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Fired for teaching adult ESL students uses of the f word
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Joined: 12 Oct 2009
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding the "curse word" in the classroom, sorry to hear about your troubles. Especially when student is only trying to trip you up or you have to deal with a "politically correct" environment and you end up paying the ultimate price . It's a good lesson though in why we need to act professionally at all times even in a relaxed environment. I would personally put into writing the reason I used the word in the first place, i.e: did a student ask me to explain its meaning ...etc. as some students do ask this legitimately, especially regarding racial slurs or gender related terms which they've heard in the community and then I would explain this to management, letting them know that if they refuse to honour my contract, which probably has no clause stating that swear words will ultimately result in the termination of the contract, that I will promptly ensue the issue legally and my lawyer will be in contact with them. Most schools don't want the reputation of " screwing over" their teachers as they are usually aware of what a "teachers blog" is and so they look to avoid trouble that will result in a bad rep. It's worth a try. As for myself, when students ask me about "touchy" subjects, especially regarding the meaning of certain words and terms, I find the dictionary always comes in useful and have them look up the word for themselves, self explanatory. If they don't like what the see at least they didn't hear it from me. And very often other students will jump in with the explanation or you can simply tell your student that it's a "curse word", or a "derogatory word meaning......." or a "racial slur".... and they can't use such words anywhere without causing offence. I hope things work out for you and remember... there are all kinds of good teaching jobs, if this one doesn't cooperate, blog it. Let everyone know the name of the management and the school. That way you protect other good teachers from being screwed too. All the best. Barbara
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Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we definitely have a duty of care towards students. If there is a chance that they might use inappropriate or offensive language outside of the classroom then it is our duty as teachers to address that. The classroom should be the kind of open environment in which we are able to do just that.

The bottom line is that these words are a part of the English language which (unless I'm very much mistaken!) is what we are employed to teach.

As long as they are approached sensitively I really don't see the problem with teaching their appropriate usage.

Also, the school you work for should have a policy about this kind of thing, which you should be well informed of in advance. If they have failed to implement this then they have no one but themselves to blame when the complaints start coming in.

Not to mention the fact that they should be ready to stand up for and support their staff, not just bow to the uninformed whim of the client!
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Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:26 pm    Post subject: Fired for teaching ESL student Reply with quote

I've taught the subject a number of times to college students and adults. It doesn't generate nearly as much interest or excitement as you might expect. The class is generally frozen--I wouldn't dream of having them practice, having it be interactive. I teach it as euphemisms. I make columns on the board. In the first column I write the "dirty" words, in three groups, sex, bathroom stuff, and religion. In the other columns are the substitutes. The next column is the French equivalent; the third column is the Latin equivalent. Then there are the English first letter "sounds like" words. Some joky words. Finally, the sanitized version. It's really a fascinating subject to me. I talk about what kind of person would say words from each column. For instance, BUTT, derriere, gluteus maximus, bottom, tush, rear. HELL, ..., heck, the bad place, heavens. My God, Gee, Gosh, Gracious, My Goodness. For the "dirty words" I don't say them aloud, just use my lips. As an old lady I don't think anyone would fire me for teaching this stuff. Maybe I have an advantage there.
It's an important part of pragmatic instruction, but you must always be a step ahead of the boss, so when in doubt, ask first before you teach.
I was able to teach religion in China by teaching it as geography, talking about all religions, country by country, an important part of their opening up policy, but I could never teach it as something they should personally take up.
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

genkiness wrote:
I have been searching for a good published reference that I can refer my students to whenever the subject is broached. Thus, when the subject is brought up, I can explain that I am not allowed to discuss profanity in "this" institution, however, they can (and should) research it on their own.

Take a look at Michael Swan's "Practical English Usage" (one of my favourite English grammar books) which has a section on this subject looking at usage and the "strength" of these words.
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Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:53 pm    Post subject: Cursing Reply with quote

This is one response: Hope this firing results in new and better opportunities: We've really sunk into a pit when we think cursing in a professional setting is a new or better opportunity.

I've taught abroad for 7 years and think your use of the "f' word is probably just the last of many things they don't like about you.
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Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:00 am    Post subject: 'Polite" cuss words Reply with quote

First of all, it's highly unlikely that any of our students don'tt know the 'f' word. I have read that the most commonly recognized English words worldwide are

That's right - f--k is the 3rd most recognized English word on the planet.

