Teach English in YuwuZhen - Changzhi Shi

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It is well known among anthropologists that culture and language often go hand in hand. How one speaks influences how they perceive the world around them, including how they interact with their surroundings. Likewise, how one responds to external stimuli affects how they speak and create language. In many regards English, may it be American or British, breaks standard language rules followed by many other cultures. For example, in English there are no feminine or masculine words as there would be in French or Spanish. Much like our language, culturally Americans tend to lack many gender, social, and hierarchical divisions in their interactions. Minor differences in linguistic culture can often have realistic consequences on interpersonal relationships, being aware of these will make any English teacher abroad more successful. Many world cultures have behavioral expectations such as removing your shoes before entering a room as a sign of respect, addressing the male parent first, direct eye contact being seen as bad which an incoming teacher may not aware of. Coming in as a teacher and wearing shoes while teaching in a country where this is seen as impolite will directly influence how much of an impact a teacher has on his or her students. A bad impression can lead parents to take students away, file a complaint with the school, or even cause students to not respect their teacher. It is because of these consequences that it is to an incoming teacher’s benefit to learn about the culture they will be teaching in for the benefit of their students. Being aware of these cultural norms can also lead to some successful English teaching by consciously breaking norms during a class period to connect the English language and culture. Take for example, a culture where language is heavily gendered and certain rules apply on how men speak with men, women speak with women, and how men and women can speak to each other. In this scenario it is crucial for an English teacher to be aware of those norms to be able to instruct on how the English language differs as well as how to create comfortable exercises where students can practice breaking their own cultural norms and experience new ones. Particularly this can be beneficial in teaching adult classes or classes with business professionals as they are the groups most likely in need to adapt both their language and cultural behaviors. Cultural sensitivity can only bring harmony to a teacher’s classroom. As it has been mentioned multiple times during the lessons teachers must balance a seemingly innumerable number of things, from speaking time, to study vs. active times, textbook vs. external lessons. Being actively aware of cultural sensitivities is just one more aspect a good teacher must juggle, however the benefits vastly outweigh the extra effort spent. Teaching does not happen in a vacuum where you can check your culture at the door. Teaching happens within a living community, especially language which shapes how ones can interact with said community. Adapting to your surroundings will help make your lessons feel more comfortable to students, helping to make a foreign teacher seem less different. In a job which relies on interpersonal relationships it is only to ones benefit to do some extra research to be culturally sensitive.