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Culture, Communication And Customs Of Learning


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Dr Nicola Woods of the University of Wales, Newport, presentation on the PGCert Developing Professional Practice in Higher Education in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) on 20th January 2010.

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Culture, Communication And Customs Of Learning

  1. 1. Nicola J. Woods<br />Culture, Communication & Customs of Learning<br />
  2. 2. Preliminaries<br /><ul><li>Understand the cultural conditioning of communication.
  3. 3. Appreciate how cultural differences can impact on students’ approaches to learning.
  4. 4. Use this knowledge to develop culturally appropriate learning & teaching practices</li></ul>.<br />
  5. 5. Communication in Context<br /> At the next SoE SQAEC and SET it will be necessary to consider ret. and prog. Relevant information can be found from QUERCUS and TEd Central.<br />What are the communicative expectations of the presenter/participants?<br />What can we speak about?<br />Who is allowed to speak and when?<br />Which forms of language are prohibited in this context?<br />How do routines of politeness apply in this situation?<br />Is silence appropriate during the course of this workshop?<br />
  6. 6. Dell Hymes & John Gumperz: On Communicative Competence<br /> Conventions we learn from the time we grow up and that we practise with our friends and our families…they are subconscious and thus very hard to change...We tend to keep these conventions even when we learn and use other languages<br />
  7. 7. Opening, maintaining and closing conversations<br />How are you? <br />Where are you going? <br />Have you eaten? <br />How old are you? <br /><br />Three rules (simply put):<br />Current speaker selects next speaker<br />Next speaker self selects<br />Current speaker continues speaking turn<br />
  8. 8. Deborah Tannen<br />
  9. 9. Silence in American Indian Culture<br />When is silence appropriate in L&T contexts?<br />Can silence play a role in supporting learning (if so, how)?<br />What is the dominant perception of the silent student (and why)? <br />Meeting strangers<br />Courting couples<br />Being with people who are sad<br />Basso (1997): Wisdom Sits in Places<br />
  10. 10. Communication & Customs of Learning<br />Topic of conversation<br />Giving and receiving compliments<br />Questions and invitations<br />Terms of address<br />
  11. 11. Topic of conversation<br />Which topics of conversation are appropriate for the family dinner table? Are some topics safe while others taboo? Are taboo topics also prohibited in other contexts?<br />
  12. 12. What is not said….<br />A: Mm, but you need to tell me, is there anything I need to know?<br />B: Well, I haven’t lived as a hermit……<br />
  13. 13. Taboo topics<br />In the Islamic culture, it is not acceptable to talk openly about sex or any other topic related to the subject<br />I will never use words like condom, kissing, homosexual, heterosexual because I do not feel easy when I use words as such <br />I can’t even look at my teacher’s face if he reads words like these written by myself…I feel shy because I was raised by my parents who used to tell me that such words aren’t good to be used or said by girls <br />Khuwaileh (2000)<br />
  14. 14. Compliments<br /> What are the communicative routines for <br /> giving and receiving compliments.? How does the giving and receiving of compliments reflect social/cultural roles and relationships? Consider the following compliments:<br />This is an excellent piece of work<br />I like your dress/suit<br />That meal was delicious<br />You’ve got beautiful eyes.<br />
  15. 15. You’ve got beautiful eyes!<br />Male ITAs<br />She likes the student’s eyes, that’s all. She thinks the student has beautiful eyes. What’s the problem? (Spanish Speaker)<br />In my country, if a teacher says this to me, I will thank her about this feeling (Arabic Speaker)<br />Male (American) UGs<br />A little too personal. Sounds like a bad bar pick-up line . Very inappropriate.<br />The TA seems sexually interested. I would thank her and explain that I have a girl friend.<br />This depends on what type of class the TA teaches. If it is an English or Philosophy class, I wouldn’t be taken aback. If it was a science or math class, I would feel the comments were an obvious pick up line…..<br />Tyler and Boxer (1996)<br />
  16. 16. Questions and Invitations<br />What are the communicative routines for asking and responding to questions and invitations? For example:<br />How old are you?<br />Would you like to come to my party?<br />Would you like some more dessert?<br />
  17. 17. Khuwaileh (2000): Jordanian students dislike using strong expressions of certainty <br />MoboGao (1998): Chinese students find it impolite to go directly to an answer but rather prefer to set the background with contextual information.<br />
