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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Cross-cultural Teaching

Maybe what I should answer to yet another obnoxious person who is asking me, “But why don’t you teach Russian instead?” is that it’s an unattractive language with an unimpressive literature, a hopeless history of the language-speaking community, and an impoverished culture. Maybe that will shut them up.

The best part of this particular conversation came when I asked my Korean interlocutor what she did and the response was that she teaches German.

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10 thoughts on “Cross-cultural Teaching

  1. “Maybe what I should answer”

    If you’d said that to the Korean colleague they would probably think that you asume that they think the same thing about their native langauge/culture….

    Does your university teach Korean? South Korea has kind of emerged as a major cultural power in Asia while North Korea keeps the world on its toes.

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  2. Jonathan Mayhew on said:

    It’s odd. It’s like asking a chemist why he doesn’t teach physical anthropology instead. Or a chemist whose native language is English why she isn’t an English professor. You can say, “It’s not my field.”

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    • That’s what I say. “It’s not my profession.” But people seem to expect another explanation.

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      • “But people seem to expect another explanation.”

        If you had more of a taste for social interactions you could feign more affection for the language than you have and say “It’s not my specialization, I wouldn’t know where to begin teaching it.”

        Then, you could either give the mini speech on the difference between a native speaker and a language teacher (it’s always good to have that one ready) or if it’s a fellow language teacher say something about a language that person knows but doesn’t teach. Before you know it the subject will have changed..

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  3. Spiderbaby on said:

    Well, you could list all the things you love about spanish/hispanic language, literature and culture.
    But if you want to save time, you could just declare: “I am a spanish genious”. Which isn’t far from the truth, since you mastered the language very quickly 🙂
    I only hope you won’t reach your breaking point and snap 😄

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  4. ..an unattractive language…

    Here’s a Russian sentence I found in the wild a few days ago:

    Почему-то просвещать волонтёров, преподавателей и детей в вопросах кибербезопасности хотят люди, сами смутно ориентирующиеся в современных технологиях и интернете — в частности.

    In particular, the (I think) present active participle, but reflexivized to ориентирующиеся. I lost count of the syllables trying to pronounce it. Sure there’s elision in Russian, but that’s why I have zero oral comprehension. Is stuff like this part of why you’re so antipathetic toward passive voice?

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    • That’s a crappy sentence, especially since the words ” в частности” are incomprehensible here. But this is far from the worst kind of sentences Russian can produce. Many sentences are much longer and a lot more confusing. I tried reading a literary criticism essay in Russian and started hating literature in general by the end of the first page.

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