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November 2012 E-News from Elizabeth Claire

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Contents of the November E-News:

Handling freedom of speech and Muslim sensitivities in your ESL classroom

Contents of November's Easy English NEWS

Get Your Own Books Published on Kindle!

Handling freedom of speech and Muslim sensitivities

November's front page article dealt with violence against the United States that broke out in many Muslim countries. An American ambassador and several staff members in Libya were killed.There were also protests against the U.S. in dozens of countries where there is a large Muslim population. The assassination in Benghazi seems likely a planned terrorist act. The trigger of the protests elsewhere was a video produced in the United States, with U.S. actors depicting the beginnings of Islam in a very silly and negative light. ("The Innocence of Muslims")

Feelings may be very riled (View the 12-minute trailer on YouTube, to see how silly and poorly made the video was, if it hasn't been taken down.)

What do you do in your ESL classroom?

One possibility is to ignore the news skip the front page article or let students read it on their own if they choose. All the facts are not known, and many things are distorted by the media. With younger students, I'd follow this practice.

Another tack you might take is to write out the First Amendment to the Constitution on the board. Have students read it and understand its meaning. (You can download my free "translation" of the U.S. Constitution into Simple English.) Stress to the students that our freedom of press and speech allow even political and religious enemies to say, write, or produce anything they want to. People may criticize our government or any religion as much as they want to, unless they are inciting to a violent overthrow of our government. People who are not public figures may sue others for printing (libel) or saying (slander) things that are not true that harm their reputation...Politicians, famous people, movie stars and other public figures do not have the right to sue.

The situation can be volatile in classes with or even without Muslim students. Handle with care, and help students learn facts without ingesting prejudicial views. Emphasize that judging a group by the actions of some extremist members of that group is sloppy thinking. This refers both to some Muslims' anger at the U.S. for the movie, and for some Americans' anger at Muslims for the protests and the killings. Point out that what we see in the media may be distorted by the politics of journalists and owners of newspapers.

With emotions possibly high, protect yourself from any repercussions. Allow any Muslim students to express their own feelings on the issue, and protect that under the freedom of speech. Use utmost discretion when voicing your own opinion. Stick to facts, and don't rely on the news media to have all the facts yet.

Americans fiercely guard our freedom of speech. This conflicts with Muslims fiercely guarding the sanctity of the Prophet Mohammed. Only when people can see and understand each other's point of view can a mature and peaceful resolution come out of it. This is a hard one.

There is a great gulf between Western and Muslim ideas about what is allowable to print or present. Americans have become used to all sorts of jokes, movies, satires, put downs, cartoons, etc. of Christian, Jewish, and other religious practices as well as movies. We deplore it mostly, but we've become inured to it.

Some Americans are offended by some movies and show their dislike by marching with signs, boycotting, and otherrelatively innocuous responses. We have learned to generally tolerate others' freedom of speech. On the other hand, Muslims' personal identity is tied in with their love and appreciation of Mohammed. It is extremely upsetting for them to know he is being maligned. For Muslims, freedom of speech is license to do harm. They are honor-bound by their religion to defend their Prophet. We can defend the concept of freedom of speech at the same time being compassionate for other people's feelings.

Contents of Easy English NEWS for November 2012

Who Killed the U.S. Ambassador?

Election Day Where and when do Americans vote? How do the voting machines work? Who are absentee ballots for? When will we know who won?

Events in November covered in Easy English NEWS:
    • Native American Heritage Month
    • All Saints' Day/All Souls' Day
    • Dia de los Muertos
    • Daylight Saving Time Ends
    • Election Day
    • The Great American Smokeout
    • Veterans Day
    • Thanksgiving
    • The First Thanksgiving
    • Black Friday
Dr. Ali: Your Health: Memory Lapses (His first aid for "senior moments" works!)

Ask a Speech Coach: Plural forms of nouns. Practice with distinguishing the s, z and /iz/ pronunciations.

Flow Chart: Electing a president: A full-page chart to help readers see an overview of the election process from primaries all the way through to the inauguration.

Heroes and History: U.S. Presidents This page lists the 44 presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama, with years in office, political party, and notes.

Plus our regular features: This Is Your Page (readers' stories),  Funny Stuff, Idioms, the Crossword Puzzle, Let's Talk About It, and Word Help.

At the website: See the many FREE support exercises at

The Teacher's Guide if you didn't get it with your mailing

Cloze exercises for the current and previous issues

an Odd-Man-Out exercise

and seven Short Answer quizzes.

Also the FREE 24-page generic "How To" with 9 reproducible graphic organizers.

Get your own books published on Kindle!

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Ten of my own books are available on Kindle at Please let your students know about them. They'll be at affordable introductory prices ($0.99) for another few months.

How about books and articles you've written and haven't gotten to a publisher yet? You don't need an agent or publisher, but can do it yourself with Amazon's CreateSpace for paper versions and Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing for Kindle versions. Go to for instructions. Let me know!

Here's how to get a free Kindle reader: Go to

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  3. Then download it. It will show up on your desk top, and reward you with free books, classics that are in the public domain.
  4. Once you have your Kindle, search for "Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing"
  5. Then read this free "How To" book on your free Kindle App on your computer to learn step by step how to publish your own works. Amazon has eliminated the agent and publisher. It's just you and your audience.
  6. It's exciting. My books, at their introductory prices, experience no price resistance. It's fun to click on to every day to watch the sales in the U.S., India, Europe, the UK. Of course, I earn more money per book by selling the paper version. But the audience for the books is now anyone out there in the big world...farther than I can reach with my advertising. If you haven't tried any, give it a chance. And let me know how it goes.
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Carry on your good work!

Elizabeth Claire

© Elizabeth Claire 2012.
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