Students (probably) cursing you out in a different language?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, May 14, 2017.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    My lovely jewel of a student who I've had wonderful interactions with all year (sarcasm) recently responded to being asked to follow instructions by speaking in Mandarin. (We teach Mandarin at our school and some kids take it.)

    Knowing this student he probably wasn't saying anything nice, but unfortunately, Mandarin is not on my list of languages that I can understand even a little bit. (I can understand when someone is cursing at me in Spanish or German though!)

    He could be just saying random words in Mandarin to get a reaction. Or he could be cursing. Since I was unable to tell I just decided to ignore it (though his buddies chortled around him after he said it).

    If he does it again at an inappropriate time, I'll give him a consequence for disrupting the class, but if he really is cursing then I'd be letting him get away with something inappropriate too. I could record it and all and bring it to the Mandarin teacher, but eh. It's very hard to accurately hear and spell out Mandarin words for Google translate by the way, because they have all of the tone nuances and such.

    I've also been playing around with a mischievous idea in case he does it again.

    I don't speak Vietnamese, but I grew up around it so I can mimic the sounds pretty well, and I know nobody in my class speaks that language, so I was thinking about speaking authentic sounding nonsense words/sounds in Vietnamese back at him just for kicks to see the look on his face. I know that's not very professional and all, but it might be worth a few laughs. I also learned a few Mandarin curses of my own (in the process of trying to figure out what he was saying through Google), but I won't do that. lol.

    What would you do in this situation? Ignore? Report it to admin/parent/Mandarin teacher? Mess with his head?
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
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  3. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Count the days until the school year is over and let it go.
     
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  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I fully plan to let the last instance go if it doesn't repeat itself. My concern is if this behavior becomes repeated. We get out later than most schools (3rd week in June) so we have a little more than a month left. xP Don't really want to put up with that for a month.
     
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    My response is "English only - school policy." It gives you a valid reason to write him up.
     
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  6. Tulipteacher

    Tulipteacher Companion

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    Give him a death stare and say, "I know Ms MandarinTeacher is not teaching you THAT in 2nd period."
     
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  7. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I would tell him that whatever he is saying, he is clearly distracting his peers and the class and he needs to stop.
     
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  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I doubt we have that policy. (We don't even have a cell phone policy.)
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Let it go.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    [​IMG]
    This should be my motto.
     
  11. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Hmm...I wouldn't say this. What about students that speak other languages? And clearly they are learning other languages in another classes. Honestly, I would just say that he is distracting his peers or off task without worrying about the language.
     
  12. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Surprisingly, if a student who can speak English chooses to speak a language that the staff is not expected to understand, it can, and usually is, a matter of safety. You think they are cursing you out, while there is just as much reason to suspect that whatever they are talking about could concern school/pupil safety, so you have the right to limit in class communication to English. I had students speaking Spanish to negotiate drug deals, so no more Spanish. They could have just as easily been plotting to blow up the school. I bet if you ask the right administrators, and voice concern that the utterances seem as if they could be veiled threats, you will find someone who will back you up. Speaking another language when English is the primary language is rude at best, oppositional in all likelihood.
     
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  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    My statement is clearly aimed at all students, including ESL students. They can talk among themselves when on task, to understand, but when they speak English well and switch languages on purpose, to keep the teacher out of the loop, that is a very different matter. Since the teacher this student is speaking to does NOT speak Mandarin, there is nothing to be gained by his actions. If it would make you feel better, add that the Mandarin teacher will be very anxious to give more work, since this student is trying the language outside of the language class. I don't believe that a native English speaker gets to be rude and insolent just because the school offers language courses. I've never met a science teacher who teaches in every language that is offered by the school. For all you know, this "darling" just threatened to kill you. Nothing to laugh about, in my book.
     
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  14. Obadiah

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    I'm writing from an elementary teacher's perspective, so I'm sure things are a bit different in a secondary situation, but I would caution about being meticulous in reactions to such behavior, especially when the student has an audience. The student will react to avoid losing face and/or to promote him/herself.

    This reminded me of when I worked at a multi-cultural camp. We had a couple of campers from Russia. The older camper taught me some Russian words, such as how to say hello. I thought I'd surprise his younger brother one day by greeting him in Russian. When the younger brother fell over laughing, I knew I'd been tricked. I laughed and said, "Oops!" and asked what his older brother had really taught me to say, but he never did tell me. Of course, that was a different situation; I just took it with a sense of humor.
     
  15. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  16. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    There you go. Simple and brilliant.
     
  17. 2ndTimeAround

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    eh - why does it really matter? It's kind of like a person throwing a punch but missing by a mile. Does the intent really impact you? No, it doesn't. A kid cussing at a teacher doesn't do a thing for him if the teacher doesn't know about it. That's especially so if you make it known that really don't care. As far as you're concerned, he's speaking gibberish.
     
  18. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Ignore.

