ENGLISH 343-001Cross-cultural issues in TESOL:Examining cross-cultural practicesin the context of teaching Englishas a global language
Learning to teach is not just about learning a body of knowledge andtechniques; it is also about learning to work in complex sociopoliticaland cultural political space and negotiating ways of doing this with ourpast histories, fears, and desires; our own knowledges and cultures; ourstudents’ wishes and preferences; and the institutional constrains andcollaborations. Alan Luke from Critical Pedagogies and Language Learning
AgendaPART I:• Welcome back!• Who are we?—Hemmingways Six Words Memoir• Why are we here?—Course objectives• Reading the syllabus• Common abbreviations in TESOL/Applied linguisticsPart II• Essentialist and non-essentialist views of culture• Personal definition of culture• Holliday and Kumar readings• Assignments for next week
Why are we here? What do we hope to achieve?The goal of this class is:• Help you understand theories of language and culture while enhancing their awareness on the non-essentialist approaches to culture.• reflect on personalized cultural beliefs and values and analyze how they shape second language classroom pedagogies.• develop a culturally sensitive vision of TESOL which de-centralize and decolonize knowledge and English language teaching.• examine macro issues such as language ideologies, multilingualism, language policies and planning and micro issues such as classroom interactions, participation patterns and cross-cultural issues in curriculum and material development.• obtain an understanding on issues such as cultural assimilation, cultural globalization, otherization and how these apply to language learning and teaching.• understand how race, class, gender and ethnicity impact language teaching and learning in the global context.• analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and interpretations, and engage in scholarly dialogues about different theories of language and culture.
Some critical questions we will tackle thissemester:• What is culture? What is the relationship between language and culture?• What are some of the different perspectives in defining culture?• Why does culture matter in English language teaching?• What culture do we teach when we teach English as an international language?• How can we teach culture more effectively in the classroom?• Are there privileged/underprivileged cultures that enhance ESL/EFL learning and teaching?• What are ESL/EFL teachers’ role in promoting culturally sensitive pedagogies?
Reading the syllabus• Read:Course DescriptionsCourse ProjectsClass Civility• Take about 5 minutes to skim through the syllabus: What questions do you have so far?
Common Abbreviations• See the abbreviations handout. Work in pairs to fill it out in your best ability. We will then gather as a group.
Definitions of culture• Compose your definition of culture (e.g. write, draw, act)• Share it in your groups and discuss why culture matters in language teaching.
CULTURE NEVER JUST“IS” BUT INSTEAD“DOES”Heath & Street, 2008
Assignments• Open a blog account• Create a first entry• Send it to : firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday• Readings and critical blog responses by Monday 11 a.m.
CULTURE AND TESOLEnglish 345 week 2
AGENDAPART I:• Reminders: Class readings, class blog, discussions• Your voices• Holliday: Essentialist vs non-essentialist view of culture• Discussions from Holliday articles• Kumar’s Chapter 2: Culture and its complexities• Atkinson’s TESOL & Culture Article• At 8:00, we will wrap up the discussion to allow time for the followings:Sign up for the class discussions, assistance with blogs, answeringquestions related to syllabus/projects
• Books are available @Alamo!• Class readings are available in digital reserve. Bring them with you in each class.• Class Blog: http://crossculturalissuestesol.blogspot.com/• Learning log contents (550 words minimum—2 pages, double space):1) Summary of the articles2) Your reflections, critique.3) Connection to your own teaching and learning experiences4) Further questionsRecommended: Bring a copy of your blog entry/critical responsepaper to class each week.
YOUR VOICESCritical responses to the articles
Ryann comments on Atkinson’s article:• On the first day in this class we wrote down our definition of culture on an index card. The definition I wrote down has already changed. Specifically after reading this article, I have realized that “culture” does not have a clear definition. The article is filled with scholars trying to define this one term and yet there still is no one agreed upon one concrete definition. One change I have made to my own definition comes from a realization- that culture can be individualistic. One part of the article states that cultures are not “neatly bound and mutually exclusive bodies of thought and custom” which are shared by each and every member. Cultures are not groups of brainwashed robots who think, feel and act the same way but instead consist of living, breathing, unique individuals.
