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Teaching the f-word

Excerpted here – the whole blog entry is a must-read for anyone who has ever thought they were the only one to share the power of English slang with non-native English speakers. I can remember a similar experience, the chalkboard covered with every English slang word, attempting to help the students understand the variety of uses of the f-word. I’d thought for sure I’d lose my job if my department chair saw it – but since the students had asked, I felt the door had been flung wide open. Teachable moments should never be ignored.

Teaching the f-word
Combative English: lesson one

By Hauquan Chau / Tokyo
Sunday, September 2, 2007

“Very sorry. I have question. What do you say, ‘don’t touch me’ in English?” she asked, in broken, uncertain English.

I asked what she meant. And she began to tell me a story in a pidgin mix of English and Japanese about what had happened to her.

It was at an art museum, she said. While she was examining a print, a man came up to her and began stroking her on the buttocks. She pleaded with him in Japanese to stop, but he continued to harass her, and then began touching her breasts with impunity.

I asked why she didn’t scream out for help or run away, but she only said she didn’t want to make trouble, and therefore endured the harassment. Then she told me it was not the first time. Her pleas in Japanese were always ignored.

If her pleas were in English, she said, everything would change. She’s seen the movies — the Western women on celluloid who take no shit from anyone. Even if the guys who touched her didn’t understand a word, it wouldn’t matter. The English would be enough to send them scurrying away.

From one of many intriguing blogs maintained by In the Fray.

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