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How many continents in the world?

  • 1.  How many continents in the world?

    Posted 13-07-2022 01:45 PM
    Hi Fellow Teachers,

    Today I was doing a ESL lesson with a 14-year-old in Italy, via Zoom.  We were playing "Quiz Show" and I asked him "How many continents are there in the world?" He replied 6. I replied, perpelexed, that there were 7. Then he was perplexed so we screenshared. He showed me that in Italy (and confirmed by looking at maps on the web), North and South America are considered one continent, America.  I showed him that in the US, North America and South America are considered separate continents. Furthermore in the US, Australia is considered a continent while outside the US the name is Oceania because Australia is only one of the countries comprising the continent.

    I am used to language having differences worldwide but I was quite surprised that even geography is culturally and geographically diverse. To my colleagues outside the United States, how many continents are there and what are they? Here is what those of us in the US are taught, in alphabetical order:

    Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America

    Thanks,
    Allison

    ------------------------------
    Allison Widmann, MSW, MPP, Certified TESOL
    ESL Teacher
    Language and Literacy, LLC
    United States
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 13-07-2022 04:58 PM
    Hi Allison,
    Even though I am aware of the same list you have...I also know of and think of Australia/Oceania as the same and I teach the American continent as comprising of North, South and Central America since it is all one large land mass. This raises the interesting question of CONTEXT in assesments- imagine a student from a different part of the world answering the same question but his/her context contemplates a different answer- it is a real issue with universal exams and language context being applied when defining answers. I am an advocate for interculturalization because as the internet shrinks our world- the more apparent it is to expand our perspectives.

    I learned of the Americas as one continent. On another note, It is surprising that North America and South American are viewed as separate continents and Central America is ignored.

    So many topics come to mind for me: creating assesments, subjectivity when correcting assesments, the politics of creating content, the power of content creation, interculturalization and our role as educators as agents of change...me just thinking out loud.

    Thank you for sharing,
    Suzanne

    ------------------------------
    Suzanne Rajkumar Action Tesol Caribbean
    Asst. Local Coordinator
    Corporate Bilingual Consultancy
    Honduras
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 13-07-2022 09:31 PM
    Hi Suzanne,

    When learning continents in the US, we learn that Central America is part of North America.  So is Greenland, which of course is covered with ice and has nothing green to speak of!  The issue of context is quite significant. I get quite concerned when, in the US, teachers focus on "socio-emotional learning (SEL)" as if all cultures should deal with emotions and social issues in the way that Americans do.  In my county (Fairfax County, Virginia, USA) almost 50% of the elementary school children do not speak English at home (with Spanish and Asian languages predominant) yet we are getting more and more talk of SEL in the schools. I do not teach in the schools but all my local students attend public schools and I am concerned they are being taught to "feel" and "act" in a way that may not respect their cultures.  I am fighting an uphill battle as SEL is politically very popular right now. What about other countries?

    Thanks,
    Allision

    ------------------------------
    Allison Widmann, MSW, MPP, Certified TESOL
    ESL Teacher
    Language and Literacy, LLC
    United States
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 30 days ago
    Very true Allison, I understand your concern. It is how do we help our learners appreciate their cultural context despite the obvious change impact that will occur by being in a different country.

    I live in Honduras, however I am originally from Trinidad and Tobago and my boys are learning Japanese at school- I try to make sure they are culturally appreciative and aware of the cultural influences in their decision making as multicultural individuals. It can be a lot- I try to focus on how they treat people while being aware of their socio-linguistic context as well as respecting that of their peers.

    I believe It is our 21st century challenge as educators to teach kindness with mutual respect even when it is not comfortable for us, herein lies the power of using SEL to manage hard conversations with care.

    Do you think teacher culture impacts the way and how SEL is imparted in classrooms?


    Looking forward to hearing your response,
    Suzanne

    ------------------------------
    Suzanne Rajkumar Action Tesol Caribbean
    Asst. Local Coordinator
    Corporate Bilingual Consultancy
    Honduras
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 30 days ago
    Edited by Nellie Deutsch 30 days ago
    Hi Allison,

    As a Canadian involved in providing professional development to teachers around the world, I'd like to understand more about your concerns regarding socio-emotional learning (SEL) as it is taught in the US "as if all cultures should deal with emotions and social issues in the way that Americans do".  As I understand it SEL involves the following:

    • Self-Awareness.
    • Self-Management.
    • Social Awareness.
    • Relationship Skills.
    • Responsible Decision-Making.

    As culture is an integral part of the "self", can you and others share specific examples of how SEL is taught in the US? Isn't the work on the "self" individualized? Maybe, I'm projecting my knowledge of the "self" as work done by formal and informal mindfulness and The Alexander Technique.

    I'm now wondering if SEL is taught differently in other parts of the world.

    How is SEL taught in your neck of the woods?

