The Teachers Magazine #326: Culture
Edited by Samuel Christensen (chief editor), Jonas Nielsen, Mads Oestergaard and Vivian Alexandru
The Battle of the English Language By: Samuel Christensen The Fighters ”I should of listened more in school.” ”The school could of done more to teach my son English.” These two sentences say it all. Firstly, they state what every ESL teacher hears quite often, that they failed at teaching ESL to their students. Often the parents disprove of what their children end up knowing, and blame the school and teachers. Secondly, the sentences show how the English language develops outside the school and the academic world. In school, every student learns at some point, that the correct phrasing is “should have” and “could have” but that is being challenged by the ongoing merging of all the English dialects of the world, through the internet in particular. As an English teacher in Denmark, I spend quite a lot of time online, finding interesting articles about didactics and useful experiences in teaching. Online I have noticed the use of “could of” and “should of” many times, and each time I see it, it hurts. Why on Earth, would people say such nonsense? Well, after noticing an American friend, use this phrasing, I confronted him with it. He told me that, it is just the way the language evolves; “could of/should of” sounds a lot like “could have/should have” so thereby it can easily get confusing. After hearing this, it was clear to me that there are two sides to the development of English: The written and the spoken. The Origins The development of the English language is undeniable. It has always developed. It started with a mixture of Germanic Old Norse, from the Viking influence in Great Britain back in the day. Then Latin by way of French had its way with the mixture, and English started to become what we know it to be today. Then the colonial age came, and the British Empire, became the largest the world has ever seen. English became a global language, and everywhere,
people had to learn it as well as their native language. A good illustration of this can be seen in the satirical play, based on the story of Robinson Crusoe in Man Friday, by Adrian Mitchell in 1983, wherein Crusoe is trying to teach Friday English. “This is my island! This is Master’s island, and Master is an Englishman and so this island is part of England and so we will talk English, English. And Friday will talk English too.” In the story Friday is of course confused by this, but eventually learns somewhat proper English, greatly influenced by his native language. Now, the way this works, is that every native language, had an impact on the spoken English in the given country. Suddenly a lot of variations of English exist, as they still do. Then the information age came upon us. Technology opened worldwide communication, and people across the world needed to be able to understand each other. The common denominator in this was English. A different variant of English in every country existed and everyone could sort of understand it. Mostly because accent derivations and cultural differences were mostly not present in the written English, which luckily was an universal entity without much change. The spoken English however, was quite a different story. Written vs Spoken In John Agard’s poem “Listen to Mr Oxford Don” the narrator is talking with a Jamaican accent, and the entire poem is written in Jamaican. Agard uses this to prove a point, similar to mine. By personifying Jamaican English, Agard talks of how different forms of English are dangerous to the language itself. “I dont need no axe, to split up yu syntax, I dont need no hammer, to mash up yu grammar.”
As seen in this, the language is written phonetically. And the use of it states how the war on the English language works. If one of my students wrote like this, I would have failed said student as the student’s teacher. But I, of course, do not teach my students to write like this, but we still see so many abbreviations of written English, especially online, where the language is spelled phonetically. And with the students spending more and more time online, reading and writing this language, they get used to it, and start using it themselves. And this happens all over the world. Now this is not productive. As Agard’s poem says: ”I making de Queen’s English accessory to my offence.” It is degrading the Queen’s English, and turning it into nonsense. Even though many of us still understand what is being said, since we read aloud in our heads and recognizes the language, many does still not understand it. Herein lies the problem. We all need to be able to understand written
English. Dialects in spoken English are natural and cultural, but they do not belong on paper. The Future If written English in the future becomes more phonetical, the language will develop into a chaotic entity, with a lot of miscommunication between people. Whereas, the spoken will continue to evolve and keep getting influenced by culture and geography, as it very well should. But imagine what would happen if everyone wrote like Agard in his poem. How difficult it would be to understand it. It would be the ruin of English as a complete language. Written English has to get back on track, there must be a common denominator to ensure understanding and successful communication throughout the world. This recovery starts with us teachers, who must make sure our students never write “I could of made you a kup of coffi.” Even though they can easily say it, and still make perfect sense
English - The great unifier? By: Jonas Nielsen. Long ago, I was on my way home from a friend's apartment quite late at night. As I walked past the train station I came by a man who asked me for help. I have always fancied myself a bit of a good Samaritan, so of course I offered my help in any way I could. The man was from Portugal, and he was trying to buy a train ticket, but the ticket machine only accepted credit cards, and to the man's great despair he only had cash. Well the problem was quickly worked out between the two of us. I bought a ticket with my card and sold it to him, and I left the man a whole lot happier. But how did a man from Portugal who didn't speak Danish and a man from Denmark, who at the time thought the Portuguese spoke Spanish, manage to communicate and solve the problem? Well of course we both spoke English.
All who have read their bible, know of the story of the tower of Babel. In the story all of the world's people spoke one language, and with this great communicative advantage, the people of earth could work so well together that the limits of what they could do were endless. And even God seemed to feel threatened. In the story, God is successful in dividing the people, by giving them many different languages, so that they don't understand one another, and can't help a man from Portugal unless they speak Portuguese. I see English as new way for the people of Earth to find their common voice. But when English is spoken in all the remote corners of the Earth, how will it evolve? Will the Chinese, the Turks and The Danes continue to follow the directives of the English on how " their " standard English should be spoken for it to be called English?
Or have English, in its role as an international language been lost for its original owners ?
For English to be able to achieve the amazing feat of becoming the new language of the Tower of Babel, the most important thing is that we can all understand it. In that regard having a Standard English serves to preserve it as a common language for all of the world. If the Hungarians create their own version, and the Turks do the same, and then the Danes follow with their own brand of English, we are left in the same situation as we are now, and all the great hopes of the world becoming, not just an international village, but an international village with one language will be lost. The English language will evolve, that cannot be stopped, and maybe it should not be. If the goal is to spread English as far as possible, and have people becoming not just familiar with it, but becoming masters, so that their proficiency rivals that of their L1, they have to take the language to heart and make it their own. And hopefully the process of making the language their own will result in English dialects and not a new forms of English.
The responsibility of the English Teacher.
A great deal of the responsibility for how English will evolve, lies on our shoulders, the English teachers. Our job is not to be the caretakers
for "proper English " whatever that is, that would not work anyway. The kids are already communicating in English on the internet, and creating their own form of English, that might sometimes fall a bit far from what most people would call proper English. If we try to act as Language fascist we will not reach the new generations. The whole point of having an international language is that people from different parts of the world are able to communicate, and kids on the Internet are doing just that, so it should be encouraged, not looked down upon. That doesn't mean that you should do nothing. What English teachers should do, is to help the language evolve in a way, that insures its capabilities as the ultimate unifier remains. You can't stop the language from evolving from the standard English that is spoken in its homeland of England, and why should you bother? Languages have always evolved, If I met one of my Danish ancestors from the middle ages, I doubt very much that I would be able to help him buy a train ticket. The only difference is that never before have the same language evolved all over the world at the same time, so there is a much bigger chance that some places it will become almost unrecognizable. For it is understandable that the users of English from both old colonies who already speak it, and new user from countries like France and Brazil will want and use the opportunity to make it their own. If we are all to use English in our daily lives, then we will feel a form of ownership towards it, and if it is common property then we will all have the chance to shape it. This is where it will be the English teacher's mission to make sure the language never evolves too far from " standard English " people from all the corners of the Earth might change it to suit their needs, but English must never lose it ability to unify. The most important
part, is that English remains a language that we can all go to when abroad. A language that can be used
to help out a man from a different country, the bridge the gap between nations.
