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March 29, 2009

Who Is The Real Foreigner?

So who's the real foreigner?

Have you ever noticed that in just about any ESL context, someone is the foreigner?

Whether the teacher or the student, someone....

...is the foreigner in the classroom.

Sometimes, like many of you, I have had a mix of students from all different languages and cultures. Other times I have had students from exclusively one language group.

I have had mixed groups close to where I live and I have held sessions in the homes (sometimes literally) of others many thousands of miles from my home.

Which is the easier or better learning environment?

In many ways I like the mixed environment: English is the common link between the different students and I (and the students) find it enjoyable, as well as educational, to learn about other cultures.

One note of caution though - be wary of class potlucks. I love encountering the food of other cultures, but the delicacies of one student's culture may be "unclean" - or worse - to another student.

Most of the time, when all the students come from one culture, there is a reasonable consensus regarding the proper foods - or conversation topics - to share.

What are some of your experiences regarding mixed or uniform classroom settings?

Have you learned anything important by being the foreigner?

In April, I'll be starting a series on book recommendations - books related to language, teaching, travel or anything related to the ESL teaching & learning experience. So send in your travel stories soon.

My best to you,


Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf spent about six years working for a Native American Tribal College, a few years teaching various humanities, English, writing and ESL courses with the community college system in Washington State (including one year as part of a faculty exchange program with The Beijing Foreign Language University). While in China, Morf was briefly a radio host for CRI (China Radio International) and did recordings for the "English can be enjoyable" book and tape series. Morf currently teaches English and writing for a local technical/vocational college with many international students. Morf prefers international and independent films, foods he can't pronounce, music no one else likes and riding his bicycle in unlikely and ridiculous situations.

Posted by mmorf at March 29, 2009 08:35 PM

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