    ------------------------------
    Nellie Deutsch, Ed.D.
    University of Phoenix
    CALL-IS Co Chair Elect
    nelliemuller@email.phoenix.edu
    Moodle Teacher/Admin Trainer
    Mindfulness Practitioner
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 29 days ago
    Hello Nellie and Allison,

    As a mom of an 8 yr old and a 15 yr old I have observed some favorable outcomes in SEL and areas where I wish it could be more meaningful. When my younger son became frustrated on a shopping trip I asked him what did your teacher tell you to do when you feel like this- he immediately looked for a space on the floor, sat down with his legs crossed (meditation style) with his fingers resting on his knees thumb and index finger touching and started breathing deeply. He was able to calm himself.
    On the other hand with my adolescent has become more of an introvert since the pandemic and despite efforts by his school he is reticent to opening up.

    My questions are: what does self-awareness look like in different cultures?
    What is social awareness like for individuals in cultures where people are not aware of systemic oppression?



    ------------------------------
    Suzanne Rajkumar Action Tesol Caribbean
    Asst. Local Coordinator
    Corporate Bilingual Consultancy
    Honduras
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 29 days ago
    Edited by Nellie Deutsch 29 days ago
    Thank you for sharing, Suzanne.

    Your children's experiences with SEL indicate the need for parental involvement. Parents should be actively involved in the process of developing the program and kept in the loop before, during, and after any SELL implementation.

    I'm not sure that sitting on the floor and breathing is necessarily the way to go. Just sitting on a chair paying attention to the breathe with eyes open is enough. Sitting on the floor may not be acceptable in some cultures or in some families.

    ------------------------------
    Nellie Deutsch, Ed.D.
    University of Phoenix
    CALL-IS Co Chair Elect
    nelliemuller@email.phoenix.edu
    Moodle Teacher/Admin Trainer
    Mindfulness Practitioner
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 29 days ago
    Hi Nellie,

    Re: sitting on the floor, it was a spontaneous reaction and we were in the middle of a department store, after a long day of shopping so the little one was a bit cranky and desperate- I only prompted him to think of what to do help him deal with his feelings.

    His response surprised me, I stood by him, his older brother came and was shocked but after a couple.minutes my little one was better not as impatient and willing to wait out the rest.

    I think the closing of his eyes was to block out the distractions of all the persons around him.

    Now when it comes to dealing with his older brother, his self control strategies do not always work but we work on finding different ways to process his frustration so no one is hurt.

    For me Context is so important. I think a greater appreciation of Context among educators may help learning become more meaningful (big picture vision).

    ------------------------------
    Suzanne Rajkumar Action Tesol Caribbean
    Asst. Local Coordinator
    Corporate Bilingual Consultancy
    Honduras
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 29 days ago
    Hey Suzanne,

    Terms like "systematic oppression" are, de facto, culturally biased.  To many, the fact that Muslim women cannot be seen in public, or outside their homes, without their head covered (hijab or otherwise) is considered "systematic oppression." To believers of Islam, though, it is an important tenet of their faith. As I have posted several times, we have to be very cautious about how we use terminology and recognize that what one culture/faith/religion considers appropriate, another may judge as inappropriate. Which is why I believe socio-emotional learning is best done at home, in the family and not in the school system.

    Respectfully,
    Allison

    ------------------------------
    Allison Widmann, MSW, MPP, Certified TESOL
    ESL Teacher
    Language and Literacy, LLC
    United States
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 29 days ago
    Hello Nellie,
    SEL is widely misunderstood in the US and elsewhere. The elements you mentioned in your message refer to CASEL.org. They have the most up-to-date and research-based information about SEL in the classroom, school- and district-wide. SEL must be integrated throughout the day and not as a separate course taught a few times a week or even all week for a short period. The way it's included varies widely among different classrooms. It needs to meet the needs of your students and be culturally sensitive and contextualized. Teachers should be informed/trained about it and students need to be aware that they are life skills that will prepare them for life's ups and downs.

    ------------------------------
    Ilene Winokur, EdD.
    RCIS Member At Large
    PD Specialist
    Kuwait
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 28 days ago
    Hello Everyone,

    Thank you all for the insightful contributions. I would love to invite our colleagues to share their experiences with SEL in the classroom.

    Questions:
    Is it enough to teach tolerance and mutual respect at school?
    Can SEL truly be integrated into classes? What has been your experience?
    Can SEL work as a parent/teacher/student collaboration program?

    Please share your experiences.


    ------------------------------
    Suzanne Rajkumar Action Tesol Caribbean
    Asst. Local Coordinator
    Corporate Bilingual Consultancy
    Honduras
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 28 days ago
    Hello all,

    My original question on this thread had to do with the number of continents in the world, not SEL. For those who have read my responses on this issue, I think it is not appropriate for classroom instruction and belongs at home, by parents/faith persons or anyone BUT a teacher lecturing in a paid classroom.

    If you want to discuss SEL, please do so on a separate thread. I am intersted in geographical differences in teaching geographical issues and would prefer a discussion of SEL to take place elsewhere...similar to my feelings about SEL occurring outside the classroom.

