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Only in America

Is there really another place on the face of this planet as accepting and as multicultural as the US?   When I immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, I already had a degree in teaching English an...

Is there really another place on the face of this planet as accepting and as multicultural as the US?

 

When I immigrated to the U.S. in 1991, I already had a degree in teaching English and some teaching experience.  I couldn't envision teaching English in the States though, since I couldn't relate to a possible transposition of a situation, when an Amercan (Chinese, German, any foreigner) would come to Russia and have the «audacity» to even consider teaching Russian to anybody! J

            But after I took some linguistics classes from a local university, I realized that I did have a lot to offer to prospective students, namely my OWN experience of undergoing a linguistic and cultural transformation to «blend in» into this society.  Being a native speaker, of course, gives a teacher the advantage of being intimately familiar with the local language and culture, but the native teacher might not be aware of the problems of newcomers, as I certainly was.

            I got a teaching credential in the State of California, and I have been teaching ESL to adult immigrants ever since.  I've had students from almost 50 countries with educational levels ranging from illiterate to Ph.D.s in their respective cultures and I absolutely LOVE my job. Teaching has always been a two-way process for me: there has always been something that I could help my students with, but they have also taught me so much in return!

            Multicultural is definitely the name of the game I've played all these years.  One particular occasion stands out in my mind.  In an intermediate ESL class I gave my students an assignment to make a short presentation on one of the most memorable moments in their lives.  Hannellore - an older German lady, very friendly and educated, an author and editor of a women's magazine in the past- chose to talk about the unforgettable days in Berlin at the end of WWII when both the Americans and Russians were bombing her city and she didn't believe she'd survive the ordeal.  «I would never have believed it,» she said, « if someone have told me back then that I would be spending the golden years of my life in the country of the enemy, in America.   And after a pause during which the irony of her situation was considered by the listeners, someone (a young Japanese girl, incidentally) added, «And on top of that, you are learning English in America from a RUSSIAN TEACHER!!!»

 

Everybody laughed.  Yes, thank goodness we can laugh at the irony nowArticle Submission, about 65 years after those momentous events.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Irena Dewey is the author and owner of an Advanced American English instructional website www.usconversation.com



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