Saturday, December 5, 2009

The problem with language

Sailormoon speaks poor English too.

Remember this? Well, I ran into something exactly like it in the Daily Language Review curriculum that my school uses. Here's the question:

Which word does not belong in this group?

bird plane surfboard kite hot-air balloon

The answer that the teacher's manual gave is, "bird," because it is alive and the other things are inanimate.

But another possible answer would be, "surfboard," because it doesn't fly.

Or even, "hot-air balloon," since it is a hyphenated word.

I haven't seen as much borderline racial issues at a school than at my current school. I've read about it in journals and such for class, but I have never seen it in real life. My current school has precisely one African-American teacher, one Hispanic teacher, and two Asian-American teachers (including myself). And that is it. Everyone else is white bread.

I don't really know what to do about the minor racial things I see going on every day. I call them minor, but oppression in any sense isn't minor at all. It just that students will have a build up of it over time, so the results aren't showing right now.

I do commend this school for having a strong male teacher presence though. There is one in K, 2, 4, 5, and 6, plus the computer teacher and the highly involved plant manager.

Still, this kind of demographic really does change how English language is taught at my school. Which is to say, in a rather traditional way that may not address some EL student's needs.

I accepted both "bird" or "surfboard" as the correct answer. I only thought of "hot-air balloon" after the lesson, but none of the students picked it up either. Sometimes, you just have to move on, even when mistakes are made in teaching.

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