Ryann continues…• In the conclusion of this article there is a reference to the relationship between a forest and its trees. When I read this I saw the overall forest representing a culture but each tree representing a member, unique from the rest. This article helped me see that culture is actually very individualized. As a future teacher it is important to know this because you cannot assume something about an individual, or about your student based on what you believe their culture means. Each person has their very own culture and their own set of beliefs, values and norms. One comment Zamel made which was stated in the article was “teachers and researchers who see students as bound by their cultures may be trapped by their own cultural tendency to reduce, categorize and generalize”. Educators need to be careful not to make assumptions and as one of the six principles in the articles states “All humans are individuals. Teachers and researchers need to view students as individuals, not as members of a cultural group"
Sarah Dime says…• As I read the article by Atkinson I realized that there is no one correct way to define culture itself. There is no one way to identify to a specific culture either. Culture is defined as fluid and ever changing. (Zamel, 1997). This is the obvious in the United States, but as an American, how do we define the ever changing cultures of others. How do we get rid of our stereotypes or what we know little about and refrain from continuing to believe thats the only way it will ever be?... As a bilingual education major, I have spent an enormous amount of time in Little Village with Hispanic students. We are constantly talking about developing a students L1 before worrying about L2; he or she must have the foundations of learning to build upon. When I was in Chicago, I was shocked at how surprised I was to realize that these children were learning the Spanish alphabet, sounds, and phonics. I appreciated how this article emphasizes the different approaches to culture and how one can choose to identify themselves; but also that a student does not necessarily have to be of a certain something in order to learn. They are a student with a history and traditions which are not necessarily set in stone in every single family in todays world.
Joseph says…• I also agree with the post-modernist view of culture as dynamic and “anything but homogenous”. If each individual is unique, how can a group of millions of individuals be classified as homogenous? Atkinson’s point that, “The term culture is sometimes avoided by those working in this vein as one that is so encumbered and compromised as to be misleading or dangerous,” is very interesting to me. I interpret this to mean that a teacher should not central on a student’s culture but rather the student’s individual identity.• Another useful piece from this article that I will use in my classroom is the section about the dangers of making cultural assumptions. Unfortunately some teachers “rhetorically construct” the identities of their students. This means that teachers assume that certain students have certain characteristics or belong to a particular cultural group. For example, a teacher could assume that a Japanese student belongs to the Chinese culture. Stereotyping can have very serious negative consequences. Atkinson also reinforces the point that if culture is fluid, stereotypes will become old and inaccurate very quickly. According to him, the best approach is for teachers to view students as unique individuals as opposed to members of any particular cultural or social group.
David says…• In the Atkinson reading, the thing I found most interesting were the Six Principles of Culture. It definitely helped me understand culture better as a whole, and not just as a word with one standard definition. Some questions I have include: Why is it only foreign language teachers that seem to be taking on the role of teaching culture in today’s schools? What happens in TESOL when several different people from different cultures are all trying to learn English? Are they taught the same type of English or does it vary depending on what “culture” they come from?
Sara S says…• After reading this week’s article by Atkinson I take away many thoughts regarding the term culture. The one part that has stuck with me since I have read the article was in the conclusion section. Atkinson mentions that it is his belief that we can develop a “notion of culture in TESOL that takes into account the cultural in the individual, and the individual in the cultural.” However we talk about culture, whatever way we try to define the term, it is important to remember the individual. As teachers, we are dedicated to learning about each of our learners and putting together their cultural puzzle. I am beginning to think that each person has their own culture. They draw upon cultures around them and pull ideas from many different cultures to develop their own cultural identity. I am an elementary teacher so bear with me, culture is like an “onion.” Each layer is a culture that an individual prescribes to and there are many different layers that make up one person.
