Outsiders In A Land Of In Groups

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Intercultural Competence in China

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Outsiders In A Land Of In Groups

  1. 1. Outsiders <br />in a Land of In-Groups: <br />Intercultural Competence<br /> in China<br />中国<br />Tasha Bleistein and Joni Strohm<br />
  2. 2. Introduction<br />Joni Strohm<br />20 years in China (universities in Beijing, Siping, Changchun, Qufu, Rizhao)<br />Teacher, mentor, supervisor, liaison<br />MED/MA Intercultural Studies<br />Tasha Bleistein<br />9 years at Chinese colleges and universities <br />MA TESOL and Community College Adjunct <br />Working on PhD in Intercultural Education <br />
  3. 3. Intercultural Communication<br />Personal courses of study and interest<br />Teaching Intercultural Communication courses to students in China<br />Observations of foreign teachers becoming “acceptable” outsiders<br />Major component in collaborating with Chinese colleagues and university leadership.<br />
  4. 4. Hofstede, Geert. (2008)<br />
  5. 5. China as “land of in-groups”<br />Individualists are those who “emphasize the importance of individual identity over group identity” (Ting-Toomey, 2007, p. 376), while collectivists value the “we” identity more than the “I” identity. <br />As foreign teachers we can never become “insiders” yet strive to be “acceptable” outsiders.<br />
  6. 6. As foreign teachers, relationships include-<br />student<br />colleagues<br />leaders in high-power distance cultures<br />social and service contacts<br />
  7. 7. Relationships<br />1) Importance of guanxi<br />关系[guānxì] connections; relations; relationship; terms家庭关系 familyconnections社会关系 socialconnections<br /> - Collins Chinese-English Dictionary<br />Guanxi involves the personalized networks of influence, and is a foundational principle of Chinese society. In Western media, the pinyin of this Chinese word is becoming more widely used instead of the two common translations—"connections" and "relationships” due to complex meaning<br />
  8. 8. Closely related concepts include that of ganqing, a measure which reflects the depth of feeling within an interpersonal relationship, renqing, the moral obligation to maintain the relationship, and the idea of "face", meaning social status, propriety, prestige, or more realistically a combination of all three.<br />
  9. 9. At its most basic, guanxi describes a personal connection between two people in which one is able to prevail upon another to perform a favor or service, or be prevailed upon. The two people need not be of equal social status. Guanxi can also be used to describe a network of contacts, which an individual can call upon when something needs to be done, and through which he or she can exert influence on behalf of another. <br />
  10. 10. student relationships<br /><ul><li>Excellent teaching
  11. 11. Provide resources
  12. 12. Extra-curricular </li></ul> opportunities<br /><ul><li>Accept role as </li></ul> “second parent”<br />
  13. 13. colleague relationships<br /><ul><li> Teacher development
  14. 14. Share resources
  15. 15. Provide English practice
  16. 16. Organize social times</li></ul>Involvement in a community of pedagogical discourse is more than a voluntary option for individuals who seek support and opportunities for growth. It is a professional obligation that educational institutions should expect of those who teach—for the privatization of teaching not only keeps individuals from growing in their craft but fosters institutional incompetence as well. (Palmer, 2007, p. 148)<br />
  17. 17. appropriate networking and relationships with leaders in high-power distance cultures<br /><ul><li> Longevity
  18. 18. Giving professional face
  19. 19. Genuine gratitude</li></li></ul><li>appropriate networking in community<br /><ul><li>Officialdom
  20. 20. Household
  21. 21. Academics
  22. 22. Neighborhood
  23. 23. Tourism</li></li></ul><li>Teaching: Chinese Teachers & Learners <br />Chinese learners tend to:<br />Be used to rote learning<br />Depend on the teacher or textbook for knowledge<br />填鸭式—Stuff the duck/Spoon-feed methodology<br />Chinese concepts of teachers<br />Authoritarian, but with heart<br />Critical so that students will improve<br />Knowledgeable and not to be questioned<br />
  24. 24. Pedagogical Differences<br />周,王 & 王 (2004) outlined the differences between Chinese teachers and foreign teachers.<br />Foreign teachers focus on Communicative Language Teaching, while Chinese teachers stress learning through memorization.<br />Foreign teachers disregard textbooks, believing that they inadequately cover materials and desiring to freely design their own curriculum. Chinese teachers see the textbook as a rich source of knowledge.<br />Foreign teachers do not have a well-developed curriculum and view their schedule as flexible, whereas Chinese teachers have a detailed and well-planned semester plan.<br />
  25. 25. Pedagogical Differences<br />Foreign teachers believe that homework and participation are as important as exam results. Their exams tend to focus on creativity and language usage. Chinese focus on exams and expect students to memorize textbooks.<br />Foreign teachers have more egalitarian view of students and teachers; Chinese teachers view the teacher as the authority or sage.<br />Foreign teachers are more casual and expressive in the classroom. Chinese teachers tend to dress and act more formally, rarely leaving the podium.<br />
