Site Search:
 

Banner

Teacher Discussion Forums Forum Index Teacher 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 

Is there room for Cultural Literacy in our teaching methods?

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Teacher Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Adult Education
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Rp



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 50
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:23 pm    Post subject: Is there room for Cultural Literacy in our teaching methods? Reply with quote

Hello all: I am currently working on my Masters in Adult Education, and my focus is Critical ESL Instruction. One of the issues we deal with in ESL is boosting up the literacy levels of our students.

In my research, I came across the work of E. D. Hirsch. Hirsch's focus is on increasing the literacy levels of U.S. children and, more specifically, what he thinks is the root cause for such low scores ... something he call Cultural Literacy. this is the gap between what the national literate society knows and that of the current generation ... expressed another way, a gap in cultural literacy exists when Generation A is shocked that Generation B does not know something that Generation A thinks is common knowledge. The premise is that each society has such knowledge and that if it is not passed onto the the next generation, then that generation will develop a barrier to developing literacy.

So, the question is, can this theory be included in ESL instruction. Hirsch has a listing of trigger points, if you will, and admits that what constitutes national cultural literacy is changing all the time. While I do think his point is valid, I am wondering how to incorporate this into everyday lessons.

Thoughts..... Please note this question is based for an ESL rather than an EFL environment.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 2993
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be a boring teacher who never alluded to something they'd read (or indeed seen and/or heard - cinema for example, in the sense that there are many original screenplays, is a sort of new literacy), and there are certain areas e.g. sayings and proverbs (assuming one teaches or picks up on any), where one cannot but be touching on e.g. the Biblical origins of some of them (not that one has to explicitly mention origins). I guess the least one can expect is that some of these notions in apparent danger of becoming lost are at least expressed from time to time in a roundabout paraphrase (sort of a linguistic reinventing of the wheel) or in the form of only halfway-there "eggcorns" etc.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Rp



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 50
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree, however there seems to be a on going debate related to content vs process. Also, there is this Freirean concept of cultural invasion. I think Hirsch's point is quite valid, but concepts are harder to apply in the real world. This is where teacher skill enters the picture. If teaching English, like teaching literacy, is seen as a skill, then practise would seem the answer....but we all know that learning a language is not the same as, using Hirsch's example, hitting a baseball....sometimes other elements enter the mix.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 2993
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think ESL immigrants obviously can be cut a bit more slack than their native-speaker counterparts when it comes to their cultural literacy, but there is probably a halfway-identifiable/consensus core of linguistico-socio-cultural items that an immigrant could stand to gain from knowing, and that any native claiming to be such absolutely would know regardless of age, class etc.

I'm not sure I understand the Freirean notion of cultural invasion - not to be facetious, but it could beg the question of who is invading who. Assuming I've not completely misunderstood it, it seems a bit too strong, even in the context of e.g. compulsory ESL lessons.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Rp



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 50
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No I think you understand it well. One of the issues I find with many ESL teachers is, ironically, a "they should be like us" attitude. So, in that light one would hold the L2's culture as inferior.... I can't tell you how many times I've heard "they have to ask themselves why they came here". From my perspective one needs to take care working within differing cultures or one might, by accident or design, believe their culture as one of more value...this, as I see it is a form of cultural invasion.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 2993
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't taught ES(O)L, so I haven't quite worked out my attitudes to it. (I doubt if the UK's policies have ever quite filled its practitioners with joy though!). As far as EFL goes however (to turn the issues on their head somewhat), isn't the immigrant/emigrant/migrant EFL teacher supposed to be all for the host culture, and setting an example to students by learning at least some of the local language, customs etc. So one could with some justification ask why immigrants to ostensibly English-speaking countries should be exempt from any similar/reverse expectations. But perhaps that's the beauty of the liberal West - always championing others' plights whilst asking little or nothing for itself...all stemming from a quiet self-assurance that it will continue and survive in some form, despite whatever "onslaughts"?

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:54 am; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1294
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our Cultural Anthropology class is a great model for someone teaching anything. Our prof uses the computer/slides as a basis for the lesson and review available to students afterwards. She uses music, film, Youtube, a textbook with really up-to-date ideas and readings. She also picks out key words and helps us zero in on those and has encourage the class to share definitions. There are examples of good writing at the end of each chapter of the textbook with relevant topics to the every day life of first year students. The seminars help to reinforce the ideas with a chance for the student to use the new terms and ideas they are learning and the exams are essays that help to integrate the knowledge plus a little review of relevant key terms and people. She encourages us to study in groups. Other than sharing the essays, I can't see more to add to a teaching situation. There is constant feedback with two small essays and a mid-term and final exam.

Naturally as it is a course on the "Cultural" we are learning how important our own story is to us and if you don't use the story, understand it and then examine it, you are missing out on a huge portion of the student's lives. Of course, she gives us her experience and opinions as well but it is first based on where the students are and then building on that. If you can understand your own story and how you got it, then it is more likely that you might be able to see another person or generation's story.

We are all aware of the saying, "If you don't understand history, you will repeat it" and we usually operate on the principal of age being wise but since the aged have made such a mess of things so far, most young people are very dubious that we have something to teach them. That too is probably very typical for every generation. It is always a balance.

It might be useful for all teachers, especially now that education is so multicultural to take an Anthropology course and examine their beliefs.

However, in saying that, I have found that most ESL and EFL teachers are super aware of the problems and most deal really well with the situation.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Rp



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 50
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sally, taking an anthropology course is wonderful idea, and too be honest one I hadn't thought of. Thanx for your input.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Teacher Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Adult Education All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
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


Teachers College, Columbia University: Train to Teach English Here or Abroad
SIT

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