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Re: CHAT: Spot the nationality, was Jak se ji v USA?

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  • Jan Vanek jr.
    ... ran ... Does it have anything to do with that old obsevation how we tend to frown all the time while Americans keep smiling (translated to lip tension, i.
    Message 1 of 14 , Jul 29, 2005
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      --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <jpklists@s...> wrote:

      > One of the best ways to tell whether someone is American or not,
      > without looking at eating habits, is to examine the position and
      > tension of their lips. On a plane to England a couple years ago, I
      ran
      > about an 85% accuracy rate in guessing who was American and who was
      > British just by looking at the lip position.

      Does it have anything to do with that old obsevation how we tend to
      frown all the time while Americans keep smiling (translated to lip
      tension, i. e. EU = tensed even in smile, US = relaxed), or is there
      something subtler?


      > My ESL students consider me some kind of clairvoyant at that "who's
      > from where" came and can't figure out how I can speak the right
      > language to the right person without having been told where they're
      > from and usually without hearing them speak. With some experience,
      > it gets pretty easy.

      So there are even regional/national differences, or were you speaking
      just about the choice between English and the default "other" language
      defined by context?

      --
      Jan Vanek jr.
    • James Kirchner
      ... It s subtler. For example, there s a certain position some of the British have at times in which the upper lip is stiffened and extended, and the lower
      Message 2 of 14 , Jul 29, 2005
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        On Friday, July 29, 2005, at 08:54 AM, Jan Vanek jr. wrote:

        > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <jpklists@s...> wrote:
        >
        > > One of the best ways to tell whether someone is American or not,
        > > without looking at eating habits, is to examine the position and
        > > tension of their lips.  On a plane to England a couple years ago, I
        > ran
        > > about an 85% accuracy rate in guessing who was American and who was
        > > British just by looking at the lip position.
        >
        > Does it have anything to do with that old obsevation how we tend to
        > frown all the time while Americans keep smiling (translated to lip
        > tension, i. e. EU = tensed even in smile, US = relaxed), or is there
        > something subtler?

        It's subtler. For example, there's a certain position some of the
        British have at times in which the upper lip is stiffened and extended,
        and the lower jaw is pulled back. I can imitate this position, but I
        can't explain it well. Anyway, I've never seen an American make it.
        There's another British one where both lips are curled inward a bit and
        the corners of the mouth are spread more than an American would do.
        There are a variety of European lip positions that are not common in
        North America, and it's usually that the Europeans' lips are tenser,
        and the Americans' are looser. If you want a quick introduction to the
        difference, compare pictures of American politicians and German
        politicians laughing.

        Note that many Europeans have told me they can spot Americans by the
        way we walk and sit.

        > > My ESL students consider me some kind of clairvoyant at that "who's
        > > from where" came and can't figure out how I can speak the right
        > > language to the right person without having been told where they're
        > > from and usually without hearing them speak.  With some experience,
        > > it gets pretty easy.
        >
        > So there are even regional/national differences, or were you speaking
        > just about the choice between English and the default "other" language
        > defined by context?

        Often it's got nothing to do with the language. Physically, I can
        easily tell a Nigerian from a Somali from an Ethiopian from a West
        Indian, even though their accents are similar and the rest of my
        students think they're all "just black". It's also usually easy to
        tell a Cambodian from a Vietnamese. Sometimes it has to do with dress
        and with various habits of movement.

        Here's an example: I'm walking into a building at a college where I
        work, and there is a young woman who can't find the room she's looking
        for. She's moving around quickly with gestures that American women
        would not make, too "flowery". She's wearing very tight jeans and
        heavy makeup, and she has bleached white hair, light grey eyes and
        thick lips. Her blouse is cut low enough to show her cleavage, and
        she's even got makeup on her chest and cleavage. I said to her, "Shto
        ishchitye?" and with great surprise she responded, "Xau did you know I
        can speak Russian?!"