I have had 3 year old Cambodian children (impoverished beggars with mothers nearby) shout 'f--k you' when people do not give them money.

What I do - cuz I really think it's useful - is to have a little game - pointing out that English speakers do cuss a lot (at least the Brits, Yanks, Canucks, Ozzies - not sure about Kiwis or South Africans/Irish).....

But that we also use 'polite' cuss words that you are much more likely to hear when something goes 'wrong' - for ex., a waiter drops a spoon in a restaurant, the airline check-in clerk discovers her pen is out of ink, etc. They certainly don't say 'f--k it,' eh?

Then I write these words on the board and they have to guess what actual cuss word that 'polite' word is a substitution for.

fudge / fricking


Guess what? My little board 'quiz' always gets 100% accuracy in translation from students, i.e., they already know EVERY cuss word (and spell them accurately, too!). I only do this with college kids, though I did do it with 2 middle school boys I tutored - one was exceptionally fluent. (Plus Koreans cuss a lot anyway.)

I think it's useful - most are not aware that we have other polite words to use rather than cuss words - and I'm sure some would scratch their heads if they hear someone say 'oh, shoot!" (and maybe wonder if the crazy American has a gun?) or be perplexed when they check their dictionaries and discover that 'oh, darn' seems to be related to sewing.

As for the original poster - I agree with others - how he brought it up was the problem - maybe some student did complain...

I will get into a bit of 'cussword' usage when we do fudge/fricking, and explain that the 'f' word rarely has anything to do with sex - it's just an expletive that can be a noun or adjective
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Joined: 24 Mar 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am so shocked that so many people are writing against the use of the word in class. My school has a policy that any word that the students brings up is fair game. It is important that students not only know the word (and the varied meanings it has) but also in what circumstances it is appropriate.

The word itself is so important and used so commonly that in a meeting once we had all of the teachers go over the different phrasal verbs that can be made using f*ck. My personal favorite is using it as an intensifier (e.g. that was f*cking awesome!)

I cannot imagine why a language teacher would not teach a word out of fear of taboos.

I think you should fight this to keep your job and your visa!
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:31 am    Post subject: Unfair Dismissal Reply with quote

You would definitely benefit from a call to the Dept of Employment and Industrial Relations - call 131628. They will tell you to try to work it out with your employer first but if this fails then they will take it on and get you the money that you are defintiely owed. Good luck and let us know how you get on Smile
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neil davies

Joined: 23 Nov 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:56 am    Post subject: swear words Reply with quote

I have conducted lessons on swear words to small groups of adult classes using Swan's Practical English Usage, which has a few pages dedicated to the topic. I believe that it is legitimate and appropriate material for classes where the students are mature and are either intending to study or work in an English speaking country, or are already doing so.
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Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Posts: 3
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:10 am    Post subject: Teaching the f word Reply with quote

Perhaps most, but not all students know the meaning of the f word. Just this year, I was working in Mexico with a group of health professionals who were preparing for jobs in the US. Their English ranges from high intermediate to advanced. They were watching an Irish movie in an effort to expose themselves to the many different accents of native English speakers, in preparation for the IELTS. The f word was used in just about every scene. Finally, one of the students asked , "What is f*ck?" Luckily, one of the others explained it to her, using the Mexican equivalent (which is different from the one used in other Spanish-speaking countries). I was grateful, but would have definitely explained it to her if no one else had.

If educated, relatively sophisticated people with high-level skills in English, who live not far from the border and have been to the US, don't know the meaning of this word, we have to consider whether or not it's worth addressing this subject. I think it is.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:25 am    Post subject: Has no one studied the history of the English Language? Reply with quote

I am finding that language teachers seem to be ignorant of the history of the English language. I minored in English but took the hard stuff...linguistics, grammar and composition. The linguistics course was taught by the head of the English Department and was a worthy professor. In the early 60's when a southern belle heard nasty language and blushed, this professor wrote the three Anglo-Saxon infinitives on the blackboard so that all could see. He did not need to speak them. He simply stated that these were all the oldest words in the English language: pisan, fucan, shitan. The belles giggled and blushed but every one of them knew what they meant. And after a moment or two, he erased the board and adjourned the class. No one protested or called him down.

