Category Archives: EFL

Cultural differences in self-introductions

In a comment to my previous post, Cleve reported:

One technique I try to do with the “state the class objective” slice is to borrow a page from the marketing book and frame the objective in a way that Ss feel is important – (simplistic) example with my adult BE Ss: instead of saying “today we’ll be working on the conditionals” I’ll say “After today’s session you’ll be able to discuss future scenarios for your marketing plans when you have a presentation…” which is more meaningful to them.

Because the situation in this week’s class was introducing yourself, Cleve’s comments reminded me of a big difference between Japanese and English-speakers when it comes to social introductions. Perhaps it’s because Japan is more of a collectivist society, but one of the first things I had to learn when I came here was how to “do a self-introduction”, which is always to a group, often a large one, like, the whole school.

Conversely, Japanese are generally poor at small-group social interactions. At a party where I invited both Japanese and non-Japanese, most non-Japanese stood around chatting and eating and drinking in small groups: the Japanese teachers from my school came right in, sat down at the only low table and ensconced themselves there for the duration of the evening, calling loudly for beer and food at irregular intervals. At another similar party, a Japanese guest came in, took his plate and cup, then stood around embarrassed, completely incapable of insinuating himself into a group. He gave up after 10 seconds, handed me his plate, said “Some other time” and left.

A “party” for Japanese is a chance to bond (and bitch) with your co-workers, not an opportunity to mingle and meet new people.

Here: introduce yourself to this lot.

Teaching vocab

I’m trying to figure out how to best teach vocab to my uni students.
I’ve been playing with the Vocab profiler, and have input the first unit of all the textbooks I’m using, and separated out the 1k words, the 2K, the AWL ones, and the off-list.

I also want to give some basic dictionary training, adapting Rob Waring’s suggestions. I think that should cover me for tomorrow, he-he-he.
I’m also going to give them Nation’s 1K vocab level test, and another one next week. Most students know about 1,500 – 2,000 words I would say, but their knowledge is spotty, and needs reviewing.
I don’t just want to focus on reviewing the top 2,000, tho, I want to move on to AWL, particularly in the fields my students are majoring in (Economics, Informatics, Engineering).

Just because I have them, I want to assign Rob Waring’s receptive test AND productive test. Well, it would be a more accurate measure (for me) AND it would, ok, might, bring home the point that there is a difference between the two, and which one to focus on is more a matter of personal goals than course requirements (is it realistic to require students to master 5,000 words of productive vocab when they and I both know they are highly unlikely to ever need English in their lives ever again after graduating?).

At my present rate, I’ll be doing dictionary training and vocab testing on the top 1,000 words for the next 3 months….
I’m getting lost in the forest.