Category: Teaching tips

The “man code” – does it cross cultures?

Maybe an interesting discussion topic – comparing the American man code to what’s expected in other cultures. This list is extensive and some things are jokes and/or too dirty for most ESL classes but pick say 10 or 15 of them and I think you have a good start. Students can then compare the American rules with expectations in their culture.

You may exaggerate any anecdote told to your friends by 50% without recrimination, beyond that anyone within earshot is allowed to yell out “bullshit!”. (exception: when trying to pick up a girl, the allowable exaggeration is 400%)

Under no circumstances may two men share an umbrella.

Before dating a buddy’s ex you are required to ask his permission.

The minimum amount of time you have to wait for another man is 5 minutes. The maximum is 6 minutes. For a girl, you are required to wait 10 minutes for every point of hotness she scores on the classic 1-10 scale (divided by 2).

When using a urinal in a public restroom, a buffer zone of at least one urinal will exist at all times.

A man shall never help another man apply sun tan oil.

Friends don’t let friends wear speedos. Ever. Case closed.

No man shall ever watch any of the following programs on TV: Figure skating, Men’s gymnastics

No man will ever willingly watch a movie in which the main theme is dancing, and if a man shall happen to view such a movie it is only acceptable if its with a girlfriend.

If you’ve known a guy for more than 24 hours, his sister is off limits forever! Unless you actually marry her.

When questioned by a friend’s girlfriend, you need not and should not provide any information as to his whereabouts. You are even permitted to deny his very existence.

American engagement video

Here’s a nice little engagement video I plan to show my conversation students so that they can compare Korean engagements with American ones. I understand that in Korea the diamond ring is not an essential part of the engagement (though it is becoming more common).

Intercultural discussion or roleplay: Korean men are touch-feely

This is a short, but great YouTube video for generating some discussion or setting up a roleplay based on cultural differences. These guys are Americans on a show called FightQuest. They go to foreign countries and learn a fighting style and then compete.

In this short clip they talk about wearing a speedo in France (as well as some weird fighting uniform that kind of looks like a wrestler’s singlet) but even better is their discussion of how Korean guys are “touchy-feely”. No doubt the Korean martial arts master who put his hand on the American’s thigh or lap seemed a bit gay to the American men.

Public speaking tips and examples

Public speaking tips:

The importance of short sentences:

Good vs. bad presentation.

Biden-Palin debate – voice and tone.

Public speaking advice – some funny, some serious (some slang).

Describe this video of a dog attacking a police car

Just an idea. Play this video and ask students to describe the action:

Vocabulary: pit bull, bumper, patrol car, cop car, police car, reverse, let go, pull, tear, rip, attack

Discussion / debate topic for ESL students

Interesting article here arguing that the International Olympics Committee should “make sure that some of this money can go directly to the athletes.”

In other words, athletes from the USA have an advantage thanks to a $25,000 cash prize for winning a gold. The argument is that other athletes have to go home and work real jobs while athletes from richer countries just train all day. The less training time an athlete has the less even the playing field.

And the $25k seems generous, but in Korea a gold medal winner gets about double that plus a monthly salary for life even if she stops representing her country:

In addition, her annuity score rises from 24 to 114, meaning that she receives a monthly annuity equivalent to one million Won ($862 USD). Kim has been receiving a monthly annuity equivalent to 300,000 Won with the 24 points she earned through one victory at the World Figure Skating Championships, where she earned 20 points, and two third-place finishes, which earned her two points each.

Also worth noting is that I have seen websites (starting from 2008) saying that the US does not reward Olympic medal winners. This could be bad information circulating the web or they may have been a change in 2008.

Business English discussion question

This question was posted on a message board I like for football fans so it is authentic in the sense that it was asked by an American to other Americans he felt some kind of bond with:

Let me preface this by saying this is not me. One of the younger folks today got fired due to their response to a Manager at the firm for which we provide their commercial advertising campaign work. Supposedly, one of the managers there made a remark to him that he did not care for and rather than report it back to me or another leader of our team, they directly answered the client back by stating that they will never be spoken to that way again and there was a curse word or two used. The client complained to our project leader about it and the employee was confronted. It is company policy to be professional at all times and if something is said or done that is not appreciated, to report it to management and it will be taken care of, which normally it is. Basically, the employee stated that thery didn’t trust that we would do anything and thus, they took action on their own. They were terminated immediately for insubordination.

Keep this in mind, from what I found out, what the client said was not harassing or illegal in nature, but it certainly was not nice, unprofessioanl and uncalled for. That being said, this firm does pay us a lot of money for our services and they are demanding. In the economy today, you definitely don’t want to lose clients and thus, I figured our company was simply covering their asses as other bidders have inquired about the client. This person was a hard worker and produced good work and effort. So, I was not pleased that they were fired. I figured a warning or whatever would have been enough. Do you think my company went overboard? I know in the end, it’s about protecting the company’s pocket, but I’m not sure I like how our firm handled this one. And no, we’re doing okay and were lucky to not have layoffs.

Gotta be a discussion class idea in here somewhere: things you don’t say to your wife music video


Hey honey have you gained some weight in your rear-end?

That dress you wear reminds me of my old girlfriend

And where’d you get those shoes? I think they’re pretty lame

Would you stop talking ’cause I’m trying to watch the game

If you’re a man who wants to live a long and happy life

These are the things you don’t say to your wife

I planned a hunting trip next week on your birthday

I didn’t ask you ’cause I knew it’d be OK

Go make some dinner while I watch this fishing show

I taped it over our old wedding video

If you’re a man who wants to live a long and happy life

These are the things you don’t say to your wife

Your cooking is OK but not like mother makes

The diamond in the ring I bought you is a fake

Your eyes look puffy dear, are you feeling ill?

Happy anniversary I bought you a treadmill

If you’re a man who wants to live a long and happy life

These are the things you don’t say to your wife

If your a man who doesn’t want to get killed with a knife

These are the things you don’t say to your wife

@ examples of a conversational tone in public speaking / debate: Sarah Palin & Joe Biden vice presidential debate

Now how good of an example are these two? Good article here. What 2 styles are represented?

“They both sound conversational in totally different styles,” Goman tells WebMD. “Palin’s style says, ‘I’m just like you.’ Her colloquialisms, such as ‘doggone-it,’ were effective for that message.” Biden’s style, Goman says, sent a different message: “I’m knowledgeable and passionate. I’m not intimidating, but I’m vice presidential.”

The article goes on to evaluate speech pattern, tone of voice, posture, gesture (you don’t see all the gestures in this shortened video of course), and facial expression. It’s a crical view that talks about what they did well and what should have been better. Certainly things can be improved but this video shows that public speaking can be conversational and that each speaker can find his/her own style.

Another sopranos scene to use in advanced conversation

This scene contains lots of curses but the idea is for students to watch without sound. First they describe what’s happening and then they create their own dialogue (3 characters = Chris the angry guy, Gino the guy who almost went in front of Chris, and the clerk).

This one might be usable but it does contain “eat shit”…

This is the same scene only longer. It contains “motherf*cker” which I am much less comfortable with in my classroom. I may do the longer scene with no sound and again have students explain what’s going on and create a dialogue.