    When I had students say things in Spanish ad I had an idea that it was probably inappropriate, I told them they needed to stop, because I don't understand it and I'm going to assume that it's the worst things possible and that's how I'm going to write it up. I was bluffing and I sounded mean (not emotional, just basically very strict) and it probably helped that they were on probation. They stopped.

    In your case I would just ignore or give a very quick command, "English only". Anything else you do you're stooping to their level.
     
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  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    The only problem is I foresee rebellion if I say "English only". My other language speaking students would likely find this unfair. The student in question if I responded with a simple "cut it out or you're facing a lunch detention" would probably get really defensive saying things like "I was only saying _____, blah, blah." It's not a struggle I really want to get into.

    I feel like responding in a different/fake language might keep the ordeal lighthearted, and likely cause him to stop because he doesn't know what I might be saying about him. He might realize how annoying it is and stop because of that too. It would be an eternal mystery, and everyone would probably ask me what I said, and I'd just give a knowing look. </imagination>
     
  20. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    But all students should be speaking English in the classroom so it's not really that unfair.
    I wouldn't waste any time on this kid, otherwise you're just feeding the problem. He wants a reaction, and you're ready to give it to him. Ignore.
     
  21. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I have to agree with Linguist. Part of the EL process is learning how to learn in their second language. They can speak their L1 in the halls or at lunch.
     
  22. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I agree with Peregrin that saying English only is insensitive to students whose first language is not English. I still think you can say he is being off task and distracting his peers.
     
  23. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Connoisseur

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    One time, a student called another one a "pendejo." Since I knew what that meant, I called him out on it, spoke with him in the hallway, and wrote him up for cursing. Since you don't know what is being said, as others have said, you can write him up for disrupting class. That's about it.
     
  24. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    The general idea is that English learners are supposed to use English only in the classroom. It is not insensitive or unfair. In my opinion, during lunch and recess they should be able to use their first language, but some schools have the policy to not allow that, which also makes sense, it would facilitate their learning.
     
  25. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I think obvious exceptions could be made if a child is speaking to you in a language you both understand (i.e. you're bilingual, and using that to help them figure out an English way of saying something), or if they're doing something similar with a classmate (asking a quick question in Spanish to help understand in English how to phrase something or whatnot). I don't think it's an all-or-nothing situation...just like everything.
     
  26. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Yep. As long as you are trying hard to decipher the words you will lose the real problem which is not following your directions. Backtalk can come in many forms, a foreign language being one. The goal is always the same: change the agenda. If the student can get you to talk about his words he leads you away from your agenda, get to work-follow my directions, to discussing the denotation and connotation of foreign words. Like angling, he casts, you take the bait, and he reels you in. Moreover, the class is watching. If they see how easy it is to side-track the teacher with backtalk those inclined to goof off will try it too since it is working.

    The way to handle backtalk is not backtalk as you stated. If you open your mouth in response to a lippy student you provide the topic sentence for his/her next backtalk. Then it escalates with the teacher trying to get the upper hand (word) until finally, with little options and pushed into a corner, the teacher has the "final word" with a write-up. This is why insolence in the form of backtalk is the number one office referral.

    Not responding verbally does not mean ignoring and walking away. That teaches the class goofing off is free. Many teachers believe if you don't acknowledge the behavior it will extinguish and go away. This could happen if you have control over the peer group (audience). Snickers, oohs, thumbs up and other indoor gymnastics from friends will serve as rewards that far outweigh the "consequence" of being ignored.
     
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  27. Go Blue!

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    I teach in a school with a huge ESOL population and many students speak Spanish when talking amongst themselves. Saying "English only" is not only rude (in my opinion) but would be frowned upon.

    Even if I explained why I had said "English-only, school policy," the head our ESOL department wouldn't want to hear it. I teach in a Black majority school where the climate is not always friendly to ESOL kids (my students are always complaining about the "Mexican kids" even though in Baltimore, many of our Latino kids are not Mexican). Our Black students often tell the Latino kids to only speak English and it causes a lot of racial tension between the groups. If they saw a teacher telling the Latino kids "English-only," we would be inviting a sh*t storm.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
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  28. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    This is not a disagreement with Linguist, (and I'm a little off the subject, too. I agree that no student should be speaking disrespectfully toward anyone or disrupting another person in any language), but I have a thought about ESL students being required to speak English in school, especially during lunch or recess, based somewhat on Pinker's writings, especially assuming the school they are in also contains English as a first language students. Would a preference for English be a more natural experience for the students in their language learning so that they are developing bilingually; and would an encouragement for English students to speak somewhat in the other language, especially with younger elementary students, be profitable. I'm even thinking of bilingual word walls, not for every vocabulary word, of course, but perhaps a student generated word wall of the foreign words. Historically, isn't this how languages developed as immigrants' children conversed with native children and is one reason a language has words derived from other languages.
     
  29. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    What I'm hearing though is: don't ignore, and don't respond. What should I do that's in between those two?
     
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  30. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    While they are in a learning environment, they need to use the language of the classroom, which is both in English and profanity-free. What they say and do on their own time is another matter. If they claim you're being racist, simply remind them that part of their education is to master thinking academically in English, and the classroom is the place for practicing this mastery.
     
