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Reflections on Communicative Language Teaching A Course Book for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. von McKenzie-Brown, Peter (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 01.08.2012
  • Verlag: Peter McKenzie-Brown
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Reflections on Communicative Language Teaching

To become a great English teacher, what do you need to know and what do you have to do? I reflected continually on those questions during a four-year teaching sojourn in Thailand. In this book I present my answers.

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    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: none
    Seitenzahl: 181
    Erscheinungsdatum: 01.08.2012
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9780988150300
    Verlag: Peter McKenzie-Brown
    Größe: 2598kBytes
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Reflections on Communicative Language Teaching

Section II: Essays

1. Thai Culture and Customs

For westerners living in Thailand, much about this country is difficult to fathom. Although Thais are clearly kind, fun-loving and charming, there is something about the country that is quite alien to most of us. Why is this? Here are a few ideas about why Thai culture is so fundamentally different from those in the West.

Thailand shares a complex of cultural and linguistic features with other countries in East Asia. Together, those local characteristics have led to ways of thinking and organizing knowledge that are fundamentally different from those we westerners employ. Explains Richard Nesbitt,

Two utterly different approaches to the world have maintained themselves for thousands of years. These approaches include profoundly different social relations, views about the nature of the world, and characteristic thought processes....The social practices promote the worldviews; the worldviews dictate the appropriate thought processes; and the thought processes both justify the worldviews and support the social practices. 25

East is East, and West is West, and the difficulties of the two meeting are scarcely less baffling than they were when Rudyard Kipling wrote Gunga Din in 1892.

People around the world call Thailand the Land of Smiles, but are Thais really happier than westerners? The evidence suggests they are, even though Thai culture – like most Asian cultures – does not place much store in the pursuit of happiness as a personal virtue 26 . Thais tend to place greater stress on public displays of respect and on (hierarchical) social relationships. However, the place to begin this discussion is with body language, which in Thailand has a few easy-to-accommodate requirements.

Body language: The traditional Thai greeting is called the wai . In general, the younger person greets first, by placing the palms together at chest level and bowing slightly. The higher the placement of the fingertips, the greater the respect; the highest wais are reserved for monks and royalty. If someone should wai you, it is polite to wai back (except to children.)

In giving or receiving gifts or passing things, Thais ordinarily use the right hand. They place the left hand under the right elbow, and bow the head slightly.

The head is considered sacred, since it is the source of intelligence and spiritual substance. Do not touch another person's head. Because the feet come in contact with the ground, they are considered to be profane, dirty – especially the soles of the feet. They should not be pointed at another person. Pointing the bottom of your feet at someone can be interpreted as an insult – the equivalent of giving someone (in North American culture) the finger.

Remove your shoes before entering a temple or a home, and in offering food to monks on their morning rounds. Rural people, who often go barefoot, wash their feet at the bottom of the stairs to the entrance of the house before going inside.

When sitting on the floor, men often cross their legs. Women tuck their legs to the side. It is rude to sit with your ankle crossed over a knee, or to place an arm over the back of someone's chair. Also, public displays of affection are frowned upon.

Respect: These displays are important in Thai culture, and they make sense in terms of broader social realities. One is the matter of respect and influence, which plays a critical role in Thai life.

Respect is an important part of all societies, of course. However, in Thailand it comes with a few special features. It seems to be built into social attitudes. This is different from the situation in most western countries, where we routinely say that respect needs to be earned. (In practice, of course, few people ask how celebrities have earned the

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