Today in Emart I was shopping with Julianne and we ran into some of my students from last year. One of them, a guy, was shopping with a friend, and when he saw me he gave an enthusiastic "Jason!"
I introduced him to Julianne--at which point he told her with great enthusiasm and passion, "I LOVE JASON!" LOL . . . yeah, things that you should not say in America unless you're with extremely liberal people--or in a gay bar, lol.
During dinner Julianne and I were brainstorming different possible ideas for what I might cover in my course. Bear in mind the course will have 50 hours of instruction time, and that the trainees will be living for a month in America this coming July.
Some possibilities are . . .
- comments and questions about a person's body fat
- "You should . . . " imperatives based on the social hierarchy of Korea's modern Confucianism and how this would NOT go over well in America
- staring at people for longer than 3-5 seconds . . . in pretty much any and every situation, but especially when on the street in America . . . I remember my psychology prof in an undergrad course telling us that studies show that if you stare at someone for more than 7 seconds the fight or flight response kicks in to one degree or another in the person being stared at . . . I can just imagine what would happen if a group of Korean teachers were all staring at some American teenagers, laughing and pointing at them, and making comments . . . I'm not saying there's a guarantee of violence, but I'm pretty sure a negative reaction is safe to assume
- yelling "HELLO!" or "HI!" to strangers on the street and then laughing and speaking to their friends in Korean
- Saying "No" and how the cultural rules differ so much in America for when and how and to who and for what you can say no . . .
- religion, and pushing your beliefs on people who don't share the same views--i.e. Korean Christians (not all, but too many)
- flirting and giving compliments to strangers and/or people you work with--especially the older male Korean teachers (again, not all, but too many)
- drinking and alcohol culture, bar culture
- personal space and touching taboos
- driving and following the traffic laws
- multiculturalism in the USA
- eating habits and manners: no slurping, sharing is done very differently than in Korea, for example the idea of communal bowls and platters that everyone eats out of
- friendship rules: age, gender, and class rules are not nearly as strict as they are for Koreans, for example, not being friends with someone more than a year or two older
- being on time when you make social or work appointments
- speaking up if there is a problem or issue in a situation--many Koreans think that's rude but there are many situations in which it's critical that someone speaks up if there's a problem
- when and how to say 'yes' and 'no' politely and effectively
- Individualism vs Collectivism cultures
- race topics
- sexuality and gender topics
- nationalism/nationalistic views and how cultural conflicts can come up
- in each lecture I'm thinking about having a 20 minute section where I give a topic about Korea, and divide the 20 trainees into 4 groups of 5, let them have 10 minutes to brainstorm and write out the language they need to explain a Korean socio-cultural topic or issue---but something I thought about that I will need to do is to present and deconstruct some of the nationalistic myths that many Koreans try to tell foreign English people about, some examples include the following,
1) kimchi is a cure-all for any and all health issues, especially cancer and SARS
2) the racial purity of the Korean people
3) Korea is the only country in the world to have four distinct seasons
4) there are no gay Koreans
- Julianne pointed out that if the trainees spend a month in the more southern states of the US that they'll need to know when and how to use "ma'am" and "sir"
- tipping in restaurants (not done here) and for taxis (this I found interesting because not everyone does this in Canada)
- doctor/hospital situations and how in Korea many people accept doctor's diagnoses with no questions or requests for a second opinion
- blood types and personality types and the myth that they are highly correlated and should be used as the basis of who one should date and marry
And the list goes on . . . if anyone reads this post and has some suggestions I'll be glad to consider them as I make the curriculum over the next few days and weeks . . .
Well, time to go relax with Julianne for a while. Today is our one year anniversary--wow!
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