  26. 26. Teaching: Teacher Beliefs<br />I am a teacher of two years' experience. For more than ten years I was exposed to a teacher-centered formula. I was brainwashed to believe that a good teacher is one who can make use of every minute of the class to explain to the students every important language-point. I had thought teacher should be a skilful speaker, s/he can make students into good listeners, so they could do what I said, in order to learn what I knew. In order to help students learn well the correct answers are considered very important. I did the very job just like Diane Larsen-Freeman (2003) said in her book: "If students make errors or do not know an answer, the teacher supplies them with the correct answer." I kept this thought and behaviour as my teaching belief till I myself became a teacher, but in putting the belief into practice, I found it didn't work well. After each class, I was tired out. And my students were, no better than I was. Till that time teaching methods were some vague and distant concepts for me. <br />
  27. 27. Teaching: Foreign Teachers’ Beliefs<br />Western educators who teach in China often view Chinese learners as “lazy, not knowing how to think, having only short term goals and poor time management skills, wanting to be spoon-fed, needing too much structure, and generally not wanting to take responsibility for learning” (PKW, p. 250). <br />
  28. 28. Teaching: Foreign Teachers<br />Rao (2008) listed 3 basic problems with foreign teachers in China.<br />Foreign teachers are unaware of Chinese students’ linguistic problems.<br />Teaching and learning styles do not match—foreign teachers use “western” ways which are difficult for Chinese students to accept.<br />Foreign teachers do not understand Chinese culture, especially the educational system or culture in China.<br />
  29. 29. Case Study<br />Both deans said that cultural conflict was the biggest problem foreign teachers faced. Dean Qiao expected that foreign teachers were trained by their organization in how to understand Chinese culture and deal with cultural conflict. Equally as interesting was the response that new foreign teachers gave when asked what cultural problems they faced in the classroom. They talked about their problems in learning how to live in China or how students did not understand them, but could not identify any specific cultural problems. What struck me, as the interviewer, was that their answers revealed deep culture shock: frustration, judgment (one teacher said the American system was clearly superior to the Chinese system.), confusion, anger, etc. <br />
  30. 30. Suggestions<br />Rao’s (2008) suggestions for foreign teachers:<br />Teachers should not have the culturally imperialistic attitude that they are there to uplift the Chinese people or culture.<br />Teachers should accept the academic culture in China and adapt their teaching accordingly.<br />Teachers should work to “bridge the gap” between western teaching methods and Chinese learning styles.<br />
  31. 31. Teaching: Suggestions<br />Cortazzi and Jin (1996) summarize the middle way as “co-operating…with an attitude of being willing to learn, understand and appreciate the other’s culture without loss of their own cultural status, role or identity. It would attempt to raise conscious awareness of differences in cultures of learning, making them explicit so that teachers and students would articulate their expectations of each other.” (p. 201)<br />Lead “students systematically through a clear set of tasks, high in structure and directed toward examination, …provid[ing] feedback that is specific and critical,…[and being] concerned about more than students’ academic success” (Pratt, et al, p. 248). <br />
  32. 32. Suggestions<br />Continue to study and learn about Chinese culture. Be mindful of judgments.<br />Accept a culturally appropriate role with school leaders and colleagues<br />Find cultural informants<br />Conduct research or cooperate with Chinese colleagues<br />Continue to work to develop professionally. <br />Develop strong professional relationships with colleagues, observe classes, read books on professional development, join professional teaching organizations, etc. <br />
  33. 33. Suggestions<br />Dress and act like a professional (arriving to class early, being well-prepared, being strict when there are discipline problems, being available when students have questions and finding answers when they do not know the answers, demonstrating that they are knowledgeable in their field, being objective in their assessment, etc.). <br />
  34. 34. Enculturation<br />Noun: the process whereby individuals learn their group's culture, through experience, observation, and instruction.<br />Origin: 1945–50; en-1 + (ac)culturation<br />Dictionary.com UnabridgedBased on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010. <br />
  35. 35. Culture as palace or prison…<br />…our culture serves us well when it is the only culture in focus. In fact, it is a palace when there are no other contesting voices around us, when we can live fairly comfortable, ordered lives in the context of our own cultural system. However, when we are pushed into relationships that are outside the boundaries of our culture, that culture becomes a prison to us. We are blind to other ways of seeing and doing things, and we assume that our way is the only way that is appropriate. (Lingenfelter & Lingenfelter, 2003, p. 20)<br />
