Advanced concerns

I love teaching advanced students because I don’t have to be in ‘teacher mode’. I can be more natural and I learn a lot from arguing over language. Yes, there are times like today when I just don’t know an answer or an expression but I explain that I can’t know everything. For instance ‘to hold the whip over someone’. I didn’t recognise it which came as a surprise to my student.

Another issue is ‘common usage’. I spend a lot of time on collocations but also what language is used today and by who and what isn’t. Here we get into different registers, demographics and cultural specifics related to language. My student(s) find this hard as they aren’t in the environment and their dictionary says a definition but not if the word is used now, before or 500 words ago. For myself, I am living abroad so am also out of time with what’s going on in my native country’s language.

This is the reason why I think all higher levels should live for a while in an English speaking environment because they have so many questions. Yet, proving that X word is not commonly used in everyday language but Y is can be difficult. I have started using a corpus which shows whether words are spoken, written for fiction etc but if I had the same which showed how common a word was, in which decade it appeared and tracked its usage that would be fab!

2 thoughts on “Advanced concerns

  1. I have fun discussing words like “freedom.” Two cultures can think they understand but can have a completely different understanding.

    My (adult) Chinese students were all for freedom until I asked the question, “What if a 15-year -old becomes pregnant? Should she be able to have the baby?”

    The students had a very difficult time understanding that, to Americans, the freedom of the 15-year-old to make that choice was more important than the potential difficulties to the family and (possibly) the baby and society.

    Straight translation is often very difficult.

    • Yes, I discussed ‘propaganda’ yesterday and how it’s negative here but in N Korea perhaps not.

      I was always very surprised with how much freedom Chinese people actually have. They seemed to operate in boundaries but were quite happy to say no to bosses and argue with the police. Reversing on motorways always amused me too. I found there were so many exceptions to every rule because people complained that there ended up being no rule. 1 child family policy only seems to apply to people in big cities, others can have more kids or if the first is a girl they can try again, they have to pay a fine but if they move from their home town it’s hard to track them.I used to talk to cleaners about this in my uni and they had several kids unregistered I think and the general response to “why do you have 3 kids?” was always “it’s my brother’s kid”.

      I also met a guy whose visa had run out 6 months ago and had been caught and taken to the visa office. He argued so much and the proceedings would have taken so long that the guy said”gimme 500 quid and you can stay”.

      What I find fascinating about all this is that the people at the top make rules that just won’t work so the people at the bottom adapt them and figure out how to really get on with life.

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