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April 08, 2005

Workplace Issues - Debating in the ESL Classroom: Let Me Explain . . .

Hello readers,

A few of you weighed in recently on the issue of debates in the ESL classroom, and boy do your opinions differ! It all stemmed from my observation last week that I was having a difficult time hearing some of the cruel things that my students were saying about the U.S. Some of you responded by calling me prejudice (what?), and others told me to keep silent on hot issues and not to allow my students to debate.

But I don't agree. (Especially with you, Kenneth! I AM a teacher and I'm definitely NOT a tease!)

And my students love it, too. I am a . . .

Here's my take on the situation. Debates are a huge part of my teaching, and I routinely encourage them in my classes. In fact, I like to pit the men against the women in classical debates about roles in various countries, or bring up a touchy subject and watch the sparks fly.

. . . popular teacher, and I often get requests for more lessons planned around debates.

But I can see some of your points, as well. I think the key to using debates in a classroom is the teacher's attitude as well as the students'. Obviously, if I didn't feel that my students could do the lesson in good fun, I wouldn't present it.

But that wasn't my point last week.

I was simply saying that in this particular class some of my students were very upset about what happened, and were voicing their opinions about it in an incredibly hurtful manner. It was simply difficult to listen to.

So, let's review. I am not a prejudice person. I am a real, live ESL teacher. And I don't routinely stifle my students' ability to express themselves.

Can't we all just be friends again? Please?

Until next time,


Posted by msimmons at April 8, 2005 12:03 AM

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