DEAR ABBY: I was surprised at the letter from the reader in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., who feels using your column to teach English as a second language might send the wrong message about the United States.
You were right on the money when you said that "See Spot Run" and cartoon-like depictions no longer hold the interest of adult learners. I am a professor of English in France and often use your column to teach adult conversational English. My students find the exercise a fun and interesting way to practice English. Judging by their responses, the problems in your column are in no way unique to the U.S. -- SHARI YOUNGBLOOD, PARIS, FRANCE
DEAR SHARI: I was heartened by the number of letters I received from readers who wanted to defend the column. Thank you for yours. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I teach a writing class at a teacher's college. Your column transcends national boundaries. I took special delight when you expressed best wishes to your Muslim readers at the end of Ramadan. Your column shows America to the world, and because of your sage advice, the wisdom displayed and your evident sympathy -- indeed, that shown by your readers as well -- you present America at its best. -- JACK DUNSTER, LUBLIN, POLAND
DEAR JACK: It is a given that my readers are people who are interested in, and care about, one another.
DEAR ABBY: I have been teaching English in Korea for several months. Every country in the world struggles with the same moral issues that we do. Am I supposed to give my adult students Mother Goose stories? -- DEREK DENTON, SEOUL
DEAR DEREK: Certainly not. To teach successfully, one must hold the student's interest.
DEAR ABBY: I am an English teacher. The reader from Harpers Ferry cites "sibling rivalry, spousal mistrust and sexual abuse" among things your column supposedly promotes. As you pointed out, discussion and promotion are two entirely different things. If we are to stick solely to British and American "classics" to teach English, take a closer look: There's sibling rivalry in the works of Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen and Emily Bronte, to name a few. Spousal mistrust is featured in "Hamlet," Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," and anything written by Steinbeck or Hemingway. And look no further than "The Scarlet Letter" if you want to talk about sexual dysfunction and abuse.
I won't even begin to address the woman's ridiculous act of placing "homosexuality" on her list of social ills. -- BARBARA BORTOT, MINNESOTA
DEAR BARBARA: It's usually those topics people are afraid to discuss that need to be talked about the most.
DEAR ABBY: Your column consistently uses a few well-chosen -- often eloquent -- words to say a great deal on a vast array of topics, typically with grace, wit, style, and a uniquely American use of irony to drive home a point. Equally important, you treat all of your readers with compassion and dignity and call upon them to treat others accordingly.
"Harpers Ferry" gave the Dear Abby column an R-rating. In my book, any teacher smart enough to recognize the column as an effective teaching tool to help others understand and communicate what it really means to be an American, gets an A-plus. -- GEORGE MARCELLE, LOS ANGELES
DEAR GEORGE: Thank you for beautifully articulating the Dear Abby philosophy.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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