Looking at our history, the Norman French knew variations of these from vulgar French via vulgar Latin. But the clergy gave us urinate, fornicate, and deficate. And such a history lesson would be hard to fault if handled with some degree of finesse.
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a few points to make on this issue:

(1) It is not posssible to tell people, "Don't use these words," without reference to the words themselves.

(2) A word is a word, academically speaking. A word is only "vulgar" or "foul" when used in context. Would the DoS in question find "bloody" equally objectionable? No? It means the same thing as the F-word, when used in context by a Brit. These words, and others, are listed in many dictionaries. Are such dictionaries banned from the school, also?

(3) Even when used in context by a native speaker, it seldom refers to the sexual act. It is most often used as a modifier, to emphasize or characterize a quality of something. Such use needs to be explained to students so they can avoid INCORRECT use. This is an academic point, not a moral one.

(Cool Students WILL hear this word in their daily lives. They will hear it used on the street, on television, and in the movies. As such, it is a legitimate subject for study. If the state tolerates broadcast of the word, schools have no moral authority to prohibit use of the word.

(5) Students will use the F-word on the school premises and even in classes. Are such students expelled for doing so? Terminating a teacher for referring to the word in an academic context while allowing students to use it without consequence sets a double standard. Either the word is tolerated, or it is not.

(6) Substituting the F-word with other "acceptable" words does not obviate the motivation and intent of the user. As such, "fudge" or "shoot" are equally "vulgar" in the same context. Will the DoS terminate a teacher for this behavior also?

(7) Your students hated you. They were simply looking for any excuse to get you termintated. If you hadn't fallen into their trap, they would have fabricated another lie to serve the purpose.
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am presently not teaching ESL, I am however, a therapeutic counsellor at a local high school.
The F-word brings a lot of students into my office. My colleagues send anyone who uses it in class to see me.My favorite resource is the Advanced Oxford English Dictionary, There, under "F", you will find the word in question.
It is spelled out and tells you what it means, including a few choice idioms.
It also comes with a caveat regarding its use: EXPRESSION OF UTTER FRUSTRATION OR ANGER.
To my colleagues I explain that the reason why we carry the word in our vocabulary at all is exactly for such occasions, when we have hit the thumb for the second time with the hammer, and "Jiminy Cricket!!" JUST WON'T DO.
Also, when many things have not gone right, the parents have just indicated their intention to divorce, no food in the fridge, missed the bus to school on account of all the upheaval, yes, people, "f" is a rather adequate, if not widely tolerated expression for just that kind of frustration.
I applaud anyone who will find the word in the dictionary and teach its use.
Language is a multi-layered tool for different people to express themselves. Unless you are hurting someone with your words you should not be limited (or compelled to use) language dictated by someone's sensitivities - Sooner or later language will be dictated by those who define appropriateness.
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Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:19 am    Post subject: All advice is bad advice. Discuss. Reply with quote

Thanks fellow Earthlings, you have all reassured me tremendously. The truth is out there. The truth is in there, too.

I have deliberately misled you all to get your personal opinions. I would respectfully ask everyone not to post any more replies on this topic.

Available to everyone? Everywhere? Even in a public primary school? Google "taboo English worksheets". How many?

Google "Canberra fails to regulate visa schools" (or something like that...)

If you have found this, look towards the bottom of the 2nd page, and google the name of the person quoted. This is all you need. Head towards the light.

Please don't do anything else. I have strong reason to believe that they have used my email/social-networking sites to find just cause for making me walk the plank.

I ask everyone to respect my right to determine what is in my best interest.

If they're reading this, they may leave the country, and justice will not be served.

Ask whoever runs this site to delete the entire posting, if you could do that for me.

'yes we can!"

No, you can't.

This is between me and him. Stay out of it.

Much love, your brother from another mother.

I really don't need anyone's help in this matter.

Again, if you reply to this, it may harm any chance I have when this gets to the High Court.
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Joined: 20 Sep 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 6:31 am    Post subject: ` F ' word. Reply with quote

Hi, I found that, generally speaking, the Australians use that word as part of their vocabulary on a daily basis; more than any other country I've been to. Not, to say that it is acceptable under any circumstance to jokingly use that word in front of any associates. ' I would use this experience as a blessing'. Look at the positive side of your situation. You get the chance to find a new job and be grateful that it wasn't your ex-wife that was greedy and took you to the cleaners.That would be bloody hell mate! Don't worry about finding lawyers.They like money. Just remember this! Today is tomorrow, that I was so worried about yesterday.
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