Teaching Humor: Religious ESL Mix-Ups

17 Feb

Had a rather hilarious ESL fail / miscommunication error with one of my Ethics students this past semester. 

One of the chapters in our textbook covers the professional approach to ethics taken by various religions including Hinduism and Islam.  Consequently, we spend part of a class discussing the fact that Islam is based upon the Koran and that it is very important to Muslims and effects how they approach Business (some of my students will be working in Dubai so this is a good lesson for them to learn!).

The day before the final, one of my students came to see me. This girl is adorable, brilliant, and a good friend of mine, but her ESL is not perfect and she has some trouble understanding all of the content.  

She said she had a problem with the whole “Koran” thing because “you [the teacher] kept saying it was Islam, but I always thought the Koran was Christian.”

0_0 ? I could understand them not knowing what the Koran was – many of my students don’t know the name of the religious book. But how did we come to the conclusion that the Koran was Christian?

Then she added: “you know, the higher Koran are atheist and the bottom, South Koran are Christian. I don’t think there is a lot of Islam in Koran.”

😛 Aha! The light went one! 

“Korea? Do you mean North and South Korea?” 

Hahaha! Once I understood the mix-up it was easy to see the problem. Because of the accent here in Henan, “Korean” often sounds a lot like “Koran.” That long E sound is extremely important.  And they look similar too, not helping.

Once we went over the fact in simpler terms that the Koran was a book and not a country, it was much easier.🙂  

Sigh! The little things you think are so easy to teach only to find out were an epic fail later.

 

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