Moon refers to a personal anecdote…• When I read Atkinson’s article, it was very interesting. While I was reading this article, there was an argument that how the TESOL teachers need to see the students as individuals rather than cultural groups. I believe that it is important to understand the students’ cultures. I think the people act differently depend on where they grow up. I came here when I was 13 years old. I only hung out with Korean friends until I was a sophomore in high school. For a while, I was having troubles looking at elder’s eyes. The reason is that when I went to junior high school, my ESL teacher was talking to me. However, I looked down because in Korea, it is very rude to look at the elderly person’s eyes when elderly person is upset. My ESL teacher got very upset and she grabbed my face and told me to look at her eyes when she talked to me. I knew that American’s norm is different than Korean’s norm. However, because I was used to Korean norms, it was hard for me to accept American’s norm that is completely different than Korean’s norm. I was so shocked when this even happened. I was more scared to talk to white people after that. If the teacher acted differently, I wouldn’t take a long time to adjust American culture. I have so much experiences that I realized how significant it is for the teachers to know their students’ cultures.
Lyudmila says…• today each culture is a hybrid culture as the result of the cultural globalization. What used to be considered as a local or national matter is now perceived as international or global. Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian educator, suggested that the world is a global village where "cultures reposition themselves between visual and acoustic space." Ethnic reductionism which takes place not only in political rhetoric, media, and academic literature, but also happens in every day life, and confines ethnic minorities to dismissive referential images, is only a sign of narrow-mindedness and simply a pursuit for domination.
Alice says…• I have experienced life in various international and American communities, and I strongly agree that culture is always changing and difficult to capture. There are so many perspectives and nuances of culture! As Holliday, et al suggest, we must embrace a complex view of culture in which diversity is the norm (54). I believe that maintaining this view will allow us to not only develop solid relationships with students based on true understanding of their individual personalities (individual cultures!), but it will also help us avoid stereotypes that could isolate a student as “the other.” As Atkinson says, “knowing students individually also involves knowing them culturally” (643). Just this morning, I met a student at ELI who is a Brazilian of Japanese ethnicity. She was quite talkative, and I found myself surprised at her outgoing nature. Without consciously realizing it, I had stereotyped her due to her Japanese heritage and assumed that she would be quiet and reserved. (Ironically, I didn’t even consider any stereotypes associated with Brazilians!) Even though I recognize the flaws in the essentialist view of culture, I realize that this view influenced my first impressions. This experience reminded me of Atkinson’s third principle that “social group membership and identity are multiple, contradictory, and dynamic” (643).
Alice continues…• Everyone belongs to a variety of social and cultural groups, and it is impossible to pigeon-hole someone based solely on his/her membership to a single cultural group. I think that we, as both educators and learners, need to foster this idea that the concept of culture is dynamic and somewhat amorphous. That being said, I agree with Kumaravadivelu’s assertion that culture exists outside the bounds of definition; however, I also believe it still exists within the bounds of description. I think the trick is being able to describe patterns of behavior in order to talk about culture without perpetuating negative or limiting stereotypes. Believing that culture is diverse will allow us to build meaningful relationships in the classroom and take away limitations we might have due to cultural (mis)understandings.Question: All this discussion of culture got me to thinking…how muchshould we, as educators, directly engage issues of culture with ourstudents?
Two paradigmsSmall Cultures: any cohesive group with Large Cultures: Essential differencesno subordination between ethnic, international and national entitiesNon-essentialist, non-culturist EssentialistNo ONION SKIN RELATIONSHIP, No Small and subcultures are subordinate tonecessary subordination large culturesInterpretive, ongoing: a process of Normative, static: social world is divided in(re)making fixed categories“The world is made up of a vast complex “Mutually exclusive types of behaviorsof shifting, overlapping , swirling, connected with nationality”—Africancombining and splitting cultures” culture, Chinese culture…Culture is a(Holliday,2005) geographical place.
Discussion• Atkinson (1999) writes: “ all human beings exist in multiple social worlds, have multiple social allegiances, and play multiple social roles—all of which are continuously changing” (p.643)What are some of the social allegiances you bring to your profession? What small cultures do you identify? Focus on one of them and discuss what discernable set of behaviors is characteristic of this small culture.
Group Work (create your own chart based onHolliday et. al table and article on page 72-75!)Essentialist view of culture Non-essentialist view of cultureCulture as a noun: It has a specific entity. Culture as a verb: Societies displayIt’s homogeneous. complex characteristics which are hard to pin down. Culture as “unbounded, kaleidoscopic and dynamic” (Heath & Street, 2008)People in one culture essentially different Cultures flow as people intermingle.from people in another Cultures have blurred boundariesPeople belonging exclusively to one People can belong to and move throughnational/linguistic/cultural group multiplicity of cultures within and across societies.For successful communication with Understanding the complexity of who thesomeone foreign, we must first person is. Moving beyond mediaunderstand the details and stereotype of representations. Being open minded.their culture.
