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English Teachers - Advice Required


neverdie

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Hello to all you english teachers.

I have been helping a family member with their english, as they are undergoing adult studies to complete the final years of school in the Public System. Sorry I am unaware of exactly what the Thais call this level of education.

I have been reading through the text books provided by the school & there are a couple of things in there that make no sense to me whatsoever. I am an Australian with reasonable english skills, although I am the first to admit, Aussies are particularly good at murdering the english language.

One of the things the thais are teaching in the english text book on page 7, under the title of 'Introductions' is a conversation as follows:

HARRIS: "Charlie, I would like you to meet my brother Richard".

RICHARD: "How do you do?"

CHARLIE: "How do you do?"

the conversation then continues.

When I initially saw this I thought it was a bit odd. I corrected the book by saying that Charlies answer should be, "I am well, how do you do" OR "I am well, how are you"

In class the student was in conversation with the THAI teacher who was asking students random questions. The teacher asked my family member, "How do you do?" My family member replied, "I am good, how are you?" The thai teacher then chastised my family member in front of the class telling her that she had given the incorrect answer and should of just replied, "How do you do".

My question is, am I missing something? Is this a case of the text being wrong and the teacher solely relying on the text OR am I wrong?

I have noticed other abnormalities in the book. Is this something that I could expect to happen time and time again?

Apparently a test is coming up soon & my family member asked me what she should put if she was asked this same question & I told her it would probably be wise to give the answer as recorded in the book. It just doesnt seem right.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

PS: I NEVER WANT TO BE A TEACHER! :o

Edited by neverdie
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Neverdie, the use of "How do you do?" is pretty old fashioned really. I'm no expert in the language, but the response of the Thai teacher is exactly why Thai kids often can't think outside of the box. Neither, responses are wrong as far as I know, but I'm sure one of the more experienced teachers here will clarify.

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Thanks for that Mr Toad & Trix....I was hoping to get a bite from one of the teachers here to PLEASE HELP ME! Your input is appreciated.

THANKYOU

I am not currently teaching in Thailand, but I have taught in Thai classrooms in the past. It looks like the Thai teacher is taking a literal interpretation of the textbook answer. This could either be that they are not familiar with the many other ways that this question can be answered, or it may be that they are trying to keep it simple for their students in the early stages of their learning.

My experience has been that some Thai teachers of English language have good knowledge of English grammar, but don't have very much practice speaking English with native speakers (or not much recent experience). This is not entirely their fault, as native English speakers may have been hard to come by when they were getting their education (and depending on where they are now, possibly still hard to come by).

You have to ask yourself, do you just want your relative to get good marks in school, or do you want them to learn to speak English well also? If the former, then have them stick to the curriculum in the textbook that they are using. If the latter, then continue as you have been doing. Having them practice talking with you will do them a lot of good in their English learning, and it's very generous of you to offer that experience.

Also, if the student does anything to show more knowledge than the teacher in front of the class (especially if it looks to the teacher like they are trying to do that), this will probably not be well-received by the teacher. It could be seen as trying to undermine the teacher's authority on the subject, and might explain the harsh reaction, even if that wasn't the intent of your relative.

Best of luck to you.

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Well I'm a teacher.

I have to agree with Mr Toad, this is a hopelessly antiquated form of address. I can't even remember the last time I heard anyone say it. I don't think it's really very relevant to teach in this day and age. My dad might say it when he met someone I guess but no-one from my generation and I'm definitely heading towards middle age.

For all that I would consider the appropriate answer to be 'How do you do' as it is a formalised greeting (salutation) rather than a genuine query as to someone's health. I don't think it even necessarily requires a response. I've never heard anyone in England respond any other way anyway than the repetition though.

Clearly if your relative wants to get the mark in her test, she should do as her teacher tells her whether it is right or wrong.

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It might be appropriate in formal English in some countries, or long ago. I doubt conversations go like that. More often, even fairly formal intros go more like,

"How do you do?"

"Fine, thank you. And you?"