Learning English By: Mads Oestergaard “Every day he taught me more of his language. It was hard. Our language is more beautiful. But our language only made him angry.” (Friday speaking about Crusoe, in Adrian Mitchell’s “Man Friday”) As a teacher, this sentence from the character Friday, contains a great essence of the entire stage of learning English. When young students face the subject ‘English’ for the first time in school, it’s possible to think that they often will ask the teacher common questions as “why are we going to learn a new language?”. They may not understand why it is so important to learn an international language, when they already have their beautiful native language. That is how you can relate to Friday, when he sounds pretty confused about the reason, why he is learning a new language. Then he explains that Crusoe gets angry at him, when he speaks his native language. That is possible to relate to the classroom; maybe not the word ‘angry’, but when you as a foreign language teacher want your students to learn a new language; you really don’t want to hear them speak their native language, while you’re having a lesson. This will slow down the whole process to learn the new language fluently. But is it okay to force young children into learning a new language, while we don’t even know if they will need it in the future? Ideas for a whole new ‘English learning concept’ As a modern open-minded teacher, I believe in a future where English is spoken and written all over the world as the main language. I am convinced that it is vital. Think about a world where misunderstandings in conversations, deals, etc. between people and companies would be a rarity. How things would go more smoothly if we all spoke
the same main language. Right now there are so many different types of English (Henry Widdowson, ‘Who owns English today’) that people around the world don’t even know which type of English is the original. We have so many mixed languages as for example ‘French-English’, ‘German-English’ and ‘Danish-English’ where we adopt some words, maybe twists them a bit, and then we nearly have created a third language; not Danish, not English, but Danish-English, which contains so many ‘slang terms’ that British men and women could have trouble understanding the meaning of a sentence in this language. Right now English is on schedule from 3rd grade as an ordinary foreign language lesson. Why don’t we use the English language in other lessons – and in different ways - than we’re doing at the moment? Here I’m thinking about an example as sports in school, and I will take the point of view from my own native language, Danish; you could easily and smoothly introduce some English words through these lessons. It’s possible to have a sports lesson in English. This is how to start pretty simple from basic. If you, as teachers, could implement such tiny little pieces of English language every day to the students, it would make an incredible difference without putting an incredible amount of extra effort into it from the teachers. I do also believe that students actually would find it quite fun to learn English words and phrases in a different way, instead of always sitting in the classroom with the teacher standing in front of the class, talking about English things which can be difficult to relate to for the children. A lot of children also find it easier to learn while they are physical active, instead of sitting passive on the chair repeating words. With this, I don’t mean that you’re supposed to make the ‘repeating’ unimportant, because you can still repeat things while the children are active. If the children
are told to “run 500 meters, do 10 push-ups, 20 situps and a 50 meters sprint” two times a week a whole month, I can assure you that the children have learned these words/sentences to their vocabulary – and they won’t even have seen it as teaching. But I understand that if suggestions like this will be a part of the school systems in a nearly future, we have a lot of nationalists who would seem to be offended. What about our beautiful native language which our ancestors spoke? Would it just disappear? Being proud of your mother-tongue or being excited for the open world of English? I do understand that a lot of people are proud of their native language, and so am I. But, if we take a look into the future, we must admit that native languages are dying. In Denmark we have a language which are spoken by less than 6 million people, and in a world where globalization embraces wider and wider, our language will have absolutely no influence, when we are discussing international communication. As Chinua Achebe says in the text ‘The African Writer and the English language’; “The real question is not whether Africans could write in English but whether they ought to. Is it right that a man should abandon his mother-tongue for someone else’s? (…) But for me there is no other choice. I have been given this language and I intend to use it. I hope, though, that there always will be men who will choose to write in their native
tongue and ensure that our ethnic literature will flourish side-by-side with the national ones. For those of us who opt for English there is much work ahead and much excitement.” This seems right to me about how see the whole perspective of getting a ‘new main language’. Should you ‘betray’ your country and your native language? Maybe your hearts say no, but the international development of communication states a clearly yes. Achebe says that he hopes people will remember their native language and still make use of it. But he also says that there is ‘much excitement’ waiting, for those who try to implement the English language. He makes a statement where he accept English as his main language – not because he doesn’t like his native language – but simply because it’s a fact that the English language is the future, if you want to make yourself clear when you communicate with the rest of the world. A globalizing world So, what can we, as foreign language teachers, do to prepare the children for a world which globalize with record pace? This leads us back to the point that we have to implement English teaching a lot more in schools. It’s necessary that children learn to adapt into a globalized world from very young. We are on the right way, when it has come so far that children no longer ‘switch’ into English, but just speak fluently without giving it a thought, that they actually are speaking English.
Chicken Disasters We had a creative writing contest, wherein the participants where to write a creative text, based on the story, “The Other Side of the Fence” by Witi Ihimaera. They had to write from the youngest boy’s perspective, namely Jimmy Heremaia, whom were supposed to be a successful writer, with neutral perspectives.
The Chickens Disaster By: Vivian Alexandru Whenever I think back on which experience changed my perspective on life the most, as a child, I would not differ from many others, by saying the mistakes of my childhood made me in to who I am now. Getting to know myself and others, through pushing boundaries, is something many go through as children. But I wasn’t even that bad. I was a mess when I hung out with my siblings, but when I was alone with someone, I would become very curious and would begin to reach out for enlightenment, from the adults that surrounded me. But that was not always possible. Sometimes I felt like I was in an outside world of my own, looking in through a window, at shadows on a wall, I couldn’t relate to.
