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Teaching Taboos

ACI has compiled some of the biggest no-no’s for our educators:

  1. Saying the word “die” to your students

    • First, it is considered extremely rude to say that to an Asian person. To them, it is considered bad luck, even if you say it in a funny or exaggerated manner. For instance, you say to your student, “are you going to die if you don’t drink water now?” We may know that this means “Are you really THAT thirsty?” But the Asian people may take offense to it!
  2. Some unacceptable punishments


  3. Situation One: Leaving a student outside the classroom too long
    • As a way to discipline, please do not leave them outside for no more than 5 minutes. If any longer, they will feel abandoned and lose all trust in you
    • Solution: It is okay to have time out for the naughty ones, but please go back to check up on them every couple of minutes or so, and always ask them if they are ready to come back to join the class
    Situation Two: Lightly tapping them on their head or hand
    • Don’t do it, as it may be considered “hitting” to some
    • Solution: Use the points/rewards system to encourage them to do well and to punish
  • Writing in red pen or marker

    • Red marking is for grading only; if you use it to write in red, it is also considered rude in Asian culture (again, implying death). Best bet is to stick to only writing in blue or black ink.
  • Writing in ungrammatical upper or lower cases. Often teachers will mix the letters in following matter:

    • All caps
    • All lower cases
    • “Free-style” / mixing upper and lower

    For adults, it is easy to distinguish the characters. But, please remember that your students are typically young and non-native speakers. Therefore, they must be strictly reinforced to know what is the “proper” way from the “improper” way. As an education specialist, you must always set a precedent for your pupils!

  • Writing in sloppy handwriting and/or cursive

    • Same as above. Your students may not be able to read your handwriting. Worse yet, you may end up having to read or grade these bad works of art. Asian people believe in neatness and orderliness. This is also very evident in the way they write. Your students are expected to have perfect print handwriting.
  • Not saying hello to the parents or coworkers

    • Many foreign consultants have the mentality of “I am here just for a short time to work and make some money; I just need to do my job.” However, that is not a sign of friendliness and good faith, nor does it demonstrate amiability and teamwork. Just a simple acknowledgment (nodding, smiling) will go a long way! Asian people are like this: If you are nice to them, they will be 10 times nicer back.
  • Appearing like a know-it-all

    • Employers often complain of their foreign employees brag about their ability, yet quite often their performance seem to beg differ. Some things to be aware of:
    • You may not agree with your manager or his/her management style, but you still need to show respect for your boss who pays your salary, the company system, and the position itself.

    The bosses naturally want someone who is eager to learn, and willing to obey. So please remember to always ask them “Is this how you want me to do it?&rdquo Explain to them that you want to be clear about it so that you will not have to ask them over and over, and so that you know exactly what is expected of you (Asian people can be very ambiguous and indirect).

  • Disrespecting your surroundings

    • Leaving work area messy
    • Not putting things back where they are supposed to be
    • Not asking for permission to use something first
    • Leaving lights or air conditioner on
    • Smoking near the facility where you work

    Don’t forget to keep these things in mind, and you will get along fantastically with your boss and coworkers!