‘Paragraph Blogging’ at 30k feet

Sometime around February 2015, Anna met Kate at a cafe in Moscow (yes, my ELT blog memory is long, maybe longer than my IRL memory?!) and had a #livebloggingparty…and out of that came an idea that appealed to me because…well, because I…often have a hard/painful time shaping great ideas into coherent and beautiful written form, am lazy, like to experiment with my writing style, often feel the urge to blog from a cell phone, etc.


Anna went on to share a paragraph-length story about a critical incident in a recent class of hers. And it does the trick! It’s readable, doable, enjoyable, and informative. Here’s mine, which may tick at least one of those boxes:

(Written on a Seattle-Los Angeles flight on September 30th) I just watched two non-English speakers get moved out of the exit row of this plane because – as the stewardess said to at them – they don’t have an interpreter on the flight. The passengers didn’t seem all too bothered, but it took the flight attendant far too long to perform her communicative function and allow them to understand what was happening. And I called them ‘non-English’ speakers above, but really, there’s nobody on this flight who can’t follow a few well-delivered instructions in basic English. It made me think that American Airlines should hire Chia Suan Chong to help their employees communicate better with people who aren’t English native speakers, strategically using English as an international language. Or at the very least, this stewardess who likely deals with all levels of English proficiency all the time could sit down with an iPad and watch Stephanie Hanson at Cornell’s International Teaching Assistant Development Program (and a number of international students who express themselves wonderfully in giving first-hand advice) explain what’s needed to communicate effectively with non-native speakers. 


OK, that’s my paragraph but I’m going to cheat with this epilogue: some tips from Cornell (see link above)…




Finally, I’m reminded of this cringeworthy movie scene (sorry in advance!). Granted, the issue with the barista character is less lack of EIL skills than simply acting like a &%$# but still…

(scene from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Vinglish)

3 thoughts on “‘Paragraph Blogging’ at 30k feet

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I agree that almost everyone should have training to deal with non English speakers, including the use of gestures, simplification, and repetition. This clip below was great. Where is it from?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I will definitely be watching this movie.
      To take the barista’s side (barely), Sridevi should have been a little more prepared for what she was doing. By that, I mean, she should have looked at a menu, prepared some phrases, perhaps had an internal dialogue about what may happen, had money ready, etc. When I’m trying to accomplish something in a foreign language, I do these pre-task steps. I did it a lot when I was in Korea. I think ti’s a good language learning strategy.


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