A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

Xenophobia and Jingo-ism

Can drive you nuts!

The notion of Critical Thinking is a Western value - and  Critical Thinking is a Western skill.

Over and Over Again

You will hear many statements, out in the world, that are obviously incorrect and silly.  Yet many of them, in some countries, will be repeated constantly and assumed to be the truth.  It is as if everyone read the same thing, believed it, and was told to repeat it frequently.  This idea is called Jingoism.


Can be political/economic statements (Americans are out to dominate the world) , cultural assumptions (all Americans are noisy and rude), and even just commentary (I'm sorry you don't have a son).  Sorry, I am picking on Americans here - as I am an American - and I don't want to offend anyone else!  You will often be astounded at some of the things you will hear.  Only with close friends will it be worth challenging such statements as they are so embedded in the culture.  And even then, I am not sure it is worth it.

Other common Jingoisms?

Only foreigners have AIDS.  Koreans can't get AIDS because they eat kimchee.  And, of course, other generically stereotypic statements - such as, "All [fill in the blank with a nationality or ethnic or religious group] [do something stupid, odd, or bad]."


Some cultures fear foreigners.  The first time I lived in Korea, I thought that I learned how Black Americans must have felt in the American South in the 1950s.  The way people would stare, often in great distaste, at me.  I was on a bus once when a small very cute young girl ran onto the bus, looked up and saw me, then screamed and started crying as she ran back off the bus.  Now, I wouldn't call myself handsome, but I'm not THAT ugly either!  What was the message she must have been given about foreigners?

Such xenophobia is fading, but is not uncommon away from urban areas and in more closed societies.


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