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Why Prep?

English Teaching Ideas
Especially for EFL / ESL

Note:  This page is just getting started.


For Age Group:  Adult learners

Level:  Advanced

AIM:  To improve listening, fluency, and turn-taking

Objective:  Discuss Cross-cultural socio-pragmatics re: pick-up lines in English

Content:  Pick-up Lines


Re:  Pick-up lines and applied linguistics

Dear all,

I recently read an article, which has peaked my interest.  I share it with you now:

"Top 10 worst pick-up lines" 
By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates  
Posted on MSN, date was not posted, but I'm guessing November 22, 2003

Devastatingly beautiful dates, sumptuous excursions and scintillating conversations are all benefits of the single life but contrary to popular belief, there is a downside to being relationship-free: The torture of being subjected to stale, decades-old, pick-up lines is penance for all that fun. In a survey taken across a range of age groups, geographical borders and lifestyles, we have compiled the top 10 worst pick-up lines that have sullied the ears of singles everywhere:

1. "What's your sign?"
2. "Pardon me, I seem to have lost my phone number, can I borrow yours?"
3. "You must be a broom because you're sweeping me off my feet."
4. "Do you have a license? Because you're driving me crazy."
5. "I gotta thirst and baby, you look like my Gatorade."
6. "Are you lost? Because heaven's a long way from here."
7. "Are you religious? Because you're the answer to all my prayers."
8. "Can I take your picture? I want Santa to know exactly what I want for Christmas."
9. "Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?"
10. "Well, here I am. What are your other two wishes?"

*********End of quotation from article**********************

I cut out all the commentaries on each pick-up line, but to give you a synopsis the pick-up lines above didn't work on women, but some worked on men. Here is a quotation from one of the subjects of the study:

" I had a guy use this one [#5] on me and I rolled my eyes and walked way," says Susan, a marketing representative who doesn't usually go for lines. "But a couple of weeks later, I saw this hot guy at the gym and I used that same line and it worked! I guess there are gender preferences when it comes to lines. He was really flattered, where I was insulted when it was used on me."

This might be good subject material for adult learners of English, and discussion of socio-pragmatics in relation to the difference in gender-based perception of language.

I personally don't care what the pick-up line is, it all depends on how attractive the woman is making the pick-up line.  BUT, I must clarify: even if the woman is not particularly attractive to me, I would still be flattered, but I would give subtle hints to suggest that the conversation is going to end very soon, such as "I have to go to the men's' room.  Bye."  I do not think that the same thing goes for women.  I used the following pick-up line on a woman, "Excuse me, are you a model?", and she gave me the "evil" eye, as if to say, "That is the stupidest line I've ever heard."

Had roles been reversed and had she used the exact same pick-up line on me, I would have been flattered.  I don't know why women react so poorly to pick-up lines, but they generally do.  I think we men erroneously assume that what would work on us, would work on women, (if and when we try), but we are often baffled and stunned by the reactions that we get.  I knew that the line was not particularly creative, but the deep structure was that I found her attractive.  She should have recognized that and took it as a compliment, which is another thing...

The way people accept compliments differ according to culture.  In the English-speaking West, we are taught to say, "Thanks," but in Korea (and possibly Japan and China as well) to say, "Thanks," connotes a certain arrogance, as if to ratify the compliment, or in other words:  saying "Thanks," is like saying, "I know I am attractive, charming, smart... (whatever the compliment was)."  In, Korea (and probably most of the Orient) one should be humble and modest, denying any knowledge of one's own prowess or attractiveness.  It is almost expect that one will deny a compliment.

You want to read something interesting about compliments?  Here in China, I have been told by other teachers (who've sat in on my classes) that I'm a good teacher.  However, I know I'm not... I'm still learning and experimenting with my teaching style, and I know I have a long way to go yet.  Therefore, I got the distinct impression that the compliment was "paid" merely as a kind of formality, or part of some socio-cultural expectation, so had I said, "Thanks," it would have been perceived as arrogance upon arrogance, because the compliment wasn't sincere.  I think it would be similar to a situation where/when a native English speaker told me that my lesson was 'interesting', and I said, "Thanks."  [Interpolatively, I think we ought to teach our students the illocution that the word "interesting" carries.]

But, I digress.

Topics For Discussion in Class:

1.  There appears to be gender-based differences about the way pick-up lines are perceived (and hence received).  Have students discuss this.  What works?  What doesn't? (For men and for women).

2.  Contrast cultural differences in pick-up lines / compliments and how to tell the difference.

Extension Topic:

Compliments (how paid and how received in different cultures).

[ More Ideas on my Weekly Activities Page ]






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