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  31. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I definitely see the benefit of non-native English speakers and English speakers conversing in a foreign language, this is an opportunity for the English speaker to practice a foreign language skill, the same when we require non-native speakers to speak English.
    What is not-preferable is when non-native speakers speak in their own language - it is usually excessive, and lazy.
     
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  32. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I think that some are missing the point. I teach ESL as well as SPED, and they don't have to speak perfect English to get ideas across, so stop giving the troublesome students a bye on their behavior based on ESL students who may or may not be in the room. English only is meant as a way of stopping someone going on and on in a foreign language that perhaps only a single teacher would understand. That's a power play, not ESL. That has nothing to do with ESL, everything to do with being fresh and disrupting class. "English only" can be said with head down or up, as the lesson continues, ruining the student's attempts to hijack the class or class time. If there is no response and the distraction continues, I would continue teaching while clearly looking at the offensive student/students as I write down their names. I believe this fits the criteria of "don't ignore" while also meeting the advice to "don't respond (in a way that gives away your power)". I suspect that I work in an environment where I have good reason to err on the side of caution. I never have to say that I am writing the offending students up, because as soon as I have recorded names, I set that sheet in my drawer where I will use it to write up the students at a slightly later time. I would never give students the power to make me stop what I am teaching just to make a point. I make my point when admin deals with the write-up. Good admin will back you up, and you never need to get into a stare down with a student out to ruin the learning for everyone else.

    Don't ignore, state the rule, continue your presentation, and it isn't "don't respond" but only respond in an effective manner that doesn't give away your power as teacher. Let me repeat - this is NOT an ESL thing, so disconnect them in your mind if you seem conflicted. There is such a huge difference between ESL students conversing quietly, or using ESL resources to comprehend the content. Trust me, the vast majority of ESL students will attempt to speak in English, in an attempt to "fit in" and it will not be about the "English only" rule. The more ESL students you teach, the more you will recognize that OP's initial post is not about an ESL student in the least.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
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  33. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    That is the great paradox of classroom management! How often I have questioned my own reactions to situations, and that's in elementary school! What I have discovered is that over time, teachers gain an intuition type of insight on how to respond--it won't even be like you had to think about it, you'll just do the right thing at the right time. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this with an example of workers at a factory who after practice can determine the sex of baby chickens (difficult to differentiate until more mature) yet they have no idea how they determined it. I experience the same thing when I play an improvisation on the piano. I've practiced various riffs over and over, but how I decide which to use, how I instantaneously modify the riff, and how I suddenly add a riff I've never practiced I have no idea--it just happens.
     
  34. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    When research was being done in real classrooms it showed teachers with the most time-on-task and cooperation do respond. They do it in a way that is not typical when we think "disciplinarian". What they "do" is move their face, shoulders, arms, hands, feet and toes in such a way that their body does all the "talking". Think of it as a set of moves planned and choreographed by the teacher which allow the teacher to manage a room full of squirmy bodies just by moving correctly. The thing about teachers who are good at body language is it looks most unremarkable. Unless you know what to look for the feeling you get observing one of these teachers is how lucky they are to get all the good kids.
     
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  35. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    While I appreciate both of your insights into this matter, neither of your posts are very helpful.
     
  36. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    This was part of the procedure used by Mr. Fred Rogers. No one believed he would hold the attention of a bunch of preschoolers unless he would dress up as a clown (as was actually requested of him). Instead, he dressed as he would describe "honestly". In any other situation, he, personally, would wear a business suit, so that was his wardrobe for addressing his television audience. Back to the subject at hand, his body posture, facial expressions, and eye contact were to an imaginary child, the TV camera, in other words, he taught an imaginary child in his imaginary classroom. I began my post by mentioning this was part of his procedure.

    What was the second part? As also stated above, his second technique was, in his words, honesty; in other words, authenticity. Not just his wardrobe, but his mannerisms, his humor, demeanor, his manner of speaking (yes, he really talked like that), well, as the actor who portrayed Mr. McFeely described him, he was always the real Mr. Rogers.

    A final part of his procedure was revitalization and relaxation. He and others attribute this to his success in televised teaching. His workday mornings began with singing and swimming; every morning. For him, personally, prayer was an important part of his day at the office. As needed, he would take a day off from everything and walk in the woods.

    I know his audience is a much lower age group than whom I taught and certainly much, much lower than high school, but when I was in college, he was one of my "textbooks". I watched him twice everyday, and for one of my class assignments, I did a video of myself doing a similar program. (From then on, I supposed you can guess what my nickname became)! Anyway, I cannot begin to detail how much Mr. Rogers has influenced my teaching career! Perigrin, I think I know what you're going through, because I've had my rough experiences with behavior, too, especially my fourth year when I taught inner city, but overall, my success in behavior management, classroom lessons, and all aspects of teaching can be attributed to Mr. Rogers.
     

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