As a teacher of ESL there is a fine balance between being yourself and showing respect. If your students are learning English in your country, you want to share as much as you can about your own customs and lifestyle, while giving each of your students the opportunity and freedom to share theirs. If you are teaching English in a foreign country, you should take active steps to learn as much about the culture and customs of its people. This includes finding out about the taboo topics and actions that could embarrass, confuse or upset a student.
Remember, that what is considered appropriate conduct or conversational material in your country may be considered rude, insulting or even bad luck in another. You may also find that younger generations are more accepting of and accustomed to American or European topics and gestures, while older students still consider some things taboo.
Talking about taboos in general can also be tricky! We want to make sure not to promote generalizations or stereotypes that could upset or insult anyone. Before you travel to a foreign country, take the time to do some research, by talking to other English teachers who are working there. The EnglishClub.com Teacher Forums are a great place to start.
Here are some general topics to avoid as an ESL teacher in a multicultural class:
Here are some general actions and gestures to avoid as an ESL teacher in a multicultural class: