With the increased fragmentation of people and capital around the globe, and the increased connectivity brought about by the deterritorialized social networks, it has become more difficult to conceive of culture in foreign language study without falling into reductionist stereotypes or tourist representations of foreign reality. While linguists have linked culture to discourse and ways of thinking, foreign language educators have not really started to confront the global realities with which they are preparing their students to engage. It is no longer sufficient to teach the L2 of some national monolingual native speaker attached to a homogenous national C2 culture. The target has now become the multilingual multicultural speaker who knows how to “operate between languages” (MLA, 2007) and navigate between various cultures. But whose languages and whose cultures? Culture today has been reframed as historicity and subjectivity (Hanks, 2000). This article will examine the historical and subjective dimension of language-as-culture and how it impacts the teaching and learning of foreign languages in a global age.
This study compared effectiveness of song versus chant instruction against a combination of these on word decoding (word reading or sounding out words) and rhyme production among four groups of Taiwanese EFL fourth graders. Three intact classes were randomly assigned to receive one of three musical instruction types: song only, chant only, or combination of song and chant instruction, whereas a fourth (control) group received its regular instruction. The instructional period lasted for five weeks with eighty minutes of instruction per week. Researcher-developed sight word decoding and rhyme production tests rated each type of musical instruction. Decoding results for sight words and all words (sight words plus non-words) showed that: (a) three experimental groups (Song, Chant, S + C) not only made significant progress but also remarkably outperformed the Control Group on the decoding posttest; (b) the S + C Group significantly outperformed the Chant Group on decoding posttest; (c) non-significant differences emerged between the Chant Group and other experimental groups. Rhyme production posttest scores regarding real words and all words (real words plus non-words) indicated: (a) all groups significantly progressed in rhyme production; (b) three experimental groups significantly excelled the Control Group; (c) non-significant differences arose among experimental groups. ANOVA results of non-word scores on both decoding and rhyme production posttests revealed non-significant differences among four groups. Ranking of four groups’ gain scores (posttest minus pretest) across decoding and rhyme production is consistent: S + C > Song > Chant > Control. Four educational implications and several suggestions for future research are provided based on results of this study.
In a competitive and product-driven EFL classroom context, more and more teaching approaches have been geared primarily toward assisting students to master language skills rather than building up their socio-cognitive skills. Both blended skills are crucial to students’ future academic and professional success. This paper reports on a study investigating whether and how a process approach to writing instructions helps develop the socio-cognitive skills of 24 first-year Thai Sports Science undergraduate students. The study also explores the students’ opinions about this approach to their socio-cognitive skills development. The quantitative data from the scores of group writing tasks, socio-cognitive skills and self-assessment indicate that in addition to the students’ improved writing ability, the approach enhanced their socio-cognitive development at different degrees. Three underlying causes of such degrees are discussed. The qualitative results from ten students’ interview responses show that the process-approach instruction was viewed as a useful means to develop their affective, social, and cognitive processes. The paper concludes with implications and recommendations for further studies.
This study aims to further the understanding of the relationship between two affective learner variables: language anxiety and motivation. The research sample was comprised of university EFL freshmen who were placed into different proficiency levels for required English classes. Results of the data analysis established that anxiety levels was were significantly lower when students had a higher degree of motivation. The relation between anxiety and motivation was found to be stronger than that of between language proficiency and motivation. Out of the three proficiency levels, the strongest association between anxiety and motivation existed was seen among advanced-level students. Learner attitude was also found to have a relatively stronger association with anxiety than the other motivational components for students at this proficiency level. The findings suggested that the combination of speaking anxiety and fear of negative evaluation acted as a primary source of language anxiety in the Taiwanese EFL classroom. However, the other anxiety subcomponent, general anxiety about English classes, was found to have the strongest connection with learner motivation.
The objective of this study was to determine whether there was any significant difference in terms of the beliefs about language learning among groups of students at different levels of English proficiency, with different age and gender, and majoring in different academic fields. Horwitz’s Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory (BALLI) was administered to Thai EFL university students (N = 532). In terms of two of the five factors, which were empirically identified by factor analysis in the author’s previous study, a significant difference was identified between groups of students with different levels of English language proficiency. Similarly, language learning beliefs were significantly different among groups of students majoring in different fields of study in terms of one factor. The findings suggest that language learning beliefs are different among the learners with different previous language learning experiences, which were reflected in the participants’ different proficiency levels and different subject majors.
For the growing number of Chinese language learners around the world, classroom learning environment has a major effect on their L2 motivation. By analyzing non-heritage, middle grade students’ voices expressed in focus group interviews over two school years, we found students enjoyed learning activities in which theycould participate actively and practice what they have learned. Students felt they were able to learn more when these learning activities were presented as competitive activities and were supported with visuals and additional resources. Students also expressed wanting to learn content that can be used in everyday context and have multiple opportunities to learn Chinese words and culture. We believe our study provides empirical support to Dörnyei and Ushioda’s (2011) L2 Motivation Self-System Model that posited that the L2 learning experience can help to create the basic motivational conditions and to generate and protect motivation. We also provide specific suggestions for teachers.
Peer feedback has been found to benefit second and foreign language (L2) student writers. Technology affords new channels through which students can exchange feedback, and one that has shown promise as a feedback channel is microblogging. The introduction of microblogging to lectures and conferences appears to promote greater interactivity, and it is posited that a similar positive outcome may occur if microblogging is introduced for student writers to exchange feedback throughout the writing process. Although positive perceptions of a particular technology are important for successful implementation, research on how the benefits resulting from microblogging use during lectures and conferences can be extended to the area of writing is lacking. Ascertaining students’ initial perceptions of technologies, particularly what they find positive and the difficulties they encounter, will help inform later use. This study, therefore, sought to examine L2 student writers’ perceptions of microblogging as they used it to work on completing writing assignments over the course of one semester. It was found that perceptions were generally negative towards microblogging, except for its use as a feedback channel. Access issues, usability issues, and a perceived lack of popularity of the chosen microblogging platform were put forward as aspects that contributed to participants’ negative perceptions.
This study compared Vietnamese EFL primary teachers’ self-rated language proficiency with the perceived level required for their job. Surprising gaps between the two levels regarding all five skills were reported. The teachers rated their language proficiency (on all skills, comprising reading, listening, writing and speaking) higher than what, in their opinion, was required for their job. While investigating the causes of such gaps and the participants’ low self-assessed linguistic competence, semi-structured interviews revealed a paradox which the participants were experiencing during a training course and their language proficiency development process. A discussion of a matrix of interrelated challenges underlying such paradox led to the call for a holistic approach with better collaboration among different forces at different levels to resolve language proficiency related issues in order to draft meaningful and long-term supporting plans in this context.
ACTFL generic proficiency guidelines describe what learners are able to perform at various proficiency levels. These guidelines, in particular the oral proficiency guidelines (OPG), have been widely used to assess learners’ proficiency across institutions – via the oral proficiency interview (OPI) technique – irrespective of curriculum, teaching methods, and materials. Many institutions and organizations place great emphasis on such assessments in making decisions regarding placement, scholarship, and program evaluation. Although the usefulness of the OPG has been widely acknowledged, it is also recognized that the guidelines lack details regarding the specific features and characteristics of any particular language. As we know, each language carries specific linguistic, pragmatic, and cultural features that affect the descriptors of the various proficiency levels of a particular language. In the case of the Indonesian language, for example, tense is not a determining factor in defining proficiency. However, cultural aspects such as the use of pronouns, terms of address, and passive voice are important indicators of communicative ability at various levels. This paper will: 1) address the importance of developing descriptors of oral proficiency for Indonesian; 2) describe the significance of the collaborative process of developing the guidelines; and 3) explore some implications for the teaching of cultural competence in Indonesian.
This article discusses possible reasons behind the success of Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Malang Indonesian abroad program 2010–2012. For this purpose, it will focus on the role of the teaching of descriptive Indonesian in the effective implementation of Communicative Language Teaching and in the learners’ high achievement in communicative competence as shown in the Oral Proficiency Interview test results provided by the American Councils of International Education. This discussion is based mostly on observations of Indonesian teaching programs in various institutions in Indonesia in the past five years as well as my active participation and interviews with the learners, peer tutors, and instructors during the CLS Malang programs in the summers of 2010–2012. In addition, the examination of various Indonesian curricula, syllabi and teaching materials in various institutions that teach Indonesian to native as well as non-native speakers will hopefully help to provide insights for more successful language abroad programs.
Learning a language entails learning its culture (Kramsch, 1993). There is a close relationship between language and culture that makes them inseparable in the teaching and learning process. Brooks (1960) made a distinction between ‘Culture’ with a capital ‘C’ – art, music, literature, politics, and so forth – and ‘culture’ with a small ‘c’ – the behavioral pattern and life style of everyday people. Nurturing learners’ cultural awareness holistically is necessary from the beginning of their learning process. Byram and Morgan (1994) stated that cultural learning has to take place as an integral part of language learning. This study describes the procedures for implementing a project-based approach to nurture learners’ cultural awareness in a beginners’ level Indonesian language course offered to undergraduate students. Every semester, a cultural project is organized beyond the classroom contact hours to give students hands-on experiences of the target culture. A survey was conducted to obtain students’ perceptions of the value of using a project-based approach to cultivate cultural awareness. The results of this study show that hands-on experiences implemented in the project have enriched students’ knowledge about the culture of Indonesia. The project supports and is an extension of what has been learned in class. It is an eye-opener and provides an insight into the target culture and also a means to enhance collaboration and good interactions among students and teachers.