        The younger men from the Balkans walk around seeming like they're
        looking for a chance to beat somebody, even though they aren't. Young
        guys from Syria and Iraq tend to have expensive haircuts and big
        jewelry. Men from Yemen are often thin and can have triangular-looking
        heads. When people from near the Yellow River in China speak English,
        they mistakenly replace [l] with [n] and vice versa; people from other
        parts of China don't do that. Taiwanese will usually have a Western
        air about them that other Chinese don't. Many young Russian and
        Ukrainian women will dress and behave super-feminine by American
        standards. If an Indian says "yeny" instead of "any" and "wout"
        instead of "out", that person's native language is Telugu. If an
        Indian's surname is the name of a Christian saint (Joseph, John, etc.)
        or the surname is Portuguese, that person is from Kerala province, and
        his native language is Malayalam.

        I can also expect differing behaviors. Typically, but not always, the
        Middle Eastern or Albanian guy with the expensive haircut and big
        jewelry will not study much, and he will try to pass the class by
        having a lot of personal conversations with me and kissing my prdel a
        lot. Very often, but not always, the Russian or Ukrainian woman with
        the ultra-feminine dress and mannerisms will flirt and act "helpless",
        expecting me to do her special favors and let her pass just based on
        how adorable she is and what a he-man she makes me feel like.

        The people who cheat on exams are usually from Poland or the Balkans,
        sometimes from the former Soviet Union, never from East Asia or South
        America. If a Pole is caught cheating and given a zero, he will turn
        red with shame, approach the instructor later and ask for another
        chance. If the answer is "no", he will thank the teacher and accept
        that. If the cheater caught is Albanian, there is about a 30% chance
        he will have a wild outburst of anger that will make the professor and
        the other students fear he will become physically violent. Sometimes
        this type of guy will unsuccessfully try to make the class revolt
        against the professor, and he'll take a distorted version of the events
        to the dean of the department.

        A few of the male students from the former Yugoslavia resent being
        under the authority of a woman professor (although I've never
        personally witnessed this), and a few of the Muslims resent being under
        the authority of a non-Muslim (I *have* witnessed this!).

        Many European students don't want to have an ESL teacher who is a
        mulatto Jamaican with a slight accent, even if her English is perfect.
        They will try to escape her class. The same students, however, like
        having a Romanian teacher with a heavier accent and English that is
        merely almost perfect. Many East European students don't want to be
        under the authority of an ESL teacher from Russia, even if her English
        is almost perfect, and I was called to intervene once in a rebellion
        over that. That was a few years ago, though, so tensions may have
        eased by now.

        All of these and more are things that most experienced ESL instructors
        in my area know to one degree or another, but you can't say them out
        loud, because that would be stereotyping. The general belief at
        American colleges is that we should "celebrate multi-cultural
        diversity" while at the same time administratively denying that there
        are any differences in various people's cultural behavior.

        Jamie


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • martina.silpoch@sbcglobal.net
        ... looking ... her, Shto ... I ... Your description of anewly arrived Russian woman is to a T, hahaha. But you forgot one thing - what about the cloud of
        Message 3 of 14 , Jul 29, 2005
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          > Here's an example: I'm walking into a building at a college where I
          > work, and there is a young woman who can't find the room she's
          looking
          > for. She's moving around quickly with gestures that American women
          > would not make, too "flowery". She's wearing very tight jeans and
          > heavy makeup, and she has bleached white hair, light grey eyes and
          > thick lips. Her blouse is cut low enough to show her cleavage, and
          > she's even got makeup on her chest and cleavage. I said to
          her, "Shto
          > ishchitye?" and with great surprise she responded, "Xau did you know
          I
          > can speak Russian?!"
          >
          Your description of anewly arrived Russian woman is to a T, hahaha.
          But you forgot one thing - what about the cloud of heavy Russian
          perfume preceeding her quite a few yards and hanging around for half
          an hour after she had left the building?
        • ing.Sárka Rubková
          Hi ... Basically, there are two ways how to correctly hold knife and fork. The first one is the pencil-like way and the second one is hiding the handle in
          Message 4 of 14 , Jul 30, 2005
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            Hi

            > The other people are right. The "typical" American style is to start
            > with the fork in your left hand (upside down from the European style,
            > so with the prongs curving upward), cut all your meat, switch the fork
            > to the right hand, and start stabbing the pieces.

            Basically, there are two ways how to "correctly" hold knife and fork. The
            first one is the pencil-like way and the second one is hiding the handle in
            one's palm. The fork has prongs curving upwards.