However, it is out of date. Also, pedants will insist a response would be "I'm fine, thank you." "I'm good" sounds like boasting in some native-speaking countries.

However, other posters have focused on the old-fashioned Thai teacher, who thinks there is only one standard answer, and I agree. There are many textbooks that are simply wrong.

Some of us still begin informal introductions with "Howdy." :o

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" I am well. And you?"

I as well can see why so many students are having trouble with learning English, grammar, and conversational english. The fundamentals need to be laid, prior to building the house. However, this form of introduction is not used as a casual greeting in present day.

Very curious to see what some of the current Teacher responses are...

Side Note: I am not a teacher; Although my present studies are towards a degree in English.

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Agree with others that it seems outdated. But as a first time greeting, especially as it's unlikely to be heard in an informal context, then it could just as well be answered by 'Nice to meet you' or similar.

The 'Fine. And you?' responses sound a bit weird to me.

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I am also a teacher.

I try to teach my older kids that there are differences in salutations depending on the situational context/ages of people concerned and familiarity.

Two businessmen meeting may say "hello, pleased to meet you, how are you?" Clearly this is not a genuine inquiry as to the health of the other businessman. The expected answer is along the lines of "pleased to meet you too, i'm fine, how are you?"

HOWEVER, i have been trying to steer my kids away from the Thai standard answer of "i'm fine thank you and you?" because i know my kids very well and I AM inquiring about their general well being.

A student clutching his stomach, with a pained expression on his face, has only been equipped by the Thai teacher to answer "i'm fine thank you, and you?". I'm trying to equip them to express themselves correctly - to the point where i will accept any answer EXCEPT 'fine thank you, and you?' e.g. I'm very hot/i'm a little hungry/i'm ok/I'm tired etc etc

Some books are just plain wrong.

Some books are written for different regions. Travelling and teaching in India, i discovered that the usual English salutation is along the lines of, "Good day sir, what is your good name?" (with appropriate head wobbling)

That's how they speak ! It's so funny when you first hear it. I also expect an Indian to find some hilarity in the Australian greeting of 'G'day mate, howare ya?" (where 'how' and 'are' are said as one word)

As previous posters have pointed out. Is the child learning English to pass the test or to speak decent communicative English? Sadly, i suspect it's the former. The difficulty from a native English speakers point of view now is finding a decent balance between the two.

Good luck.

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Thankyou people,

I was actually re-thinking the situation last night and had already explained that "How do you do? & the How do you, do?" is old fashion and generally something that isnt used in this day and age.

I have to explain that I live amoungst my g/f's family on a farm & its a large family with more kids than you can point a stick at. To give you some idea theres the grandparents, 11 children to them & their childrens children & all most of them want to learn english from uncle neverdie. Which is great for my thai & good for them. Anyway I digress.

Oevna, THANKYOU also regarding what you have said about the student not knowing more than the teacher, I have already explained that & the student fully understands. It must be difficult for the teacher in this situation because clearly at least 2 of her students are speaking english to a higher standard than she is. As I have been seen dropping family members to the school before some of the teachers are aware that I exist & one asked me to help at the school with the students english & I was quick to point out that unfortunately I could not do this because I didnt possess a work permit & if I did help & the Police caught me I would be imprissoned & deported. This seemed to satisfy the teacher & I kind of feel selfish for not helping BUT the situation with not have a work permit is true. Theres a big difference in helping the people you live amoungst with homework & teaching in the school.

Once again Thankyou to all.

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I am also a teacher.

I try to teach my older kids that there are differences in salutations depending on the situational context/ages of people concerned and familiarity.

Two businessmen meeting may say "hello, pleased to meet you, how are you?" Clearly this is not a genuine inquiry as to the health of the other businessman. The expected answer is along the lines of "pleased to meet you too, i'm fine, how are you?"

HOWEVER, i have been trying to steer my kids away from the Thai standard answer of "i'm fine thank you and you?" because i know my kids very well and I AM inquiring about their general well being.