    Respectfully,
    Allison

    ------------------------------
    Allison Widmann, MSW, MPP, Certified TESOL
    ESL Teacher
    Language and Literacy, LLC
    United States
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 28 days ago
    Hi Allison,

    Since you first mentioned SEL in your reply to Suzanne, the thread took that direction.

    Hi Suzanne,


    When learning continents in the US, we learn that Central America is part of North America.  So is Greenland, which of course is covered with ice and has nothing green to speak of!  The issue of context is quite significant. I get quite concerned when, in the US, teachers focus on "socio-emotional learning (SEL)" as if all cultures should deal with emotions and social issues in the way that Americans do.  In my county (Fairfax County, Virginia, USA) almost 50% of the elementary school children do not speak English at home (with Spanish and Asian languages predominant) yet we are getting more and more talk of SEL in the schools. I do not teach in the schools but all my local students attend public schools and I am concerned they are being taught to "feel" and "act" in a way that may not respect their cultures.  I am fighting an uphill battle as SEL is politically very popular right now. What about other countries?

    Thanks,
    Allision

    As to Geography, perhaps others can take us back.

    ------------------------------
    Nellie Deutsch, Ed.D.
    University of Phoenix
    CALL-IS Co Chair Elect
    nelliemuller@email.phoenix.edu
    Moodle Teacher/Admin Trainer
    Mindfulness Practitioner
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 28 days ago
    Hi Ilene,

    I agree that life skills need to be integrated into the curriculum throughout the day.

    Thank you for giving me more insight into how SEL is taught in the US. I wonder how it's taught in other countries and if they refer to it as SEL or just provide young learners with life skills.

    ------------------------------
    Nellie Deutsch, Ed.D.
    University of Phoenix
    CALL-IS Co Chair Elect
    nelliemuller@email.phoenix.edu
    Moodle Teacher/Admin Trainer
    Mindfulness Practitioner
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 28 days ago

    Hi Allison,
    For me in Honduras I was taught that there were five continents: America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Then we learnt about certain divisions within continents, East/West Europe, Middle East, Australia/Oceania, North, Central and South America.  There are variations in the way it is taught now differentiating geographic areas due to history and also the use of American as the demonym for US citizens.
    I believe the variations also have to do with those who write the books and where they get their facts from. I have noticed for example in history of Honduras books a lot of variations depending on the authors. An example is related to national heroes, we used to learn about some real life national heroes that shaped our country's history and now in some newer books we see that those who we were taught were real life heroes are now only legends or myths.  So there might be the same influence in terms of how geography is taught is different places of the world.
    I just want to add in terms of learning about geography and history in our country within our secondary school curriculum we have history/geography of Honduras, of America (the continent) and the World. Our social studies subject at the primary level also includes a similar division and even at the undergraduate level General History is taught similarly. It would be interesting to learn how curriculums for the different levels are designed and who are the authors of the books/materials/resources used. Finding out about this would maybe provide some insight as to why these subjects have the content they have and why we see variations in other countries.

    Thanks for bringing this up for discussion to understand differences not only in how language is taught/learnt but other cultural influences we have in education. 


    Best wishes,

    Grazzia 



    ------------------------------
    Grazzia Maria Mendoza Chirinos, M.Ed., M.A.
    Strand Coordinator Teacher Education
    TESOL International Association Past Board Member 2019-2022
    USAID, Education Development Specialist
    Honduras
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 20 days ago

    All,
    I don't usually intervene in discussions on TESOL, but only wish to do so here because this one seems to be entirely missing the point. Not everyone in the world learns geography the same way. In my second lifelong language French, there are only six continents. In others, there are only four or five. Obviously, ELLs are going to be confused in the same way they're confused that "pants" is always plural in English whereas it's singular (and the same word!) in Arabic, Spanish, French, and Turkish. Trying to understand logically is useless. You have to look at each language in its own context and history. This is why, in my humble opinion, the best professional development for ESL instructors-far more than a conference or degree-is to live in a non-English-speaking country extensively and thoroughly learn another language. 

    For more information about this topic:

    https://history.howstuffworks.com/world-history/continents.htm

    Bradley Hodges
    Instructor
    The English Language Institute
    Georgia Gwinnett College
    Lawrenceville, GA



    ------------------------------
    Brad Hodges
    Lead Instructor
    The English Language Institute
    Georgia Gwinnett College
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: How many continents in the world?

    Posted 19 days ago
    Good point about the multi-national perspectives on geography- and the power of multilingualism for everyone. I concur: more of us need to walk the talk by committing to fluency in at least 1 other language.

    ------------------------------
    [Melissa] [Aberle-Grasse]
    [Senior Lecturer]
    [Faculty Affiliate, Serve-Learn-Sustain Georgia Tech]
    [Georgia Institute of Technology]
    [U.S.]
    ------------------------------