November 2012 E-News from Elizabeth Claire
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Contents of the November E-News:
Handling freedom of speech and Muslim sensitivitiesNovember'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?
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
Dr. Ali: Your Health: Memory Lapses (His
first aid for "senior moments" works!)
- 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
- The First Thanksgiving
- Black Friday
Ask a Speech Coach: Plural forms of nouns.
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.
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 www.elizabethclaire.com:
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
Get your own books published on Kindle!
My granddaughter had a remarkable Anthropology thesis on cockfighting
in the Dominican Republic where she spent her last year at University....I
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Ten of my own books are available on Kindle at Amazon.com. Please let
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How about books and articles you've written and haven't gotten to a publisher
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Amazon's CreateSpace for paper versions and Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing
for Kindle versions. Go to kdp.amazon.com for instructions. Let me know!
Here's how to get a free Kindle reader: Go to Amazon.com
- If you have ever been a customer of Amazon.com, just log in with your
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- Go to the Kindle Store. Search for "kindle app free download for
- Then download it. It will show up on your desk top, and reward you with
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- Once you have your Kindle, search for "Publish on Amazon Kindle
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- ESL Teacher's Activities Kit Part One ($0.99)
- ESL Teacher's Activities Kit Part Two ($0.99)
- ESL Teacher's Activities Kit Part Three ($0.99)
- Kristina, 1904, the Greenhorn Girl ($4)
- Voices of Our New Neighbors Volume One ($0.99)
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- What's So Funny? An International Student's
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Carry on your good work!
© Elizabeth Claire 2012.