Site Search:
 
TEFL International Supports Dave's ESL Cafe
TEFL Courses, TESOL Course, English Teaching Jobs - TEFL International
Job Discussion Forums Forum Index Job Discussion Forums
"The Internet's Meeting Place for ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World!"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Teaching English in KSA sans Western cultural components
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Saudi Arabia
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4324
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:15 am    Post subject: Teaching English in KSA sans Western cultural components Reply with quote

Teach us English but without its cultural values
Dr. Khalid Al-Seghayer, Saudi Gazette Commentary | Jan 29, 2013
Source: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20130129151084

Recently, some local Arabic newspapers reported that some Saudi families had registered strong complaints about a Saudi university’s including inappropriate pictures and the components of Western culture in selected English textbooks. This, again, revives the controversial issue of teaching the English language along with or without the English culture in which it operates. As a result, educational stakeholders who are responsible for English programs, especially in the higher education sector, mandate that international publishing companies produce what are called Middle Eastern English textbook versions for use in the Kingdom.

The view of those who call for not incorporating cultural elements in the teaching of English is that teaching cultural values is a form of cultural invasion or, more accurately, a form of linguistic globalization that emanates from cultural globalization. These individuals feel that teaching Western values to Saudi students will result in eroding their identity. Those opposed to the teaching of English culture instead call for including only Islamic and local cultural values in textbooks used by English programs in the Kingdom. In examining this highly sensitive linguistic topic, two questions need to be asked: What is so significant about teaching culture, and why is culture such an important element to consider in the foreign language classroom?

Let us first state what most language educators believe and then answer the aforementioned questions. It appears that culture, as an ingrained set of behaviors and modes of perception, is highly important in foreign language learning. Language is a part of culture, and culture is a part of language; the two are intricately interwoven so that one cannot separate the two without losing the significance of either language or culture.

The world in which we live requires people who can communicate effectively in at least one other language and who have related cultural insights and understanding. This cannot take place unless the culture of the language being taught is fully integrated in the curriculum in a systematically planned way.

Without cultural insight and skill, even fluent speakers can seriously misinterpret messages they have read, and the messages they intend to communicate can be misunderstood. This is because students do not fully comprehend the essential framework in which language functions, namely culture; as a result, cultural competence should be encouraged at all stages. Related to this point is that learning English without its culture often results in learning meaningless linguistic symbols, and in using English inappropriately or in the wrong cultural context.

Another aspect that makes teaching culture a vital element in the foreign language setting is the attitude of students toward the culture of the target language. The success of students in acquiring a foreign language is related to how they view the culture of the language they are learning. Students who have positive attitudes are more highly motivated, which strengthens the likelihood that a variety of desired behaviors will emerge, such as greater class participation, continuation of language study, and better retention of language skills. Attitudes affect not only students’ motivation to learn the language but also their willingness to learn about and to participate in acculturation. The degree of acculturation determines the competence of language learners, and without acculturation, language competence will be incomplete. Consequently, teaching culture helps students to shape their subjectivities, enhance their social experiences, challenge their cultural assumptions, and alter their modes of thinking.

Furthermore, language and culture are connected in various ways. Language acquisition does not follow a universal linguistic sequence but rather differs across cultures. The process of assimilation into society involves the exchange of language in particular social situations: The native learner, in addition to learning the language, acquires linguistic patterns in his or her culture. Therefore, language and culture cannot be separated. Foreign language teaching should work toward language-in-culture and culture-in language teaching rather than seeking ways of teaching culture as a separate skill. Language and culture should be seen as constituting a single domain of experience. If we put aside the above technical and linguistic matters to consider the expected negative consequences of allowing thousands of Saudis to study English in its natural context, we would see no detrimental effect on their identities or on their own cultural values and traditions. Past Saudi English learners are now assuming leading positions in the country, and no one can claim that being exposed to Western culture while studying English instilled in them undesirable values that are diametrically opposed to Saudi Arabia’s deeply rooted cultural features. Objectively speaking, these Saudi English language learners often direct our attention to some aspects of Western cultural values that we should adopt and, at the same time, warn us against accepting those values that seem harmful. This view is in line with several cultural studies which have found that teaching the cultural values of the learned target language does not necessarily lead language learners to adopt the cultural values associated with that language.

