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GLOBAL ISSUES IN LANGUAGE
EDUCATION NEWSLETTER
December 1995 - Issue No. #21 (p. 4 - 5)

Teaching Against Prejudice

1995 is the United Nations Year of Tolerance. How are foreign language textbooks around the world helping to promote the tolerance needed in our multicultural global village? The following story, taken from a high school English textbook in Korea, is one example of how language texts can combat prejudice and promote international understanding while teaching language skills.

"The New Doctor"

adapted from a story by Werner Beile

We often form opinions about people from their age, nationality, etc. The following story tells us why this is wrong.

Dr. Cook had a large practice, much too large for one aged person. So when he was sixty, he decided to look for a partner. A young man with a good temper would be fine, he thought. At last he found somebody - Dr. Akram, a young Pakistani doctor.

When his patients heard this, they were very concerned. Mrs. Evans heard about it first, and of course she had to tell her neighbor, Mrs. Green.
"Have you heard? Dr. Cook's new partner's a Pakistani."
"What? A Pakistani? He's not going to live here, is he?"
"Yes, he is - in the house over the road next to Dr. Cook's office."
"But we don't want any Pakistanis here. This is a nice quiet street, and Pakistanis are so noisy, aren't they?"
"Yes, and I bet he's got a lot of children."
"Yes, they always have, haven't they? And all that curry - it smells terrible. You can smell it everywhere."
"Well, I'm not going to go to a Pakistani doctor," said Mrs. Evans in a harsh voice. "If I have to go to the doctor, I'm going to go to Dr. Cook."
"But Mom," said Steve Evans, "perhaps he's better than old Dr. Cook. And anyway, there are a lot of Pakistanis at our school, and they're O.K."
"Be quiet, Steve," said his mother knitting her brows. "You don't know anything about it."

The news went around quickly. Mrs. Green told Mrs. Barton, Mrs. Barton told Mrs. Simpson, and so on, until a few days later people were saying eagerly: "Have you heard about the new doctor? He's a Pakistani with a lot of children. They're a noisy family, and they always eat curry, and they smell. It's awful, isn't it?"

However, everybody was very surprised when the Asian family moved in. There were only two children, about six and eight. The parents looked quite respectable and the children had good manners. And, of course, they did not smell.

Dr. Cook was happy with the arrival of the young partner, and the two doctors divided work between them. Dr. Cook was in the office three days a week, and Dr. Akram's office hours were on the other three days. But nobody wanted to go to the Pakistani doctor.

"You mustn't worry if you don't have any patients at first," Dr. Cook told Dr. Akram. "You know what people are like. They need time to get used to a new doctor."
"Yes, it takes time," said Dr. Akram, "especially when he's Pakistani."

But six weeks later Dr. Akram still had only a few patients. Nearly everybody went to see Dr. Cook. Dr. Akram began to get really worried, but he didn't know how to handle the situation.

One Saturday afternoon Mrs. Evans was talking to Mrs. Green in the living room, when suddenly her son Steve ran in from the garden. He was carrying his baby sister in his arms.
"Mom! Quick!" he shouted. "The baby fell in the pond!"
Mrs. Evans snatched the child from him and looked at her.
"Oh, my God. She's stopped breathing! What can I do?"
"Take her across the road to Dr. Cook. Quick!" said Mrs. Green with great concern.
A minute later the doorbell rang at the doctor's office. The nurse opened the door.
"I must see Dr. Cook immediately," said Mrs. Evans. "My baby fell in the pond, and she's stopped breathing."
"Go on quickly into the office," said the nurse. "Dr. Cook's out at the moment, but Dr. Akram's there."
"Oh, Dr. Akram?" said Mrs. Evans, surprised. "Oh, yes, of course," she said, hurrying in.

Dr. Akram worked quickly and carefully. Mrs. Evans watched anxiously. Fifteen minutes later - it seemed like hours to Mrs. Evans - the baby opened her eyes. Mrs. Evans could hardly believe it.
"Oh, thank you, Doctor!" she cried gratefully.
"You're lucky," said Dr. Akram. "We were only just in time."
Of course, Mrs. Evans had to tell all her friends about it.
"You heard about our baby, didn't you?" she told them. "No? Well, she fell in the pond and was nearly drowned. We thought it was too late, but Dr. Akram, you know, the new Pakistani doctor, managed to save her life. I must say he's an excellent doctor."

A few days later, Dr. Akram was talking to Dr. Cook. "I had six more patients this morning," he told him in good spirits.
"Did you?" said Dr. Cook. "I'm glad to hear it. You see, you don't have to worry. It just takes time."

Reprinted from High School English IIA by Lee, Maeng Sung et al (1992) published by Jihaksa, 85-108 A-hyundong, Mapogu, Seoul, KOREA. The story itself has been adapted from Learning English, Modern Course 2 by Werner Beile. (Stuttgart: Klett)

COMPREHENSION CHECKUP

  1. Why did Dr. Cook decide to look for a partner?

  2. Why were Dr. Cook's patients worried when they heard about the new doctor?

  3. Why was everybody surprised when the new doctor's family moved in?

  4. What happened to Mrs. Evan's baby one Saturday afternoon?

  5. What made more and more patients go to the new doctor?

FILL IN THE BLANKS

Dr. Cook had so many _________ that he needed a _________. He wanted as his partner a _________ doctor with a good _________. He chose Dr. Akram. When his patients heard about this, they were _________ because the new doctor was a _________. Dr. Akram ____________ and the two _________ divided work _________ them. At first, _________ patients wanted to go to Dr. Akram. One day Mrs. Evans baby fell in a _________ and was almost _________. Dr. Akram worked _________ and carefully, and _________ the baby's life. The news _________ quickly, and Dr. Akram began to have _________ and _________ patients.

*****

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