Discussion: Task B02.4• In your groups discuss what you think of the statements on page 74.
Positivist/Essentialist sequence• National stereotypes are acknowledged as problematic but remain as starting point.• Us-them overgeneralizations are made such as “While the west focuses more on the learning process as a means in itself, the Chinese tradition is more oriented in learning outcomes”• A sense of uncrossable boundaries: “members of different cultures have certain beliefs, values and practices which suit them”.• Cultural essentialism is not only practices by West: People from the east and the South also essentialize their own cultural identities., through the display of traditional dress, dances, rituals…tpo maintain and acquire power. “Exaggeration of Self to suit people’s perception of other can help one to gain acceptance (Holliday et. al, 2004)
How can we avoid the trap of over-generalization? ByDeconstructing images and representations andengaging in a dialogue on the critical intersections: Identity Power Agency Culture and Language Education Representation Difference
Recent examinations of culturePost-modern/post structural: Culture is no neatly packaged entities.They are NOT exclusive bodies of customs, values and thoughts. Theyare NOT perfectly shared by all who subscribe to them.Contact zone: The social spaces where cultures meet, clash, andgrapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations ofpower, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they livedout in many parts of the world today”. (Pratt, 1991, p. 34)—bordercrossing/borderlands by Andaldua.Cultures as travelling (Clifford): Unrooted, permeable, ever-developing and changing.
Subjectivity, Agency, powerSubjectivity• Various social forces and their possible implications on our identities. Personhood is fragmented and conflicting (conflicting ways of looking and being in the world)• People are NOT simply members of homogenous, unified cultural groups. They come from a particular class/ethnic/national/political/religious/sexual/educational/racial backgrounds.AgencyThe will of individuals, especially those in positions of disempowerment todecide their own life courses. The ability of individuals to resist theinfluence of dominant ideologies and discourses.PowerPower is diffused throughout the social world. The groups who have powerin the society also define and represent culture in ways that tend to benefitthem and promote as natural their own social practices.
Six principles of culture (Atkinson, 1999)1. All humans are individual2. Individuality is also cultural3. Social group membership and identity are multiple, contradictory, and dynamic.4. Social Group membership is consequential.5. Methods of studying cultural knowledge and behavior are unlikely to fit a positivist paradigm.6. Language (learning and teaching) and culture are mutually implicated, but culture is multiple and complex.What do these statements mean? What are the implications forTESOL?
Holliday et. al. book: B.0.1: Culture andcommunity in everyday life• Hannerz writes “We have an old habit of speaking about ‘cultures, the plural form, as if it were self-evident that such entities exist side by side as neat packages, each of us identified with only one of them—this is indeed a time-worn implication of at least one anthropological concept”.• Bauman also writes that people see themselves “ as members of several communities at once, each with its own culture, and that making one’s life meant ranging across them.In looking back at notes you made in identifying your small cultures,do you see any overlaps, cross-cutting allegiances or hierarchicalorders? How does your own life mean “ranging across” thesecommunities? What are the significant parts of your own “personalcultural repertoire” as in-service and pre-service language educators?
Discussion: Definitions of culture• Which, if any, of the descriptions do you feel successfully captures the complete of a partial meaning of culture? (p. 69)1) A culture is “a text the vocabulary and grammar of which its members learn” (Fay, 1996)2) “Culture is a verb” (Street, 1991)3) Culture is an “evolving connected activity, not a thing”. (Fay, 1996).4) Believing…that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs (Geertz, 1973)
Important terms and conceptsHOLLIDAY ET AL.:• Ethnic reductionism (Baumann)• Cultural essentialism• Nonessentialism• Exoticized account of a culture• Liberal multiculturalism• Small cultures and large culturesKUMARAVADIVELU, 2006 CHPATER 2• Habitus• Cultural capital• Otherization/cultural otherization• Orientalism• The principle of linguistic relativity• Whorfian hypothesis (strong vs weak version)