Again, teaching English cultural values merely raises the English language learners’ awareness of the culture’s social practices so that they can behave accordingly when relevant sociolinguistic situations occur. The practice of teaching English along with its culture is expected to widen the horizons of English language learners by exposing them to a new culture. This allows them to be more informed, in a better position to compare and contrast their own cultural values with those of others, and able to teach their own cultural values to others and defend them whenever needed.

Teaching English along with its culture is in line with the announced goals of teaching English to Saudi students, i.e., to prepare Saudi citizens to be intercultural speakers or cross-cultural literates who are knowledgeable of different cultural practices and world views. Therefore, the call to remove all cultural references from the English language textbooks of international publishing companies, the call to teach English in isolation from its culture, and the call to include only local cultural references while teaching English are all unwise and unreasonable. In fact, making such calls indicates a lack of knowledge about what it takes to learn English as a foreign language as well as a lack of awareness about the close intertwined relationship between language and culture along with the negative effects of teaching English without its natural cultural context.

(End of commentary)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12305
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KFUPM PYP experienced these issues after introducing totally inappropriate material produced by RMIT of Melbourne. Texts about dating andf all the rest osf that stuff.

Our friends from Melbouirne have since been sent on their way, but the search for suitable materials has not been resolved !
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16066
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a bit of a surprise. A support for the inevitability of culture being included in a language. After all, it would be very difficult to learn Arabic without some understanding of Islam.

That said, I did prefer texts that were written for the Middle East market that at least stripped out dating, bikinis, booze parties, and pork chops. It wasn't a huge problem in the rest of the Gulf and I normally made it a joke and the students accepted it as such. Not sure how that flies in Saudi though. I was also known to skip whole chapters if they were too difficult to explain culturally.

VS
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12305
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It just takes a complaint from one student or parent to cause trouble. Could be something trivial like a picture showing a church.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
CamTam



Joined: 05 Jan 2012
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:35 pm    Post subject: sans culture Reply with quote

In our school, we had certain pages that were meant to be avoided and we were given syllabi that instructed lecturers to replace certain words with more "culturally sensitive" material.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
jaffa



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 346

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There used to be people employed to black out any offensive texts or pictures. But I teach from Headway and there are girls in bikinis and other suggestive poses. Absolutely disgraceful!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16066
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Headway was a constant problem all over the Gulf. I could never understand why any organizations used it. Ugh... I heard that they developed a Middle East version, but I expect it was the same awful format.

VS
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
bulgogiboy



Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 787

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really didn't feel like I had to tip toe around the more controversial aspects of my culture. In fact, I found most young Saudi lads were very interested in western culture, especially Anglo-American pop culture. They all seemed to know and love music by Eminem, Lady Gaga, 50 Cent,etc. If I suggested watching an ESL learning video on Youtube, on the smartboard, they would always ask to watch a western music video instead. Also, a large percentage of my Saudi students displayed a lot of enthusiasm for starting discussions on subjects like drinking whisky, dating girls (replace the word 'dating' with a stronger gerund), smoking certain substances, etc. For all their faults, I didn't find male Saudi college students to be uptight or prone to 'righteous indignation' at all.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
cmp45



Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 1377
Location: KSA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bulgogiboy wrote:
I really didn't feel like I had to tip toe around the more controversial aspects of my culture. In fact, I found most young Saudi lads were very interested in western culture, especially Anglo-American pop culture. They all seemed to know and love music by Eminem, Lady Gaga, 50 Cent,etc. If I suggested watching an ESL learning video on Youtube, on the smartboard, they would always ask to watch a western music video instead. Also, a large percentage of my Saudi students displayed a lot of enthusiasm for starting discussions on subjects like drinking whisky, dating girls (replace the word 'dating' with a stronger gerund), smoking certain substances, etc. For all their faults, I didn't find male Saudi college students to be uptight or prone to 'righteous indignation' at all.


Just because students show an interest in the seedier side of western culture doesn't mean they should discuss this crap in the classroom. I never talked with my teacher about this stuff in school. Let them find out about it on their own if they must know. Apparently, from what you say...they already know more than enough...sounds more like students engaging in foolish bravado than anything else. No need to be encouraging it in the classroom. Besides...these young Saudi students aren't running the show...best to avoid the three no nos...sex, religion and politics, etc,...sex, booze and drugs Rolling Eyes good grief man! Next you'll be showing pornography to round it off Razz BTW: Allowing such conversations to occur in your class reveals more about 'where your head is at' than the students.


