If you don’t like being stereotyped, DON’T DO IT TO OTHERS.
I am definitely not here to throw anyone under the bus, but when it comes to language, culture is always involved; because language and culture go hand-in-hand.
That is why it is so important to talk about the golden rule in reference to language learning. Especially when talking about stereotypes and accents.
I’m not sure if “The Golden Rule” exists in the same way in all or other cultures, or not, but the golden rule is something that is widely taught (especially when we are young) in the United States.
The golden rule is this: treat others, the way you want to be treated.
This is so important when learning about other cultures, because stereotypes exist everywhere, and NO ONE likes being stereotyped. It is also important to discuss the golden rule when learning a new language, because we all have accents and we all want to sound like native speakers, but most of the time we don’t.
When it comes to accents, this sign is something I saw in a local restaurant recently, and I think it gets the point across perfectly:
We are ALL learning, so let’s choose to treat each other the way we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
My second example, to show the importance of this message, is from a real situation that happened in one of my classrooms.
Teaching in a multi-cultural classroom can come with challenges from time to time, but I’ll be honest most of the time it’s not as challenging as my professors in college would have had me believe. People may come from different cultures and backgrounds, but the way they act or respond in a given situation can also be pretty universal.
The point of this story is not to isolate any one person, culture or country as a group of people who typically stereotype others, because like I said above, stereotypes exist everywhere and for some reason people like to make jokes about them. This story is just a good example of talking about stereotypes and the golden rule, and the cool thing is, as soon as I called this student out, they immediately apologized and realized their mistake.
On that note, there are 3 people in this story: a Peruvian student (A), a Saudi Arabian student (B), and me the teacher (C).
(A) Do you ride your camel to school?
(C) Woooah. Hold on a second. __A__ why would you say something like that?
(A) I just thought it was funny…
(C) Well let me ask you something, Do you ride your Llama to school?
(A) Oh ha, that’s a good one.
(C) How do you feel when people stereotype you like that?
(A) Not good.
(C) Ok then, don’t do it to others.
(A) You’re right. I’m sorry.
(C) Don’t apologize to me, apologize to __B__.
(A) I’m sorry I said that.
(B) It’s okay.
The moral of the story is— stick to the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
…Also, stereotypes exist in ALLLLL cultures, so just don’t be that person.