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Fired for teaching adult ESL students uses of the f word
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luke76



Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:35 pm    Post subject: Fired for teaching adult ESL students uses of the f word Reply with quote

I was fired this morning (my DOS texted me, asking me to call him back, Sunday morning). The reason he gave was that I had used the f word in class, and the heads of the company found out about it, and that they told him to fire me on the spot, no notice or severence pay. I am working in Sydney, and I am on a sponsorship visa which requires me to work for this company to stay in the country. I am under contract, and have worked for this company for 4 years.

I'm just trying to garner the opinion of other ESL teachers, on whether or not they have taught curse words (under any circumstances), and whether they think it's a sackable offence. Does anyone know of a good lawyer in the Sydney area?

Speedy advice is much appreciated.
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ICAL_Pete



Joined: 25 Sep 2006
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, but my personal view is to stay well away from taboo words in the classroom. It's simply a no-no for me (along with any talk of religion, politics and sex as well as).

Someone, somwhere will always take offence and make trouble.
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luke76



Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, .... I see. We agree that this matter is largely about opinion then? If a student asked you what f*ck up meant, in class, would you tell them? If a student wanted to know what "Asian c**ts" meant (overheard on the street) would you address it or ignore it?
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ICAL_Pete



Joined: 25 Sep 2006
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a student once who asked me what f*** meant. I am fairly certain he was trying it on (this was a teenage class, not adults) and so I simply told him I couldn't think of a way to explain it well and would he like me to ask the school owner to come in and help me?

Of course he backtracked quickly!

With some groups there is a legitimate reason for going through taboo words or discussing sex or religion or politics but when I've been in those cases I always checked with the DoS first since there's going to be fallout if just one person takes offence.
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luke76



Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! censored already! Sure I didn't type in "fudge" back then... anyway...
I did the get the DOS to address the students about something I felt I couldn't adequately explain, just minutes before the alleged incident. His answer wasn't particularly good, after the class had spent a lot of time trying to solve the nuance (admit + gerund or admit to + gerund?), so I felt that it was a waste of time. It didn't occur to me to ask the boss first, 10 minutes later anyway.

I'm also interested in whether or not teachers have a duty of care towards students, and whether this could be interpreted as making students aware of the cultural/safety implications of some taboo words. What part does motive play in this? I have dealt with the matter before, when a student was over-using the f word in all situations, and I wanted to make him aware that some people find this offensive, and that intonation, register, and so forth play a big part in this.

Often taboo words have relatively benign meanings. f**k me, is used to mean "gee" by a lot of English speakers, all sorts of people from all walks of life must have used the word at some point or other, even when stubbing one's toe.

How about prick, cock, bugger, bloody, etc? Same rules apply? Remember the "where the bloody hell are you?" tourism campaign, designed by the Aussies for the Brits? Didn't go down too well.
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St. George



Joined: 06 Oct 2004
Posts: 108
Location: Ex Libya

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:57 pm    Post subject: Tribunal Reply with quote

Luke

It seems to me that they must have wanted rid of you, otherwise they would have discussed the matter with you.

Australia is not a third world country and so I imagine the employer would have a warning system in place, which they would normally use when employees step out of line.

There are circumstances where one would be sacked on the spot but I doubt if cursing ( for educational purposes ) is one of them.

Take them to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal.

St. G
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Lexicon



Joined: 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 153
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think there is anything wrong with discussing the word or similar words within an academic context if that is something the students want to learn. However I can understand where the school is coming from too.

I've had several occasions where I have had to sit teachers down from the UK and tell them that using f*ck and c*nt in speech, especially in the workplace is something that is not allowed in many US and international companies.

They didn't mean anything by it. They had just grown up using those words rather freely and had never worked anywhere where it wasn't the norm.

Most understood and realized that a bit of cultural awareness can prevent problems. A couple of others refused to quit with the f*cks, c*nts, and f*cking c*nts, and had to be let go.
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genkiness



Joined: 22 Oct 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a fascinating subject. Personally I think that it is vital that students understand levels of politeness where idioms and slang are concerned. Yet it is a sensitive subject at the same time. How do we teach our students appropriate use when we are not allowed to?

I have been searching for a good published reference that I can refer my students to whenever the subject is broached. Thus, when the subject is brought up, I can explain that I am not allowed to discuss profanity in "this" institution, however, they can (and should) research it on their own.
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athenaok



Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:04 pm    Post subject: The "F" word in the classroom. Reply with quote

I personally love this word.

I believe idioms and expletives are and important part of ESL/EFL and culture education, but careful management and protocol needs to be in place. These words have a lot of power, as you have discovered, and I am sorry to hear of your firing.

I would think a warning about company policy would have been an appropriate first step, and I am surprised they jumped to such an extreme measure -- is it possible that they were looking for a reason to let you go? Perhaps a budget cut or some other internal reason?

George Carlin once said, "No part of my language is forbidden." I think as English language professionals this is a code to embrace.

Hope this firing results in new and better opportunities, all the best,
Very Happy
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Guggzie



Joined: 12 Oct 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:11 pm    Post subject: Australian Industial Laws Reply with quote

Australian Industrial laws would apply in your case unless there is a specific breach of an issue defined in your contract. Having been employed there for 4 years implies you have performed your tasks successfully and hence the Company is obliged to follow a warning procedure before resorting to dismisssal. Even if it came to dismissal you would still have entitlements to leave pay provided property theft wasn't involved. In that case it would be a criminal action anyway. If you ignored the warning/s and were then dismissed you would not have any entitlment to severence pay because that usually only applies if a person is laid off.
Guggzie
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saor



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:13 pm    Post subject: ESP cursing? Reply with quote

Have you ever heard of a dictionary?
Students always know what fu*k means. Just tell them that such words are inappropriate and they can look them up themselves if they feel the need.[/url]
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genkiness



Joined: 22 Oct 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:20 pm    Post subject: Re: ESP cursing? Reply with quote

saor wrote:
Have you ever heard of a dictionary?
Students always know what fu*k means. Just tell them that such words are inappropriate and they can look them up themselves if they feel the need.[/url]


A dictionary does not explore all the possible uses of the work "f^ck"
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fdinolfo



Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Posts: 3
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:22 pm    Post subject: Fired for teaching the F word Reply with quote

You didn't mention the age group that you teach. I have always taught adults, and taboo words are bound to come up, especially if you teach immigrants in an English-speaking country. They are going to hear these words at some point, and they may very well ask you about them.

If they are minors, you should definitely check with the director or the school about the policy on taboo words. If they are adults, it's also a good idea to ask about the policy.

Some ESL texbooks for students that are college-age and older actually have a section on taboo words, and explanations of the degree to which any given word is taboo. There is a book called Dangerous Englsh 2000: An Indispensable Guide for Language Learners and Others (9781887744089): Elizabeth Claire: Books, which devotes itself exclusively to the topic. If you recommend this book to your students, they can use it on their own, and you may not have to discuss the topic at all.
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muchospanish



Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You showed very poor judgment. It's offensive to many people. Have you thought about how your boss found out? Maybe a student who felt offended told him.

Apologize to your boss. Tell them you showed poor judgment and to give you another chance.
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genkiness



Joined: 22 Oct 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To fdinolfo-
Thank you for the reference!
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