  18. 18. Terms of address<br />Dad<br />Darling<br />Which communicative routines are used for addressing others? How do these terms reflect role relations? For example:<br />Honorary/professional names<br />Kinship terms<br />Title plus surname<br />First name<br />Nickname<br />Terms of endearment<br />Professor<br />Ms<br />Pete<br />
  19. 19. Psaltou-Joycey (2008) :<br /> In learning contexts:<br /> “students from different countries utilize different strategies and prioritise common strategies differently”<br />
  20. 20. Honey & Mumford 1982<br />Activitists (Do) <br />Open minded, enthusiastic, flexible <br />Act first, consider consequences later <br />Reflectors (Review)<br />Stand back and observe <br />Collect and analyze data about experience and events, slow to reach conclusions <br />Theorists (Conclude)<br />Think through problems in a logical manner, value rationality and objectivity <br />Disciplined, aiming to fit things into rational order <br />Pragmatists (Plan)<br />Keen to put ideas, theories and techniques into practice <br />Act quickly and confidently on ideas, gets straight to the point<br />
  21. 21. Views and Strategies<br />
  22. 22.
  23. 23. By cancelling all but the dominant literacy from the university curriculum, a student’s capacity to contribute to the class from their own cultural experience is greatly diminished, as are their learning opportunities <br />MacKinnon et al 2003<br />
  24. 24. Green 2007:<br />In China…we start at one point and we spread out wide… we look at one point, but from many, all kinds of different aspects…social moral and all of the aspects that you can think of…In Europe and Australia this doesn’t make sense. Here it’s just really direct…you go straight forward…If I write the Chinese way, my lecturer would be confused.<br />
  25. 25. Communicating and Learning through Writing<br />What structure/style is most valued in student writing?<br />Are students allowed to voice their own opinions?<br />What type of ‘evidence’ is considered most appropriate?<br />What scope is there for students to draw on their own experience?<br />Should the use of 1st person be prohibited/allowed/encouraged?<br />
  26. 26. A voice of my own….<br /><ul><li>I’m always fearful, to be honest with you, of putting in anything of my own opinion
  27. 27. You find that you spend hours looking for the quote… common sense would tell you it was this… but then because you are so worried, you have to spend the next five hours looking for the quote that says that to back you up
  28. 28. It was “ok you need to write this in the third person context [sic]” but a lot of people went away from that having to ask what third person context is…</li></li></ul><li>R: I find it difficult giving my own opinion using the style of writing that they want …. For me if I was to write an essay or a report, then I’d like to think I’m quite flamboyant in the way I write and what I say ……. and I think if I was to write an essay or report in the way I wanted it to, it would be quite captivating and you’d want to read the report, but the way that we have been taught, or told rather, to write, I read it and then I think, well how’s yours Bryn, I’ll have a look a Bryn’s and I think, practically the same, have a look at Dawn’s, its’ the same. Everything is the same. There is no individuality in the way we can write.<br />C: Academic writing tends to have such a disciplined style that you have to follow, that you all kind of end up arguing the same case because you’re using the same books on your bibliography, similar quotes to back up your own opinions cause you’re quite limited with how far you can go with it.<br />R: I feel sorry for the people who are ****reading it, mind. Halfway through you think, **** shall I put Country File on or something. Everything is the same.<br />D: That could be what happened with mine then, perhaps they dozed off.<br />
  29. 29. Conclusion<br /> History, worldview, beliefs, values, religions, and social organization may all be reflected through different languages and linguistic varieties in a culture (Scollon and Scollon2 2001).<br />
  30. 30. Selected References<br /> <br />Gao, Mobo C F (1998) Influence of Native Culture and Language on Intercultureal Communication: the Case of PRC Student Immigrants in Australia Symposium of Intercultural Communication, The Department of Linguisitics, Gothenburg <br />Hymes, D.H. (1971). On communicative competence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press<br />Kennedy, P. (2002) Learning Cultures and learning styles: myth-understandings about adult (Hong<br />Kong) Chinese Learners. International Journal of Lifelong Learning, 21(5): 430-45.<br />MacKinnon, D. and Manathunga, C. (2003) Going global with assessment: what to do when the<br />dominant culture&apos;s literacy drives assessment. Higher Education Research and Development, 22 (2):<br />131-144.<br />Nazarea, V. (2006) Local knowledge and memory in biodiversity conservation. Annual Review of<br />Anthropology 35:317-335.<br />Tyler, Andrea and Diana Boxer (1996) Sexual Harrassment? Cross-cultural/cross-linguistic Perspectives. Discourse and Society 7: 107-133.<br />