My mother thought she always took great care of me, and was my protective shield for quite some time. Although, sometimes I begin to wonder, whether she did me more harm than good. I think, she unintentionally caged me in and made me afraid to even introduce myself to people before they approached me first.
But one time I got her good. - James! Get over here right now! No questions asked! I could hear from the sound of her voice that I was in trouble. But inside I knew that I would get away with it, because I had learned how to deny all of what she would accuse me of. And I learned it from the best. My brothers and sisters would always help me get away with anything, even though I never even planned on doing anything. At least that they knew of. Still they would give me advice on how to get away with things, while they themselves made a plan on what I should
do. Funny thing was that they would always end up executing the plan themselves, and then I would hang out and run wild with them. after the mission was complete. It was as if we a team of special soldiers, out to find new ways of having fun. - What, Koka? I said, hoping she wouldn’t yell at me. - I just spoke to Mr. Sandler and he says that one of you went in to his henhouse and broke his eggs. - I didn’t do it Koka, I swear. Maybe Awa wanted payback for when Mr.Sandlers mom grabbed her and said she should act as a proper young woman, instead of running around like a wild Maori. Who knows? My mom sighs and sighs, and shakes her head as soon as I finished the sentence, as if she knew I wasn’t telling the truth. - His mother might be an ice cold passive dictator. Sure, I never really did like her. She always accuses you kids of stealing, and all shorts. But she didn’t raise a tempered man. I didn’t think that of Mr. Sandler. Neither did I of his wife Holly. I would have never thought he would lay a hand on my kids. - What!? I asked with a rather angry tone, sprinkled with a bit of disbelief. - He hit Hamene when he saw him, after seeing what happened to his eggs. Someone had smashed his unhatched eggs. She says, as she tries to gather herself after being close to crying. - I wish I could rest at night without wondering what will happen to my chickens. I don’t want everything to be a struggle.. to be a disappointment.. Not others, and neither myself because I know I also have faults. But I am always replacing others peoples eggs, while
mine hatched too early and now are rumored to be all that I didn’t raise them to be. And then she got up and left, and we never spoke of it again. Since this conversation with my mother, my life began to change for the better.
The Chickens Disaster By: Mads Oestergaard […] I heard the knocking on the door. Ann Lee, my sister, shouted that he should leave and that he wasn’t welcome anymore. That ‘he’ was Mr. Jackson; our neighbor. He knocked again and mom opened the door. I couldn’t tell what they were saying, but I felt an atmosphere cold as ice. I felt like I couldn’t breathe – my neck was twisting together and I felt tears in my eyes. I knew what this was about. I knew that I was guilty. But… I just couldn’t handle it. I was so excited about the eggs and the new small chickens inside, that I… I, I don’t know why… but I felt it was time… time to set them free. I didn’t know they weren’t ready to begin their life. I must admit I really liked Mr. Jackson. Him and Ms. Jackson. And their two kids. They were really kind to me and my siblings. Allright, Mr. Jackson tended to become furious once in a while, just because we borrowed his bicycle and stuff like that. We weren’t bad or rude, and we sometimes needed it to get down to the sea. That’s all. I promise. I contain nothing evil, just a lot of curiosity and spontaneity. And they were so interesting that it’s impossible to describe. They had so many things and stuff I’ve had never seen before. Mom and pa’ told me that The Jacksons had travelled to this place, from a country far away. And they were white. White people were always more interesting and dangerous – at least in our mind – than ourselves. Well, this day it seemed that Mr. Jackson was more furious than ever before. I slowly walked into the living room. I saw mom standing towards Mr. Jackson, telling him never to show his face here
