I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be here. I thought I was, but I didn't have wifi earlier when I should have posted, and then when I looked Elen had posted a competition. So I have skulked around until really late and I can sneak out and post when no one is looking - just in case I am *not* supposed to be here.
The first exercise I set them involved finding a well-known story. 'Think of a story everyone knows,' I said. 'Like a Greek myth, or a fairy story, or a Bible story'. (They are Americans, remember - I wouldn't suggest a Bible story if they were British as they probably wouldn't know any.) One girl stared forlornly at me. She is from China. 'Do you know any fairy stories?' I asked. 'Do you know the three billy goats gruff? Beauty and the beast?' We were getting nowhere. 'Cinderella?'
'Ah, Disney!' she beamed.
Yes, she knew the plot of every Disney movie.
I had to add Disney to the list of allowable stories because Disney 'culture' is truly international. She was not the only one who didn't know any traditional European tales, including Greek myths. There was a student from El Salvador who also opted for Disney.
Is it good or bad? I can't grumble that a Chinese student doesn't know all my traditional tales. After all, I don't know many Chinese traditional tales. I found it rather disappointing that Disney was the only shared ground, the only global repository of narratives we could plunder. But maybe it's more interesting that there even is a store of tales that people from virtually anywhere in the world know. I'm not sure. It's obviously bad if it replaces local culture, but if it's in addition to it, as it is for these students? What do you think?