It's too damn tight! Media in ESOL Classrooms: Structural Features in Technical/Subtechnical English

Fanselow, John

During college summer vacations I cleaned boiler and did electrical work. In secondary school I took wood shop and electric shop. My father was an electrician and when he did odd jobs I went with him and handed him tools and spliced wires, etc. In primary school I took cooking lessons via a TV program.

In all of these settings the way we talked about tools and kitchen utensils was totally different from the way I saw teachers introduce tools and kitchen utensils and also the way textbooks introduced these items.

So in 1980, I wrote an article and submitted it to The TESOL Quarterly an article contrasting the way we talk about tools and kitchen utensils as we use them and the way teachers and textbooks presented them. In the title, It’s too damn tight, as well as in the article I use words that are taboo in all ESOL textbooks around the world. Why these words are taboo continues to baffle me! In the present age of the internet we can access all sorts of words that are still taboo in textbooks!

When I worked with English teachers in Somalia the textbooks prescribed that teachers should teach parts of the body such as head, mouth, arm, etc. But the students were interested in the words for private parts of the body, not public parts. So many teachers supplemented head, mouth, etc. with the words students were keen to master.


Also Published In

TESOL Quarterly

More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Published Here
December 18, 2019