and languages are growing and changing all the time. The world is always trying to rebuild the Tower of Babel, and language diversity is really decreasing on the fringes, but English teachers can play a role in slowing that death as well as speeding it up.

All the best! Vsechno nejlepsi! Sve najbolje! A hodne stesti - good luck with learning and teaching.
_________________
"... And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ian



Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 18
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 1:06 am    Post subject: teaching Enlish or cultural hegemony? Reply with quote

I'm really glad someone decided to bring up this topic/issue, because I think it is an important one to not only discuss but to think about, if and when, especially, you are deciding to go overseas to teach. My experience in Seoul, South Korea for six and half months taught me so many, many, many things, such that it not only transformed my thinking and who I was but my critique of the western culture, I had left and known for so long. To this day I feel that we have so much to learn from, not only Asia but every other culture on this planet! My opinion of western culture dropped significantly upon my return, and still - after two years - a very large chunk of me is still in Asia. Perhaps I will return one day soon, but even if I do not, the part of the culture I did learn while there, can by and large be attributed to the part of their language, which I learnt and so eagerly studied, in my spare time. Sure I was there for different reasons, one of which was to make a buck but overall the experience was more than I could have ever planned or bargained for.

It just so happens that English is the international language of trade and commerce, for how long no one knows, but I think every one who has the desire, courage and opportunity to go teach in some far-off part of the world, should definitely go. It is an experience as rich as any thing the West could conjure up and try and sell to satisfy the human spirit.
_________________
'I believe in karma and destiny, and that is all I need to know.'
'Be the change you want to see.' -- Gandhi
'Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.' -- Albert Einstein
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
CizinkaNaZemi



Joined: 19 Jan 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Central Europe

PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 3:09 am    Post subject: On a slightly different note Reply with quote

Having said all that, some English teachers do tend to take themselves a bit too seriously (I admit it), and the site Englishdroid.com definitely has the antidote to that!

Thanks, ESL Lesson Plan for the link ...

Link to full article regarding the site mentioned HERE - Forum Administration
_________________
"... And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
canuckophile



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject: English isn't really the problem Reply with quote

Languages are dying out at an alarming rate, but certain factors (especially declining populations of small tribal groups) are often the reason. The introduction of a 3rd language such as English - a language most often acquired by better educated and more upwardly mobil "locals" - is not really a reason.

When a language is supplanted/replaced by another language, it is typically because there is another dominant language typically used for communication within that region. English will always be a "foreign" language in such areas - and it's not replacing the small, at-risk languages worldwide.

In Latin America, Spanish has replaced most of the indigenous native languages. In Africa, certain pan-African languages (Swahili, for ex.) are hurting the smaller tribal languages. In China, Chinese is hurting the local minority languages (and here the Chinese are largely responsible - they don't care if they overwhelm the local cultures). Of course, we did this in the US with native American languages - few are left now.

But if you have to worry about the impact of learning English on the rest of the world, I don't think that ESL instructors are stamping out the locally imperiled languages. Other factors are WAY more important.

CANUCKOPHILE
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Lee Hobbs
Site Admin


Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 141
Location: TheGulfCoast

PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 3:30 pm    Post subject: Does Language Drive Industry or Does Industry Drive Language Reply with quote

canuckophile wrote:
Languages are dying out at an alarming rate, but certain factors (especially declining populations of small tribal groups) are often the reason.


Hi Canuckophile,

First of all, let me say that everyone here has made some very good points!

Ok, just for a moment, let's give traditional and non-market culture a short break from the discussion.

If anyone has a spare moment, please take a look at Dr. Townsend's latest blog entry "Does Language Death Really Matter"? here. If nothing else, the title of her piece should provoke some thought.

Is it possible that industry and other global market / economic forces in these countries you allude to (and, perhaps, the western "business" languages that help motivate them) might play at least a small role in the reasons underlying the dwindling tribal populations?

If so, might the ESL industry itself, for all the intended good it might or might not do, simply be a working cogwheel in this machine? Who really benefits the most from the change in languages: big business (let's go ahead and throw ESL schools into the mix) or the everyday working class person? Does any of this assist the poverty class or is it simply another way the elite can help themselves stay elite?

Without hesitation, I invite you to discuss!

Best wishes,

Lee
http://www.english-blog.com

_________________

Lee's blog is still available, however, here: www.english-blog.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
canuckophile



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:18 am    Post subject: Reviving Dying Languages Reply with quote

Again, I think the spread of English as an academic/business/travel lingua franca has little to do with the demise of the small language groups occurring worldwide. This has been going on for centuries. (For example, Cornish died out in England maybe in the 1700's - I'm not at all sure, but I think it's been relatively recent historically.)

The article you flagged said that it is difficult to revive dying languages. This is true in dealing with small, "primitive" (for lack of a better word) tribal groups. As their numbers dwindle (often because they choose to disband by moving to more populated areas, marrying outside their ethnic group, etc.), the language simply dies. This is terribly sad (I love languages in all their diversity) but it is probably not preventable. If only there were enough linguists in the world to at least document these languages before they perish! Something is lost when a language is lost - a way of looking at the world, something that is specific to a human culture.

BUT there are plenty of language revivals to point to, especially in (better educated and more socially cohensive) societies where people care enough. Gaelic has been revived in Ireland (a campaign now a century old ), Basque (possibly the oldest European language) in Spain, Welsh in Wales. And in other parts of the world, there is more serious effort to keep alive native languages such as the remaining Native American languages of North America, though (sadly) most of the local dialects have been lost.

So it can be done with larger, better-organized groups.

And whether a language lives or dies has (I think) nothing to do with the ESL profession. Right now the biggest market for ESL is China, and believe me, with approximately a billion Han Chinese, there is no danger of Chinese dying out!

It would be great, however, if the Chinese recognized the importance of maintaining some of their threatened languages.

For example, the NAXI people in SW Yunnan province - the world's only remaining pictograph language is now spoken and written and read by a few thousand. When I visited there a couple of years ago, I met an old man who survives giving lessons to younger Naxi people - but without much financial support. I have tried to find a linguistics society that could send him a few hundred dollars - no success. VERY sad, because the Naxi are an amazing people and culturally cohesive despite the Han Chinese onslaught.

CANUCKOPHILE
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    ESL Jobs Forum Forum Index -> Open ESL Expert Discussion... All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Protected by Anti-Spam ACP


Contact Us | About Us | ESL Jobs Newsletter | ESL Lesson Plan | ESL Online