Last edited by cmp45 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:35 pm; edited 5 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12751
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear bulgogiboy,

All it takes is one "religious" type in your class - even one with not much wasta - to take (or feign) offense to the administration and a teacher can find himself in deep do-do. Very Happy

Regards,
John
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
cmp45



Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 1377
Location: KSA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnslat wrote:
Dear bulgogiboy,

All it takes is one "religious" type in your class - even one with not much wasta - to take (or feign) offense to the administration and a teacher can find himself in deep do-do. Very Happy

Regards,
John


But John the issue is more than just following the rules of the land/ school...would you condone this type of conversation with students in a formal class setting? Even if such topics were allowed. By the way bulgogiboy describes it ...the conversation was neither controlled or discussed in an academic manner for example: debating the possible positive???- negative repercussions of indulging in such risky behavior Rolling Eyes Especially disconcerting are the disrespectful and inappropriate sexist remarks regarding women ...more like pals shooting the breeze at a house party, than in a proper classroom. Lacking in structure or any sort of meaningful learning outcome as a formal topic for discussion. More like frittering away time in class than any meaningful learning. Something not right with this IMHO.


Last edited by cmp45 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12751
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear cmp45,

Whereas you supplied the "professional" reason, I gave what may be a more highly-motivating one: fear Very Happy

Regards,
John
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
bulgogiboy



Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 787

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cmp45 wrote:
johnslat wrote:
Dear bulgogiboy,

All it takes is one "religious" type in your class - even one with not much wasta - to take (or feign) offense to the administration and a teacher can find himself in deep do-do. Very Happy

Regards,
John


But John the issue is more than just following the rules of the land/ school...would you condone this type of conversation with students in a formal class setting? Even if such topics were allowed. By the way bulgogiboy describes it ...the conversation was neither controlled or discussed in an academic manner for example: debating the possible positive???- negative repercussions of indulging in such risky behavior Rolling Eyes Especially disconcerting are the disrespectful and inappropriate sexist remarks regarding women ...more like pals shooting the breeze at a house party, than in a proper classroom. Lacking in structure or any sort of meaningful learning outcome as a formal topic for discussion. More like frittering away time in class than any meaningful learning. Something not right with this IMHO.


Yikes! Do we know each other CMP45?? Have we met?? You don't rush to judge people much, do you? For your information, I don't allow students to indulge themselves in lurid conversation topics either, whether in the ME or in any other region, as I feel it's disrespectful to both myself and the other students. I said they were keen to start conversations on controversial topics. I didn't say I engaged them in these topics, did I? MY point was that, in my experience, my students were far from offended by things from the textbook such as women in swimming costumes or pictures of glasses of wine, etc. Do we understand each other now?? Can you get down off your high horse now, please? Yeesh, I'll be needing asbestos underpants with all these flames being hurled at me!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4324
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

veiledsentiments wrote:
Headway was a constant problem all over the Gulf. I could never understand why any organizations used it. Ugh... I heard that they developed a Middle East version, but I expect it was the same awful format.

Ugh is right. The Saudi version of Headway doesn't even rate as mediocre---not much on substance and yes, the format fails to impress. Moreover, the versions I've seen here in the Kingdom are very male oriented; the publisher obviously didn't consider the female students, especially in the context of Saudi culture. For instance, there are plenty of readings and listening pieces about adventurous world travel, male sports stars, and race car driving or driving in general. And this is for a country where women aren't allowed to drive nor are they able to travel without the permission and company of a close male relative. Duh. Plus, the majority of the photos and images in the books are of men and boys, including some depicting dads and sons together but without mom. Photos of women (mostly head shots) seem to pop up a dozen or so times. (In keeping with the culture, all the women, including young girls, are wearing headscarves or hats pulled down over their ears.) Anyway, I suspect universities use these coursebooks because of the Oxford name.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
jaffa



Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 346

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's not what I have. It's the standard book, used worldwide and the students like it, especially the blonde chick in the accompanying video. Compared to the antiquated, banal dross that universities here use, I think it's fine.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Saudi Arabia All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Contact Dave's ESL Cafe
Copyright © 2011 Dave Sperling. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Road2Spain - TEFL and Spanish with one year student visa
EBC