Presentations in local languages

The ability to present to an audience in a local language can be more challenging for some of my students than presenting in English. My perception is that mistakes in one's L1 increase the risk of laughter from other speakers of that language. Mistakes in English are generally forgiven as everyone in the room is L2 in English.


The linguistic complexity of the classroom here is also hard to appreciate. The class is not bilingual, the class is multilingual. Mutually unintelligible languages. The distance is not that seen between French, Spanish, and Italian, but perhaps rather Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish. The languages are from a common Austronesian family, but diverged long ago and developed in relative isolation on the islands of the Pacific.


The reports are forecasts of rainfall and sea level based on the Pacific ENSO Update bulletin produced by the Pacific El NiƱo-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Applications Climate Center in Honolulu. Forecasts for individual islands are given, the students are reporting forecasts for their own islands, translating from English to their own language.


Of interest was that some students who I know to be confident when presenting in English became more self-conscious when presenting in their own language. An error in English is a common occurrence. An error in one's own language is, at least here, more embarrassing.

Teaching here is not teaching in an ESL environment but rather in an EAJOOML: English As Just One Of Many Languages.


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