Sunday, November 16, 2008

Polite politics

Recently I encouraged some adult ESL students to talk about politics, but it was only for an exercise in "polite" arguing.

First, we reviewed some phrases that might be useful in discussion.

Me: "If you disagree with someone, how can you answer politely?"

Students: "I disagree."

Me: "But politely."

Students: "I'm sorry, I disagree."

Me: "What else can you say?"

Students: "In my opinion...."

Me: "Okay, but that's about me, me, me."

Students: "I think....?"

Me: "Still about me. How can you show the other person you were listening?"

Students: "What?"

Me: "How...can...you...show...someone...you...are...listening?"

The students were stumped. I gave them the phrases "I understand what you're saying, but...," "Good point, but I'm not sure that I agree with you, " etc. As well as clarification questions.

Meanwhile, we tackled the question about how long a president's term should be. One student said 4, the other said 6.

Russia's presidential limit is being extended to two 6-yr terms. Imagine having the same president for 12 years!

The student in favor of a longer term said that 4 years is a very short amount of time to learn how to run a country. She also argued that in "most" countries the presidents serve for two terms anyway, so why not make it long to begin with?

The student in favor of a shorter term said that 6 years is a long time to be stuck with someone if you don't like him from the very beginning.

They both admitted to not knowing much about politics but agreed that it's important to keep up with current events.

That was about as far as we got. We're still at the pre to mid intermediate level. ;)

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