  36. 36. Ellen J. Langer has done extensive research at Harvard University regarding the concept of mindfulness. She has published two books on the topic: Mindfulness and The Power of Mindful Learning.<br /> Mindfulness, according to Langer (1997), involves: “the continuous creation of new categories; openness to new information; and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective. <br />
  37. 37. b.Langer stressed the need for conscious awareness of choices, beliefs and behaviors if change was going to be possible. Therefore individuals must be aware of possibilities in any given situation and not too narrowly assess a situation using ingrained schemata. Langer referred to this concept as sideways learning. <br />
  38. 38. 1. Sideways learning is characterized by “(1) openness to novelty; (2) alertness to distinction; (3) sensitivity to different contexts; (4) implicit, if not explicit, awareness of multiple perspectives; and (5) orientation in the present” (Langer, 1997, p. 23). <br /> 2. Langer & Moldoveanu (2000) outlined the need for mindful listening if communication is going to be successful. Mindful listening is “listening that is unencumbered by preexisting categories that constrain the attention of the listener to a pre-specified set of characteristics of the other” (p. 138). <br /> 3. While tolerance for ambiguity and openness to alternate realities is more common in other cultures, the Western academic world is characterized by an empiricist-positivist worldview that does not encourage ambiguity and uncertainty. <br /> 4. Openness & Flexibility: “Openness, and the related concept of flexibility, refers to a willingness to suspend judgment regarding another group’s communication habits or practices. This implies a flexible attitude toward change and diverse viewpoints. Openness and flexibility are the antithesis of ethnocentrism and are based on the assumption that there is more than one way to reach our goals<br />
  39. 39. Benefits of Language and Culture Learning<br />Empathy and effectiveness as a language teacher<br />Culture shock and preserving a good attitude toward the host culture<br />Reconciliation through building relationships<br /> (Snow 2001, pp 46-63)<br />
  40. 40. Empathy and effectiveness as a language teacher<br /><ul><li> Demonstrating respect for </li></ul> students’ mother tongue<br /><ul><li> Relating to struggles of </li></ul> learning another <br /> language, often better <br /> understandingof first language.<br />"A man who does not know foreign language is ignorant of his own.” <br /> --  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe<br />
  41. 41. Culture shock and preserving a good attitude toward the host culture<br />Find cultural informants to help you process (these could be Chinese or foreigners with more experience and insight) and people who hold you accountable when you begin to form habits of speaking negatively about the host culture, retreating from the culture, or exhibiting other symptoms of culture shock. <br />
  42. 42. Reconciliation through building relationships<br />
  43. 43. Media<br />Pop culture<br />Cultural informants<br />Participation/interaction<br />Cultural Learning<br />
  44. 44. http://chinadigitaltimes.net/<br />http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/<br />www.zgbriefs.com<br />Media<br />Media<br /><ul><li>http://chinadigitaltimes.net/
  45. 45. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/
  46. 46. www.zgbriefs.com</li></li></ul><li>http://www.chinasmack.com<br />Pop culture<br />chinaSMACK is a daily-updated collection of translated internet content from the Chinese-language internet. These latest stories, pictures, videos, and topics have become very popular, spreading across China’s major BBS forums, social networking websites, or through email forwards sent between normal Chinese people everyday.<br />“If humans and their cultures are to survive they must adjust to the constantly changing environments.” (Naylor, 1996, p. 37)<br />
  47. 47. Cultural informants<br />George (1995) observed as she analyzed data from Fulbright Scholars who taught around the world.<br />“For most Americans teaching in a host country, colleagues and students become the best ‘guides’ to the workplace and the most useful ‘informants’ on the culture. Indeed, these relationships become the small keyholes through which American professors witness other ways of working, thinking, and being.” (p. 95)<br />
  48. 48. Participation/interaction<br />
  49. 49. Human Concerns<br />School choice<br />For-profit, private, etc. <br />Teacher’s Colleges<br />Our experiences<br />Service opportunities<br />Volunteering<br />Sponsorships or scholarships<br />Cooperative professional development <br />
  50. 50. Human Concerns<br />Critical pedagogy (CP)<br />CP examines and challenges the role that schooling plays in political and cultural life. Schools are viewed as places where certain groups may be favored or as places of empowerment. Followers of CP hope for the latter.<br />Be an acceptable outsider: China is a country of paradoxes and this is one of the many. Criticism of the individual is a way of encouraging personal growth and excellence, but criticism of the collective whole is not allowed, especially by an outsider.<br />A socio-political movement in the educational system or society is very unlikely to be foreign led in China and will alienate many students and colleagues. <br />