A student clutching his stomach, with a pained expression on his face, has only been equipped by the Thai teacher to answer "i'm fine thank you, and you?". I'm trying to equip them to express themselves correctly - to the point where i will accept any answer EXCEPT 'fine thank you, and you?' e.g. I'm very hot/i'm a little hungry/i'm ok/I'm tired etc etc

Some books are just plain wrong.

Some books are written for different regions. Travelling and teaching in India, i discovered that the usual English salutation is along the lines of, "Good day sir, what is your good name?" (with appropriate head wobbling)

That's how they speak ! It's so funny when you first hear it. I also expect an Indian to find some hilarity in the Australian greeting of 'G'day mate, howare ya?" (where 'how' and 'are' are said as one word)

As previous posters have pointed out. Is the child learning English to pass the test or to speak decent communicative English? Sadly, i suspect it's the former. The difficulty from a native English speakers point of view now is finding a decent balance between the two.

Good luck.

Thankyou Mark,

I agree with everything you have said. I am passing on enough knowledge so that these guys pass both the test and understand how the question could be answered in the real situation. One of these students has spent considerable time in Australia & is well aware that we don't speak like the teacher is instructing.

You have a good point about trying to teach the other responses. I also had a good laugh at you indian response and having spent time in the middle east living amoungst indian expats I know exactly what you are talking about with both the way they learn their english and the expressions they use. Having said that, despite the head wobbling I have never misunderstood what was being said when being addressed by a person from india.

I would agree with you about Aussie's, being one I know we certainly have a few strange ways of saying things.

Thanks to you.

Edited by neverdie
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Most Thais, especially teachers, think there is only one right, or best answer. Is that true in Thai language? Or is it because they learn that whatever the boss says is right, must be right?

True what you say PB, actually alot of people live thier lives that way. Theres nothing like thinking outside the square, is there?

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I'm an English teacher, and I had dinner last night with my girlfriend's friend, who is a village English teacher in Samchuk near Suphan Buri.

I asked her, 'How are you?", and she responded "I'm fine thank you, and you?"

After that the only conversing we did was in Thai.

I asked my girlfriend about it later, she told me that the woman only teaches out of the book. She also told me that when my girlfriend subbed for her, the kids didn't even understand 'Sit Down, Stand Up'.

So as you suspected, it's not about the saying "How do you do?" at all. It's about what the book said. Anything besides what the book said would be wrong. You're a saint to help your family member out. They will definitely learn more from you, than from the school.

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Sorry to come in on this a bit late.

I once went with a group of RAAF officers to have drinks with the State Governor, a Rear Admiral. From memory, we were told that, when introduced by our CO we were to say "How do you do, Sir?" and he would simply respond with "How do you do?"

I"d say it's just a formal and restricted (and perhaps dated) form of greeting and response. It's phatic communication - just a form of acknowledgment - it doesn't need to make any sense.

I don't really blame Thai teachers of English, particularly when they have little self-confidence in English, looking for some consistent formulaic response given the multitude of possibilities they might encounter from the variety of Englishes spoken by native speakers. If they had some confidence and were less textbook dependent they could give their students some choices, but if the text doesn't have it and they're stuck in a small town teaching what English they know with only a book to help, I have some sympathy for them.

(PS Not all Australians say "Gidday mate, how're ya goin'?" That is a caricature.)

Edited by Xangsamhua
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This reminds me of the time I was teaching a class of M2 (8th grade / 13 years old) students. To start the day a bit differently I asked the class, "How are you today?" Because they keyed into the last word of the question I heard a bunch of responses to the effect that today is Wednesday. So I asked them to listen closely as I repeated the question.

It took a couple more repeats before one of the students replied, "Fine, thank you, and you?"

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sorry chaps, the Thai teacher is entirely correct and most of the replies are missing the point completely.

This is a formal greeting, not an inquiry into your health and the proper response is indeed "How do you do?"

How to Greet someone in Britain

The Handshake

A handshake is the most common form of greeting among the English and British people and is customary when you are introduced to somebody new.

The Kiss

It is only when you meet friends, whom you haven't seen for a long time, that you would kiss the cheek of the opposite sex. In Britain one kiss is generally enough.

