Archive for Tag: cross-cultural communication

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Good Compliment

TamaraJonesBy Tamara Jones
ESL Instructor, Howard Community College
Columbia, Maryland
jonestamara@hotmail.com

Mark Twain is credited as having said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” I think the key word in his quote is “good.” For example, if a strange man whistles at a woman on the street, while that’s technically a compliment, it’s a creepy one at best, right? A “good” compliment is genuine, personalized and meant to communicate appreciation of some aspect of the recipient’s appearance, actions or possessions.

“Teacher, you are beautiful.”

Complimenting doesn’t necessarily leap to mind as something that ESL/EFL students necessarily need to learn. After all, it is not a face-threatening act and the language surrounding it is fairly straightforward. Even if a student makes grammar mistakes, it’s usually quite easy to understand the intention behind the utterance.

But, have you ever received a compliment from a student that feels a little funny? Many years ago, I taught a young man from Georgia who used to tell me that I was beautiful. I know (or hope, at least) that he was genuinely trying to be nice, but it made me uncomfortable. A similar example of a compliment gone wrong can be found in

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Friday, May 29, 2015

My Dear

DorothyZemachBy Dorothy Zemach
ESL Materials Writer, Editor, Teacher Trainer
Eugene, Oregon
Email: zemach at comcast dot net

If Facebook were a country, it would be the largest one on earth (see exact stats from January 2015 here). That’s a lot of people… and some days, it feels like most of them are sending me chat messages on Facebook.

Now, there is much that I value about Facebook, and much benefit that I derive from it specifically as an English teacher and textbook writer. That is perhaps a post for another day. Today I want to look specifically at the chat function, and why it causes me so many problems—even with other English teachers. (I should note here that I do accept friend requests from ELT teachers I don’t know, because I figure we have a profession in common; and conversations on my main page, which are often about some aspect of English or language or teaching or reading and writing, are richer with more participants.)

For one thing, I find chat in general (not just Facebook’s) invasive and demanding. Email I can respond to at my leisure—chat is pressure. I answer, and instantly there’s another prompt I have to respond to. Now, if it’s important, I don’t mind that—in fact, I want that speed and immediacy. I use chat then with people I work with, who need a fast answer to something pressing. I also use it with my son, because that’s the fastest way to reach him—although even then, I use it when we need to discuss something urgent. If I’m just checking in, I send a text message.

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