  51. 51. Xining Group<br /> A colleague of mine really wanted to attend TESOL conferences and publish articles but she felt constrained by the reactions she would receive from her colleagues for "trying to look better than them".  As a professional teacher I know from experience that without the encouragement of colleagues and access to professional articles, etc. our teaching can become dull and stagnant.  After sharing this with my friends, we  developed the idea to begin the Teachers' Forum "To Create a Supportive Community for Professional Development and Collaboration between Chinese and Foreign teachers"  We would invite our colleagues (high school and university English teachers) who want to use English as a medium to discuss teaching ideas, share resources and look for ways to encourage each other and develop professionally.  <br />
  52. 52. Question & Answer time<br />Any questions or comments?<br />Contact info:<br />joni.strohm@elic.org , tbleistein@hotmail.com<br />PowerPoint available from www.slideshare.net<br />Thank you!<br />
  53. 53. References<br />Cortazzi, Martin, & Jin, Lixian. (1996). Cultures of learning: Language classrooms in China. In Hywel Coleman (Ed.), Society and the language classroom (pp. 169-205). NY: CUP.<br />Dodd, Carley H. (2007) Intercultural Readiness Assessment for Pre-departure Candidates,<br />http://www.uri.edu/iaics/content/2007v16n2/01%20Carley%20H.%20Dodd.pdf<br /> <br />Elmer, Dwayne. (2002). Cross-cultural connections: Stepping out and fitting in around the world. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.<br /> <br />Freire, Paulo. (2002). Pedagogy of the oppressed. NY, NY: The Continuum International <br /> Publishing Group, Inc. <br /> <br />George, P. G. (1995). College teaching abroad: A handbook of strategies for successful cross-cultural exchanges. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. <br /> <br />Hall, Edward T. (1981). Beyond culture. NY: Doubleday.<br /> <br /> <br />
  54. 54. Hofstede, Geert. (2008). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations (2nd Edition). Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. <br />Hu, Wenzhong & Grove, Cornelius. (1999). Encountering the Chinese: A guide for Americans (2nd Edition). Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, Inc.<br /> <br />Ishii, Satoshi, Klopf, Donald, & Cooke, Peggy. (2007). Our locus in the universe: Worldview and intercultural communication. In Samovar, Larry A. & Porter, Richard E. (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (29-36). Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign <br /> Language Education Press. <br /> <br />Johnston, Bill. (2003). Values in English language teaching. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.<br /> <br />Langer, Ellen J. (1997). The power of mindful learning. Reading, Massachusetts: Perseus<br /> Books.<br /> <br />Langer, Ellen J. & Moldoveanu, Mihnea. (2000). The construct of mindfulness. Journal of <br /> Social Issues, 56(1), 1-9.<br /> <br /> <br />
  55. 55. Li, Lanqing. (2004). Education for 1.3 billion: On 10 years of educational reform and development. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.<br /> <br />Naylor, Larry A. (1996). Culture and change: An introduction. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin <br /> & Garvey. <br /> <br />Nisbett, Richard E. (2003). The geography of thought: How Asians and Westerners think <br /> differently…and why. New York: Free Press.<br /> <br />Palmer, Parker J. (2007). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life (10th Anniversary Edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.<br />Pratt, Daniel D., Kelly, Mavis, & Wong, Winnie S. S. (1999). Chinese conceptions of <br /> effective teaching’ in Hong Kong: Towards culturally sensitive evaluation in teaching. <br /> International Journal of Lifelong Education 18(4), 241-258.<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
  56. 56. Rao, Zhenhui. (2008) Reflecting on native-English-speaking teachers in China. Essential Teacher 5(1), pp. 23-25.<br />Samovar, Larry A. & Porter, Richard E. (Eds.). (2007). Intercultural communication: A reader. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.<br /> <br />Samovar, Larry A., Porter, Richard E., & Stefani, Lisa A. (1998). Communication between cultures (3rd Edition). Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching & Research Press. <br />Snow, Donald B. (2004). Encounters with Westerners: Improving skills in English and intercultural communication (Teacher version). Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language and Teaching Press.<br />  <br /> <br /> <br />
  57. 57. Yan, Yunxiang. (2002). Managed globalization: State power and cultural transition in China.<br /> In Peter L. Berger & Samuel L Huntington’s Many globalizations: Cultural diversity <br /> in the contemporary world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.<br /> <br />Zhou, Yuzhong, Wang, Hui, & Wang, Yiwen (2004). 外教与中国师生在外语教学有关问题上的分歧探析. 外语教学, 2004年11月.<br />

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