            > Also, it's acceptable here to eat a lot of things with your hands that
            > people probably would not eat that way in Europe. For example, fried
            > chicken is typically eaten with the hands here.
            Fried chicken is eaten by hands here (even official guidelines of conduct
            allow that) as well as other flying poultry

            Sarka
          • kzgafas
            ... not, ... and ... ago, I ... who was ... to ... lip ... there ... extended, ... but I ... it. ... bit and ... do. ... in ... tenser, ... to the ... the ...
            Message 5 of 14 , Jul 31, 2005
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              --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <jpklists@s...>
              wrote:
              >
              > On Friday, July 29, 2005, at 08:54 AM, Jan Vanek jr. wrote:
              >
              > > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <jpklists@s...>
              wrote:
              > >
              > > > One of the best ways to tell whether someone is American or
              not,
              > > > without looking at eating habits, is to examine the position
              and
              > > > tension of their lips.  On a plane to England a couple years
              ago, I
              > > ran
              > > > about an 85% accuracy rate in guessing who was American and
              who was
              > > > British just by looking at the lip position.
              > >
              > > Does it have anything to do with that old obsevation how we tend
              to
              > > frown all the time while Americans keep smiling (translated to
              lip
              > > tension, i. e. EU = tensed even in smile, US = relaxed), or is
              there
              > > something subtler?
              >
              > It's subtler. For example, there's a certain position some of the
              > British have at times in which the upper lip is stiffened and
              extended,
              > and the lower jaw is pulled back. I can imitate this position,
              but I
              > can't explain it well. Anyway, I've never seen an American make
              it.
              > There's another British one where both lips are curled inward a
              bit and
              > the corners of the mouth are spread more than an American would
              do.
              > There are a variety of European lip positions that are not common
              in
              > North America, and it's usually that the Europeans' lips are
              tenser,
              > and the Americans' are looser. If you want a quick introduction
              to the
              > difference, compare pictures of American politicians and German
              > politicians laughing.
              >
              > Note that many Europeans have told me they can spot Americans by
              the
              > way we walk and sit.
              >
              > > > My ESL students consider me some kind of clairvoyant at
              that "who's
              > > > from where" came and can't figure out how I can speak the right
              > > > language to the right person without having been told where
              they're
              > > > from and usually without hearing them speak.  With some
              experience,
              > > > it gets pretty easy.
              > >
              > > So there are even regional/national differences, or were you
              speaking
              > > just about the choice between English and the default "other"
              language
              > > defined by context?
              >
              > Often it's got nothing to do with the language. Physically, I can
              > easily tell a Nigerian from a Somali from an Ethiopian from a West
              > Indian, even though their accents are similar and the rest of my
              > students think they're all "just black". It's also usually easy
              to
              > tell a Cambodian from a Vietnamese. Sometimes it has to do with
              dress
              > and with various habits of movement.
              >
              > Here's an example: I'm walking into a building at a college where
              I
              > work, and there is a young woman who can't find the room she's
              looking
              > for. She's moving around quickly with gestures that American
              women
              > would not make, too "flowery". She's wearing very tight jeans and
              > heavy makeup, and she has bleached white hair, light grey eyes and
              > thick lips. Her blouse is cut low enough to show her cleavage,
              and
              > she's even got makeup on her chest and cleavage. I said to
              her, "Shto
              > ishchitye?" and with great surprise she responded, "Xau did you
              know I
              > can speak Russian?!"
              >
              > The younger men from the Balkans walk around seeming like they're
              > looking for a chance to beat somebody, even though they aren't.
              Young
              > guys from Syria and Iraq tend to have expensive haircuts and big
              > jewelry. Men from Yemen are often thin and can have triangular-
              looking
              > heads. When people from near the Yellow River in China speak
              English,
              > they mistakenly replace [l] with [n] and vice versa; people from
              other
              > parts of China don't do that. Taiwanese will usually have a
              Western
              > air about them that other Chinese don't. Many young Russian and
              > Ukrainian women will dress and behave super-feminine by American
              > standards. If an Indian says "yeny" instead of "any" and "wout"
              > instead of "out", that person's native language is Telugu. If an
              > Indian's surname is the name of a Christian saint (Joseph, John,
              etc.)
              > or the surname is Portuguese, that person is from Kerala province,
              and
              > his native language is Malayalam.
              >
              > I can also expect differing behaviors. Typically, but not always,
              the
              > Middle Eastern or Albanian guy with the expensive haircut and big
              > jewelry will not study much, and he will try to pass the class by
              > having a lot of personal conversations with me and kissing my
              prdel a
              > lot. Very often, but not always, the Russian or Ukrainian woman
              with
              > the ultra-feminine dress and mannerisms will flirt and
              act "helpless",
              > expecting me to do her special favors and let her pass just based
              on
              > how adorable she is and what a he-man she makes me feel like.
              >
              > The people who cheat on exams are usually from Poland or the
              Balkans,
              > sometimes from the former Soviet Union, never from East Asia or
              South
              > America. If a Pole is caught cheating and given a zero, he will
              turn
              > red with shame, approach the instructor later and ask for another
              > chance. If the answer is "no", he will thank the teacher and
              accept
              > that. If the cheater caught is Albanian, there is about a 30%
              chance
              > he will have a wild outburst of anger that will make the professor
              and
              > the other students fear he will become physically violent.
              Sometimes
              > this type of guy will unsuccessfully try to make the class revolt
              > against the professor, and he'll take a distorted version of the
              events
              > to the dean of the department.
              >
              > A few of the male students from the former Yugoslavia resent being
              > under the authority of a woman professor (although I've never
              > personally witnessed this), and a few of the Muslims resent being
              under
              > the authority of a non-Muslim (I *have* witnessed this!).
              >
              > Many European students don't want to have an ESL teacher who is a
              > mulatto Jamaican with a slight accent, even if her English is
              perfect.
              > They will try to escape her class. The same students, however,
              like
              > having a Romanian teacher with a heavier accent and English that
              is
              > merely almost perfect. Many East European students don't want to
              be
              > under the authority of an ESL teacher from Russia, even if her
              English
              > is almost perfect, and I was called to intervene once in a
              rebellion
              > over that. That was a few years ago, though, so tensions may have
              > eased by now.
              >
              > All of these and more are things that most experienced ESL
              instructors
              > in my area know to one degree or another, but you can't say them
              out
              > loud, because that would be stereotyping. The general belief at
              > American colleges is that we should "celebrate multi-cultural
              > diversity" while at the same time administratively denying that
              there
              > are any differences in various people's cultural behavior.
              >
              > Jamie