again, while Mr. Jackson at the same time was yelling that his eggs were been broken. For a short second Mr. Jackson held in and looked over mom’s shoulder, and looked directly at me. Our eyes made contact and – I guess – he saw pure guiltiness combined with sadness in my eyes. For a few seconds I felt a total silence in the room, except from mom’s shrilling voice which continued to shout of Mr. Jackson. Well, I don’t know if he forgave me that moment, but Mr. Jackson didn’t say a word, turned around and walked out the door and slowly went through the garden and into his own house. I slowly walked into my own room again, while I heard my mom kept swearing and yelling in the living room. In a way I was very thankful to Mr. Jackson that day, because if he had told my mom, what my eyes clearly told him, then I would have gone to bed that night without dinner and with bruises on my body. When mom was in that mood nobody wanted to cross her line. So I felt a strong warm feeling to Mr. Jackson but at the same time I was filled with shame. The next day I sneaked to The Jackson House (mom had told us the evening before that it was forbidden area now!) and knocked on the door. Ms. Jackson opened but didn’t say anything. “Ehm… Hi, Ms. Jackson”, I stammered. “Are you here to see Simon, Jimmy?”, she asked. “Uhm… (at this moment I was shaking nervous) well yes, Ms. Jackson. I think I have something to tell him, but…”. “I’ll go get him. Just come in and sit down, Jimmy”. She walked into their living room, while I found a chair in the kitchen. It was a good and soft chair compared to the chairs made of cold hard tree we had in our own kitchen at home. “Hi Jimmy. I hear you have something to tell me?”. Mr. Jackson entered the room, and meanwhile I felt like growing into a small vegetable. “You see, Mr. Jackson… I have something to admit. Yesterday at early morning, I sneak out and into your
henhouse… you know how much I love animals, and I was so excited about the eggs and the small chicken and… I can’t explain why I did it, but it was me… and I don’t want you to hate my brothers and sisters, you should just hate me, Mr. Jackson”. “Haha…”, Mr. Jackson laughed. “I don’t hate any of you. I don’t hate you, I don’t hate your brothers, I don’t hate your father and I don’t hate your mother even though she can be a tough one sometimes”, he smiled. “But listen to me, Jimmy. In a kid’s life there will be made mistakes. And from those mistakes you will learn. And trust me, ‘cause I believe in you Jimmy, someday you’ll grow up to be a reputable man, who – maybe – like me will tell another kid about mistakes and failures. I saw your eyes yesterday. I saw how sad you were. And it’s even harder to you, than it is to me. I was only waiting for the chickens to come out of their eggs. You waited for the chickens, but because you were too keen you also disappointed me by ruin the eggs. And I know you are a kid who don’t want to hurt people, so when I saw how sad you were yesterday, I totally forgave you. Allright, Jimmy?” For a short moment I just sat there watching Mr. Jackson speaking. In a way he fascinated me. The way he just forgave me for what I’d done. I felt a warm feeling in my body and from that day on I always referred to Mr. Jackson as my friend
The Chicken Disaster By: Jonas Nielsen When I look back on my life, there are only a few memories that really stand out, and even fever I regret. One of those incidents that will forever be burned into the DNA of who I am, is the incident known in my mind only as the Chicken disaster.. It happened on this very day, 26 years ago. Our white neighbors, the Whites were away from home. Me and my siblings loved to spend our time with Mr. White and his family, they were nice people, and
they had the funniest stuff. Once me and my siblings had by accident come about Mr. Whites bicycle, unlocked and unprotected, so we put it one ourselves to take care of it, and brought it home with us. Mr. White did not seem to appreciate our concern for his bikes well being. And now they were away, and me and my siblings just can't help ourselves, we have to go over there. I wish I could take it back, that I could go back and tell my siblings, let's do something else, let's go to the lake. But that is not how life works, so instead I say.. - Hey look! That is Mr. Whites new henhouse. My brother gives me a look I know all too well and asks: - Should we take a look at it? I ask my siblings to stay back and wait for me to check it out first. I move in on the henhouse, silent as a cat. The door cringes on it hinges as I open it. Its dark in the henhouse, I can see dust and feathers in the air, as the sunlight shines in through the door. Slowly I enter, I am being very careful not to leave any evidence, Mr. white is a nice guy, but there is no reason to poke the bear in the eye. I move further into the darkness. The biggest hen in the henhouse, is sitting on its throne in the back. It doesn't make a sound, it just watches me, with its tiny black eyes. I'm afraid of its beak, but slowly I reach for it, and lifts it off its nest. Under the hen, glimmering in the bit of sunlight that reach so far into the henhouse, eight beautiful white eggs lie. They seem so woundable, so innocent. I reach for one, I just want to hold it, protect it from harm. The hen watches me, with its judgeful little eyes, but it remains silent, and still. Slowly I squeeze the egg, at first, nothing happens and then everything happens so fast, the shell cracks, and reveals a tiny yellow bird. I put it back in the nest, and like in a trance I pick up another egg and another, until they are all cracked. I put them back in their place, and covers them with the hen. I walk out of the henhouse, and I never look back.
