A fellow EFL teacher sent me the following joke by e-mail:
"A disappointed salesman of Coca Cola returns from his Middle East assignment. A friend asked, "Why weren't you successful with the Arabs?" The salesman explained,"When I got posted in the Middle East, I was very confident that I would make a good sales pitch as Cola is virtually unknown there. But, I had a problem; I didn't know to speak Arabic. So, I planned to convey the message through three posters...
First poster: A man lying in the hot desert sand... totally exhausted and fainting.
Second poster: The man is drinking our Cola.
Third poster: Our man is now totally refreshed.
And then, these posters were pasted all over the place."Then that should have worked!" said the friend. "The hell it should had!? said the salesman. I didn't realize that Arabs read from right to left!"(or bottom to top in this post!)
This reminded me of our everyday contact with our students...we constantly nag, "our students don't study, they don't do their homework, they pay no attention in class...". Have we ever thought about their needs, their background knowledge of English, their interests, their cultural background?...