              Plenty of interesting examples, indeed. Have you ever thought of
              something specific (attitudes, patterns, psychology, behaviour)
              concerning ESL teachers?

              K.
            • James Kirchner
              ... I assume there s sarcasm in this, but I ve thought about those matters involving ESL teachers, and students have explained various things to me. You d
              Message 6 of 14 , Jul 31, 2005
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                On Sunday, July 31, 2005, at 06:54 AM, kzgafas wrote:

                > Plenty of interesting examples, indeed. Have you ever thought of
                > something specific (attitudes, patterns, psychology, behaviour)
                > concerning ESL teachers?

                I assume there's sarcasm in this, but I've thought about those matters
                involving ESL teachers, and students have explained various things to
                me. You'd probably be able to tell me a thing or two in that
                department.

                Most ESL teachers in the US are monolingual, so they have no clue from
                firsthand experience how the brain learns language, and some of them
                will go so far in private as to make fun of normal cognitive processes
                in their students. For example, it is well known among psychologists
                who study reading that good readers tend to start by scanning the page
                for clues as to what the text will be about. If there's a picture,
                they'll use that. Otherwise they'll scan the text for words and
                phrases that will orient them. When teaching at a school of mainly
                Iraqi students, I found the American teachers making fun of this
                process by calling it "Where's Waldo?" which is a game from the '80s or
                '90s where you were supposed to find a particular cartoon character in
                a mass of other people.

                Most ESL teachers in the US are not trained in phonetics, phonology,
                morphology and syntax at the level Czech people are before they enter
                high school, so they may have a tendency to make phony psychological
                "diagnoses" of people's accents or other problems rather than helping
                the people fix them. They will claim that certain sounds cannot be
                taught to people from particular countries because they suffer from
                some bogus defect, such as a "learning disability" or even the weird
                diagnosis "phonemic freezing". I find that the students in question
                actually can make the right sounds if you play with the spelling or
                coach them properly. If a Mexican isn't pronouncing the words "yes"
                and "yellow" correctly, just writing the words as "ies" and "ielo" will
                trigger them to say them right. There are some other interesting
                things that can be done with Russians and Czechs, but they're hard to
                explain over e-mail. The last thing the instructor should be doing is
                making a pathological "diagnosis" and based on that not bothering to
                teach the student.