The Chickens Disaster By: Samuel Christensen I really liked Mr. Simons. He was kind to me and a devout Christian man who wanted the best for his family and enjoy his life. Granted he had great suspicions against us Maori and my family as well but he enjoyed teaching me things about his way of life from England that he brought with him to New Zealand. He used to take his family on picnics, trim the hedges in an aesthetic manner and drink tea all the time. I enjoyed our talks and the stuff he taught me. I was curious about their way of life, and did not quite understand it, which made me even more curious. And his children were great playmates, who we spend a lot of our time with. This Mr. Simons had mixed feelings about, as we often had cultural collisions. Maori and Westerner did not mix well at the time. This provided me and my siblings with a lot of scuffles with Mr. Simon over the years. We often â€œborrowedâ€? stuff from him without asking. Today I would call it stealing, but back then I were taught by my parents about sharing everything and being good. Of course, our definition of good was quite different from his. But we never meant harm to him and his.
A specific incident, which scarred me for life, was what we henceforth referred to as The Chicken Disaster. I was about six or seven years old, and on good term with Mr. Simons. At this time, Mr. Simons had a henhouse with some nice hens providing him with eggs and chicken. Being the curious kid I was, I often went over to ask him about the eggs. Mr. Simons was trying to breed on a good hen to make some more, as the Westerners often do and enjoy. I
did not quite understand at that time as to why it meant so much to him. But when he told me about it with great enthusiasm I got intrigued of course, and would visit him every day, asking about when the eggs are hatching.
At this point, all I knew was that the eggs would one day crack, and small chicken would emerge from them. After about a week of waiting, I got impatient, and went to the henhouse, even though he had specifically told me not to, but I thought we were so good friends that he would not mind. He was at church with his family, and I had faked the flu to stay home from maize picking. When I saw that the eggs had not hatched yet, I wanted to surprise Mr. Simons by hatching all the eggs for him, so that when he came home he would be happy I did. I cracked open the first six eggs in a rapid pace, not being patient or careful. When two eggs were left, I finally noticed something about the broken ones. The small chicken were dead!
Imagine the horror a small six year old gets, when suddenly learning about life and death in such a tragic manner. I realized that I was not supposed to help nature like that, and I paid for it with killing six unhatched chicken. Terrified I ran back home and jumped back into bed, pretending I never got out of it. Poor Mr. Simons blew a socket when he discovered what I had done, and hit my brother in pure frustration. I can forgive him for that one, we did earn certain distrust from him, I see that now. And later when he was apologizing to my mother, and went to see him to say how sorry I was, and our eyes met. I started crying immediately and he seemed sad when he saw me, I guess he knew. I never touched any of Mr. Simonâ€™s stuff again after that day.
Letters to the editor As in continuation from last week’s issue, we keep the debate about East is East (film) going strong. Last week I read an interesting comment on the movie East is East in your newspaper. The commenter stated how the movie was an insult to Muslims. But here is a newsflash for you, the movie is in no way as insulting as your comment! There is almost no homosexuals in your society? you couldn’t be more wrong, there is as many homosexuals in your society, as in any other, but maybe they are just afraid to be open about it, as they risk being stoned to death by some lunatic who believes in a man in the sky. I believe that marrying a man from the east can be an honor, but not a greater honor than marrying a man from the west, both can be cruel to women, and both can be kind good husbands. I don’t want to insult Muslims, but I believe it would be a mistake to overlook the huge problems there are with women’s rights in most Muslim countries, and for the commenter to suggest that there is no problems with husbands beating their wifes in Muslim countries, is an insult to women everywhere. And by the way, who cares whether Muslims and Jews eat pork? Christians don’t follow every rule in their holy book either, and want business is that of anybody ells? Eat pork or don’ eat pork, frankly my dear I don’t give a damn. East is East does not depict Muslims in the best way, but ignorant comments like the one made by this commenter does no better in presenting Muslims like the kind and reasonable people I am sure they can be. -
Jonas Nielsen, Denmark
Last week I read a thoughtful comment on the movie East to East in your newspaper. In the comment there were a lot of directly statements to the movie, about it being judgmental towards Muslims and Islam. I don’t agree on these statements. I realize that Jews and Muslims