Formal greetings

The usual formal greeting is a 'How do you do?' and a firm handshake, but with a lighter touch between men and women.

'How do you do?' is a greeting not a question and the correct response is to repeat 'How do you do?' You say this when shaking hands with someone.

First person "How do you do?"

Second person " How do you do?"

'How are you?' is a question and the most common and polite response is "I am fine thank you and you?"

First person "How are you?"

Second person "I am fine thank you and you?"

Nice to meet you – Nice to meet you too. (Often said whilst shaking hands)

Delighted to meet you– Delighted to meet you too.

Pleased to meet you – Pleased to meet you too. .

Glad to meet you - Glad to meet you too

Good Morning / Good Afternoon / Good Evening

Informal greetings

Hi - Hi or hello

Morning / Afternoon / Evening ( We drop the word 'Good' in informal situations).

How's you? - Fine thanks. You?

Thank you / thanks / cheers

We sometime say 'cheers' instead of thank you. You may hear 'cheers' said instead of 'good bye', what we are really saying is 'thanks and bye'

For more information about manners and etiquette:

odysseus

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Guest Bellini

I'm with Odysseus on this. Aside from that, if the question "how do you do?" were to be taken literally the only answer I could think of would be "how do I do what?". The answer cannot be "I'm fine", because the question was not "how are you?"

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I'm with Odysseus on this. Aside from that, if the question "how do you do?" were to be taken literally the only answer I could think of would be "how do I do what?". The answer cannot be "I'm fine", because the question was not "how are you?"

Love it! :o "How do you do what?"

Thankyou to everyone for your comments, its much appreciated.

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Good point. Maybe originally the phrase was "How well are you doing" which got shortened to "Howdy." However, when my 19th century father-in law, a native of west Texas, was really impressed, he would say, "Boy, howdy!" But I could never trust a man who called teenage girls Sally Pumphandle.

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Good point. Maybe originally the phrase was "How well are you doing" which got shortened to "Howdy." However, when my 19th century father-in law, a native of west Texas, was really impressed, he would say, "Boy, howdy!" But I could never trust a man who called teenage girls Sally Pumphandle.

<deleted>??? Sally Pumphandle :o

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Bringing it back to learning, the girl with the tiny, red Metropolitan was Lois L. Her father retired from the U S Army as a lieutant colonel. He started university on the old GI Bill, and died on his university graduation. I like to think his grave marker reads, "...Lt. Colonel, BA." He graduated from the alma mater of my wife and eldest daughter.

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Well I'm a teacher.

I have to agree with Mr Toad, this is a hopelessly antiquated form of address. I can't even remember the last time I heard anyone say it. I don't think it's really very relevant to teach in this day and age. My dad might say it when he met someone I guess but no-one from my generation and I'm definitely heading towards middle age.

For all that I would consider the appropriate answer to be 'How do you do' as it is a formalised greeting (salutation) rather than a genuine query as to someone's health. I don't think it even necessarily requires a response. I've never heard anyone in England respond any other way anyway than the repetition though.

Clearly if your relative wants to get the mark in her test, she should do as her teacher tells her whether it is right or wrong.


I too am a teacher and I would agree with the above two gentlepeople and Odyessus later on the same page. This is straight out of an Ealing Studios black and white film. You've seen the one where two strangers are waiting for trains and strike up a very stilted conversation in the platform cafe. All exceedinly polite - think sir john mills and veronica lake.

My advice to you, neverdie, is to follow the teacher's teaching for exams but look into the CEF - council of Europe Framework. This is a protracted study on what a student needs to know at a variety of levels from young learners to university graduates. The studies have produced a standard of English recognised by governments and university entrance administrators. The levels can be tested by exams written by Cambridge University and some like the KET are valid for life.

Obviously, it depends on how far you want to take this with your young charges but you do have the option to follow the cambridge road (exams can be taken in Bangkok) and this is also a route that would get them into universtiy as an alternative to government exams (you would really have to know what you are doing at this point).

good luck

Edited by bungy007
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