                Most ESL teachers in the US are women at the age where their children
                are entering college or their first grandchildren are being born. (In
                the US that means late 50s and early 60s.) Many were trained as
                elementary to high school teachers, and the combination of age, gender
                and role in the family somehow makes many of them treat their adult
                students as if they were small children or even pets. They will walk
                into a typical American adult ESL class, containing engineers, judges,
                cardiologists, and younger people who have been through very demanding
                foreign school systems, and they will talk to them as if they were
                children. They'll use a condescending tone, act as if they have never
                learned to study, tell them precisely what kind of paper, notebook,
                pencil and pen to buy, and they explain to them the silliest little
                details that adults already know. It's hard to make these teachers
                understand that the students' problem is not lack of maturity and
                academic experience, but just a lack of English.

                There are other types overseas, and I'm sure you could characterize
                those types better than I can. There's the backpacker type who doesn't
                know his own language but thinks he can teach it just by playing games
                and talking about his girlfriend problems to the class. There's the
                foreign-born teacher who claims to speak da Breetish Inklish, but whose
                English is not British. There are a lot of different types.

                One whom I wish I could have witnessed in action was a certain paní
                T-ová at a zakladka in Marianske Lazne, who was unable to hold a
                conversation in English but whose pupils were nonetheless the best of
                the best when they reached high school. She could barely speak, but
                the kids from her classes were very fluent, articulate English speakers
                and really had their grammar nailed down. This was very mysterious, so
                I asked one of her best alumni how she did it. The girl told me that
                she allowed her expertise to be questioned, freely admitted when she
                didn't know something and helped the kids find out the what was correct
                when she didn't know. And she somehow turned the kids into very
                motivated self-teachers, which resulted in kids whose abilities in
                spoken and written English appeared to far surpass her own.

                Jamie


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • kzgafas
                ... children ... (In ... gender ... adult ... walk ... judges, ... demanding ... never ... notebook, ... little ... teachers ... This also a nice example. I
                Message 7 of 14 , Aug 1, 2005
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                  --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <jpklists@s...>
                  wrote:
                  >> Most ESL teachers in the US are women at the age where their
                  children
                  > are entering college or their first grandchildren are being born.
                  (In
                  > the US that means late 50s and early 60s.) Many were trained as
                  > elementary to high school teachers, and the combination of age,
                  gender
                  > and role in the family somehow makes many of them treat their
                  adult
                  > students as if they were small children or even pets. They will
                  walk
                  > into a typical American adult ESL class, containing engineers,
                  judges,
                  > cardiologists, and younger people who have been through very
                  demanding
                  > foreign school systems, and they will talk to them as if they were
                  > children. They'll use a condescending tone, act as if they have
                  never
                  > learned to study, tell them precisely what kind of paper,
                  notebook,
                  > pencil and pen to buy, and they explain to them the silliest
                  little
                  > details that adults already know. It's hard to make these
                  teachers
                  > understand that the students' problem is not lack of maturity and
                  > academic experience, but just a lack of English.

                  This also a nice example. I would say it is just an extreme case of
                  a very general concept sometimes referred to as "cultural
                  ambassadorship".

                  K.
                • James Kirchner
                  ... A big shot in Michigan s TESOL organization told me that part of the role of ESL teachers should be working as advocates for immigrants. I told him that
                  Message 8 of 14 , Aug 1, 2005
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                    On Monday, August 1, 2005, at 06:31 AM, kzgafas wrote:

                    > This also a nice example. I would say it is just an extreme case of
                    > a very general concept sometimes referred to as "cultural
                    > ambassadorship".

                    A big shot in Michigan's TESOL organization told me that part of the
                    role of ESL teachers should be working as advocates for immigrants. I
                    told him that this leads to the immigrants being treated as mascots
                    more than as people, and that they are then used as poster children for
                    the teachers' pet political causes, which often don't benefit the
                    immigrants themselves and may harm them. The immigrants are their own
                    best advocates, and it doesn't even take very long before they have
                    their own lawyers in their midst. I can't see what an ESL teacher can
                    effectively do to be their advocate.

                    Jamie


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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