Fashioning an intercultural voice

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					Fashioning an intercultural

       Ben Goldstein,
    IATEFL, Cardiff 2009
1 cultural content in ELT materials: a
  critique (e.g. food)
2 intercultural content: some dangers
3 classroom ideas
4 language autobiographies / memoirs
     1 Cultural content in ELT
       materials: a critique
1 information-laden texts
2 target culture emphasized over
3 aspirational contexts, removed from
  learners‟ world
4 individualism & the self highlighted
5 anachronistic / stereotypical models still
2 “intercultural content”: some
- traditional content given „intercultural
 - cultural do’s and dont’s / „othering’
 - pop anthropology (e.g. global greetings)
 - taboo behaviour / negative etiquette
- focus on country rather than
   international speech community
3 classroom ideas

i a subjective atlas
ii the English around me
iii cultural misconceptions
iv diversity in my community
v my view of English/the English
          i) a subjective atlas
Learners can analyse a country‟s identity through
    images… …

1   Redesign flags / bank notes / stamps / signs / maps
    / other cultural artefacts
2   Consider how culture/community/country is
    projected for visitors? (brochures, etc.)
3   Collect memorabilia to create own version of
    community and its inhabitants to share with others.
     ii) the English around me
Identify English words used in your community…

In the media
In advertising
In slang / street language
In everyday conversation

Why has English been used, to what effect?
       iii) cultural misconceptions
Everyone thinks that...
Apparently, we also...
When actually...
But, I suppose it‟s true that…
  iv) diversity in my community
Ethnographic project, students conduct interview in their

1 What would you like people in the community to know
   about your country?
2 What‟s your contribution to the community?
3 What local customs do you keep? Why these and not
4 Is there any crossover between cultures? In what
    v) my view of English / an
     English-speaking world

“I miss the freedom that the children have
   because they can just play outside and the
   parents don't really worry that much,
   whereas here there is a lot of worrying going
      Dickerson (aged 15), Madagascar
4 Language autobiographies
 / memoirs
Guo: “A Chinese / English Dictionary for Lovers”
Hoffman: „Lost in Translation”
Kaplan: “French Lessons”

Language Teaching Memoirs: Schmidt, etc.
“Chinese, we not
having grammar. We
saying things simple
way. No verb-
change usage, no
tense differences, no
gender changes. We
bosses of our
language. But,
English language is
boss of English
user.”          p.24
 “Polish words slip off
  them [the people]
  without sticking.
  English words don‟t
  hook on to anything.
The words float in an
  uncertain space…
  (having) no
  connection to my
  instincts, reactions,
  knowledge. Even the
  simplest adjectives
  sow confusion in my
  mind.”        p. 108
“I could feel the
French sticking in
my throat, the new
muscles in my
I was full of French,
it was holding me
up, running through
me, a voice in my
head, a tickle in my
ear, likely to be set
off at any time. A
counter language”
                p. 70
         A Third Space

“Learners seek out a personal space
where two worlds exist simultaneously, …
(here) they will make their own meanings
and relevances, often challenging the
established educational canons of both
native and target cultures”.

                        Kramsch, p.238
A way forward…

1 Promote a flexible model of English open to
    student appropriation and emergent forms.

2 Allow learners to develop space to internalize
     language and fashion their own voice.

3 Encourage a context-sensitive and culture-
    specific approach (e.g. determine „cultural
    content‟ according to local needs).
4 “Do not isolate language teaching from transcultural
    flows of culture, language, music and text”.
      (Pennycook, 2009)

5 Develop critical awareness and reflection in terms of
    presentation of culture. Challenge the „familiar‟.

6 Stay tuned to where our students are at, (i.e. consider
    global urban subcultures - hip-hop, etc. and local
    versions thereof) to inform classroom practice.
“If the world is imposing English on our
 students, we … can enable them,
 through English, to impose their voices
 on the world”

              Warschauer, 2000, p. 511

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