Summer starts here..
On Monday the 3 month summer pre-sessional courses start at my university. These are designed to get students up to speed with academic life here in the UK. My classes usually contain a great variety of different nationalities, sometimes more than 10, so one of the challenges for a teacher is to try to cater for so many different expectations and such a wide range of educational backgrounds. The importance of educational background is something which, as a teacher, you can’t underestimate. Higher educations systems around the world are very different – what is normal for a student in the UK, may be completely alien to someone from another country. My job on these courses is to try to prepare people for what to expect when they start their degree courses. What is the expected structure for an essay? How should students include references? What is the purpose of seminars? How can students improve their reading skills? How can I find reliable information online?
As you probably know, London is a multicultural city. Over 300 languages are spoken here, there are many different communities living side by side – go out on the street, on the bus, on the tube and you’ll hear myriad tongues and see people from all over the world. It is truly a melting pot. This can come as a shock to many students – perhaps their view has been informed by watching Mr Bean or studying from old coursebooks where everyone carries an umbrella and a briefcase, drinks tea at 5 o’clock and is absurdly polite. Often, the first reaction is culture shock.
Hang on a minute! It’s 5 o’clock – If you would be so kind as to excuse me, I’ll go and make my tea.
Ah, that’s better! In class today we had a really interesting seminar about culture. We talked about acculturation, and how students can adapt to the new culture in which they find themselves. For me, any opportunity for cultural exchange, whether it is educational, professional or social has to be a good thing. That’s one of the things I like about this blog – it’s a cultural exchange. It’s much easier to dismiss other cultures, simply because you don’t understand them. What I’ve learnt as a teacher is that any preconceived ideas I had about certain cultures or nationalities are constantly being challenged, and the only way this can happen is by interacting with other cultures. Insularity and the belief that one culture is superior to another can surely only cause conflict. Do we really want to live in cultural bubbles, separate and cut off from others? We’re all human beings aren’t we? Perhaps if an alien turns up one day, we’ll suddenly all realise we have more in common than we think..… anyway, I should probably get off my soapbox now. Besides, I guess I’m preaching to the converted… If you all weren’t interested in other cultures, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog!
Your homework! Look up the words and expressions in bold and try to write sentences for a few of them to provide a context. I’ll give you some definitions and pick out some good examples in my next post…
Answers to the quiz: Well done to those of you who answered my quiz about Taru’s post (15 June) Good work! Here are my answers:
1. in recent days, at the table
2. It has been raining and windy recently/the last few days
3. my hobby
4. I took photos of people, children and nature or The photos I took were mostly of people, children and nature
7. We should be careful of one thing or A word of warning or There is one thing you need to watch out for
8. looking at a photo
9. consist of
10. How are they made? What colours do they use?
11. impressed and impressive – in this context ‘impressive’ fits. (impressionable adds 2 suffixes –ion and –able and has a rather different meaning)
12. addicted to
13. There are a lot of (useful) books and websites or A lot of books and websites can be found
Hi Cheik Vall. Where did your definition of culture come from? What’s the context? Does it mean after a certain community has been destroyed? It’s quite hard to get the sense of it without more context. I didn’t hear Obama’s speech, but I think what he means is that Islam and America can (and should) co-exist side by side. If we have one, it does not mean that we cannot have the other. The phrase often used is ‘mutually exclusive’.
Thanks Vijay, for your long and interesting comment about culture. I agree that an individual is a product of the culture in which they are raised as well as of their genes (nature vs nurture).
To everyone who wrote about the naked bike ride – it’s difficult to know what impact it had. It wasn’t widely reported in the media here as far as I could see. There are quite a lot of strange demonstrations and events in London so perhaps people grow a bit weary of them. For me, it was just a bit of fun, something a bit different, but I doubt whether an event like this can have much of an impact. What will get more people on their bikes in London? Proper provision of cycle lanes and facilities for cyclists, better education of drivers, especially bus and lorry drivers, better weather (a bit difficult that one!) Greener cars and car sharing schemes must be the way forward. Anyway, this protest was a laugh, people enjoyed it, no harm was done so why not? Vladimir says he wouldn’t be ready to join a demo in his birthday suit – nor would I (it must be quite uncomfortable..!)
The public and government response was minimal, although you can read what the government think about cycling more generally on their website here.
The picture in the park is of a couple of good friends of mine – we met at university, a (very) long time ago. My friend Matt is on the left, with his two boys, and his wife Gema from Spain (at the front, wearing sunglasses). John, in orange, is going out with Joanna, from Poland, (next to Matt). Joanna’s sister, on the right, has two boys (born in London, Polish parents)! Phew! That was complicated…a real United Nations as you can see! It was a lovely day.
Hyoshil, your story made me sad. Since when was a teacher’s job to stifle creativity and punish imagination?? I think it’s a great idea, sending soldiers into battle with no clothes on! How could they possibly take it seriously? Having said that, maybe your teacher did us all a favour – we’ve read and enjoyed your story, and your burning resentment may have made you more determined to use your imagination and learn all those idioms…
Ana Paola, it sounds really cold out there - did you see the naked bike ride? Did it get much coverage in the press? Abdisamad, there’s a very simple answer to your question. ‘No’. When you use the pronoun ‘I’ it always has to be capitalised, whatever it’s position in the sentence.
Keep those comments coming - bye for now!
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