Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Ideal Husband or Wife

Last week, my class had a very lively discussion on the subject of arranged marriage. That discussion turned into an even livelier whole class discussion in which absolutely everyone participated - all having something to say. Now, this is not terribly surprising given that my class is a virtual United Nations. What was interesting was that over half of them came from countries that strongly endorse and practice arranged marriage - countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Ethiopia, Burundi - even Korea and Japan who haven't given up on the custom - especially for their post "25 year olds" who have lost their youthful bloom and appeal. Now, we're talking about "arranged marriage," not forced marriage. These are marriages in which women have a complete right to refuse any of all of the candidates that are put before her. The concept of "love marriages" has now been introduced to some of the more youthful students in the class, whereas some of the older people saw the merit in arranged marriage. All of this discussion naturally led to the topic of just what characteristics a good husband would have to have. A class brainstorm yielded a number of qualities, including being loving, trusting, helpful, responsible, practical, trustworthy,reliable,respectful and having a good education.  After the diuscussion, the students wrote a composition on the characteristics of a good husband or wife. The contents were quite interesting.
All the married students wrote about what makes a marriage work, whereas all the unmarried students wrote about ideals of love, tenderness and having a good education. All of the Muslim women focused heavily on the the desire for a man who would respect them, both inside and outside the house, in front of others, especially in front of the children. So... respect , or lack of respect was playing a strong role in their marriages. We have a lot to learn here in Canada. 
Certain things we take for granted in Canada would never even come up with women from these cultures. Not one student mentioned the idea of someone who might be a good father. The idea just didn't play when I brought it up, nor did the concept of a husband " being considerate". "What does considerate mean," one student asked. I told her that an example of a considerate husband would be a one who picked up the kids from day care on a day you were running late. Another example would be a husband  who started making dinner immediately when he   got home in order to prevent the melt down children suffer if they are not fed almost as soon as they walk in the door. One or two two women thought this was a fantastic idea, and even admitted that their husbands might actually do something like that, but the rest laughed and said "come on. You must be dreaming. The men...well the men were simply in disbelief mode.
Ah the joys of teaching ESL. You are constantly learning, and learning and learning. Never take anything for granted. Cherish what you have.


  1. I was send my friend who was same classmate before class.
    she is not Michelle student but likes Michelle's blog.
    I hope that her English will improve.

  2. I am flattered that your friend likes my blog. I am working on it for all ESL students who can use extra practive on their English skills. Everbody shouldfeel free to omment either about the blog, the links or the topics I choose.

  3. My friend called me yesterday and thanks to me. she was so happy which It was very useful for her.
    Thanks Michelle.

  4. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.


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