don’t eat pork if they are deep believers of their religion. But - in this movie the children of the family have lived their whole life in Great Britain and I believe that they feel more like a Britain than a Pakistani. So because of that, I think the children have chosen to live like their British friends, rather than living like the father expects and wants them to. And what about the arranged marriage thing? I understand that it’s a traditional thing in your culture, but try to realize that if kids grow up in a society where their friends are free to pick the women they want for the rest of their lives, and then your own father choose some random woman to you; maybe you can’t get feelings for her, she isn’t your type and you just don’t seem to fit together – then why should you spend your whole life with her? Homosexuality is also mentioned? You say that there’s nearly zero percent in your population who are homosexual? That’s a joke. Homosexuality isn’t a cultural-defined or religious-defined thing. It’s a human thing. The difference is that homosexuality is accepted in the western society, and that’s why many more people are declared homosexuals. In your society it’s not accepted, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t homosexuals. They’re just hiding it from not being abused by the public. I could continue to discuss your comment, but I will not create anymore disharm. -
Mads Oestergaard, Denmark
The characters in “East is East” I found most intriguing, where the ones of George and Ella. Not only did I miss the part where they genuinely act as equals, but I also think that no amount of laughable remarks, can make me sympathize with George. It is because of the stereotypical representation of George, that he doesn’t seem like a man that Ella would be married to for 25 years, with the common knowledge of his 1st wife living in Pakistan. Around the 1970′s in London a lot of proclamation acts where founded inhibiting discrimination against women in work, education and training. Even in the year of 1971, where the film is set, there were over 4.000 women at the first “Women’s Liberation March”, which took place in London. I would think that a woman at that time, would take and not let herself, her family and her work, be controlled by a man, who can’t even say the one word, he constantly calls his children: stupid. “I tell you stupy, why you no listen. Your bloody son got it.. Here tickle tackle.”
I must admit when they discover that their son Sajit hadn’t gotten his penis circumcised properly, I giggled quite a bit. Both because of the of whole scenario of this important religious costume, not working out as planned, but I also for the first time became taken back, by seeing the Muslims traits of George being radical in his child raising. I just wish the he had compromised a bit more, when discussing these things with Ellen, but I also realize that it wouldn’t have been such a great success if he were to do so. Because in the end I did enjoy the portrayed life of an Anglo-Pakistani and all of the difficulties and good times of being Asian in a British environment. I just needed George to be more
Teaching Culture Karen Risager says that when you learn a second language, you will inevitably learn about the target language’s culture. And vice versa. Those two are connected. She says that it used to be that cultural
appealing, and not hear his son Abdul crying out for him, not to hit his mom: “Dad! Get off her. Stop it!” -
Vivian Alexandru, Denmark
East Is East has been received with mixed feelings. As seen in previous issues of this fine magazine, people are debating whether or not; this movie shows a negative view of religions and culture, namely Islam and Islamic culture. I personally don’t think that it shows a prejudicial view regarding Islam. In the movie, Islam is shown through the father, who runs a strict home and wishes to be respected in his decisions. He does this out of love for his family, and it is obvious he wishes the best for his sons and daughter. That being said, when he resorts to violence and threats, he clearly crosses a boundary and is wrong in his decisions. But I don’t think this is shown as a general view on Islamic people; that they hit their family. I think that the violence he commits is due to his own frustration about whether or not he should embrace western lifestyle, because it is obvious that he knows what he is doing is wrong, and he surely does not take any joy in it. At the end when he is confronted by his entire family, he realizes that he cannot force religion upon them. He can keep his religion to himself, and he decides to do that in the end. This movie shows how cross-breds can chose for themselves. And in the fact that the father realizes this, and we as an audience feel sorry for him and forgive him for hitting his family, the movie does not show a negative view on Islam. En contraire, it shows that western and eastern can be coincided if both parts are up for it. -
Samuel Christensen, Denmark
learning had a low priority, and got no focus in the classrooms. But times are changing, and she says that it is now becoming much more relevant and needed. But culture is a difficult thing to define. And what is it exactly that we need to teach to our students,
when teaching them about culture? Risager says that in its basic form, culture consists of three elements:
Behaviour as in clothing, traditions and how the day to day conversing with stranger for example.
Knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.
She ends up with saying, that with the goal of learning language and culture at the same time, the best way to do so, is having the students study in the given country, thereby diminishing the actual role of the teacher in this matter.
Knowledge as in facts about the given country/culture, this could be religion and history, or geographical places of interest. Attitudes as in ethics, values and morals. By: Samuel Christensen, Jonas Nielsen, Mads Oestergaard and Vivian Alexandru.
Published on May 8, 2013