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.


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.


    1. No, we don’t teach Korean but in the past two years, there’s been great demand. Incoming students keep asking about it, which wasn’t the case before.


  2. 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.”


      1. “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..


  3. 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 XD


  4. 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?


    1. 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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