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan’s only university that specializes in area studies, has developed a new language education program for the purpose of encouraging the understanding of world issues through the study of foreign languages. Since 2005, we have been receiving a special funding in order to gather important articles from the Internet to use as teaching materials for the students majoring in Arabic, Turkish and Persian Studies. The students have also been posting Japanese translations of the articles on the University’s home page. For students, the responsibility of translating and presenting these articles to the public, as opposed to traditional methods, leads to not only an improvement in their translating skills, but also a bond between Japan and the respective area of study and a clear awareness of Japanese society’s culture and its relation to world. This, in turn, contributes to the education of people with a high level of language skills and the ability to cooperate with people from many different cultural backgrounds in order to work towards solutions for world problems. We are attempting to use the translation of authentic cultural texts from other regions to further these objectives, an example being the translation of a Malay comic by advanced students to be incorporated into the Malay Studies curriculum and perhaps published online for public dissemination.
Social media have been increasingly embraced by educators as an appealing platform to engage Generation Y learners academically, socially and culturally. This paper reports preliminary findings of an ongoing research study that examines the use of social media (in particular, blogs and YouTube) in fostering learners’ cultural reflection and active construction of understanding in a foreign language. Data consist of blog entries and digital stories made by learners of Vietnamese as a foreign language. An analysis is made of the learners’ target cultural experiences using Moran’s (2001) cultural experiential approach. Findings are discussed with implications for using social media to integrate cultural learning in foreign language education, and suggestions for further research.
In American and other western universities, a considerable part of student body of Hindi as a foreign language (HFL) courses comprises second and third generations of Indian diaspora “Heritage Learner” students. Living in a community, cultural ties are maintained with the help of some pan-Indian elements such as Indian festivals and the popular culture of Bollywood. Bollywood and Bollywood type soap operas have become a driving force in raising the interest and motivation of not only diasporic students, but also often ethnically non-Indian students too. Including Bollywood elements in HFL classes through songs, video clips of popular dialogue sequences, and posters of Hindi films keeps the students’ interest level very high. Often Bollywood type sequences can be used in a role play, script (for a film scene) writing activities or other communicative tools. There is also a downside to Bollywood in HFL teaching. As the stories of Bollywood movies are often unrealistic, so is the language used in them. There is excessive code switching between Hindi and English, and sometimes different dialects or even other cognate languages such as Punjabi, Marathi or Gujarati which can be potentially confusing and misleading for students. However, the incorporation of carefully selected Bollywood elements can enhance the students’ learning experience.
One of the most difficult goals for learners of Japanese is to master keigo (polite language), which is a complex linguistic and socio-cultural phenomenon, but indispensable in any social context. In order to be able to master keigo, a vast amount of knowledge and skills, such as identification of cultural patterns and understanding of social, psychological and situational contexts, as well as the motivation to learn socio-culturally appropriate behavior are required. However, due to the basic function of keigo that creates a social hierarchy or rank, some resistance or mismatched cultural expectations can be seen among learners of Japanese. This article addresses such issues and reports on a practical study that attempted to raise socio-cultural awareness as well as the significance of keigo as ‘expressing self’ through the contextual analysis of a TV drama as an introduction to keigo for Japanese elementary level learners.
The present study was conducted with 44 bilingual English and Chinese speaking university students in Singapore. Twenty five minutes of TV drama edited down from a 12-hour drama series were used for viewing. In addition, task sheets, focusing on ‘address terms’ and ‘speech styles,’ as well as transcripts where target expressions are left blank, were developed and used as teaching materials in three lectures over a six-week period. Field notes about the discussion and feedback sessions after each class were taken and pre- and post-surveys were conducted to investigate learners’ knowledge and changes in their perceptions and understanding of keigo.
The results revealed that elementary learners had some knowledge about keigo even prior to the formal teaching of keigo, but they tended to misunderstand that keigo is only used in business contexts and they linked the necessity of learning of keigo as to their plans to work for a Japanese company in the future. The results also indicated that the TV materials helped them to understand that keigo is widely used in various social contexts and it provides insights into speakers’ treatments of the situation, feelings and attitudes toward listeners, speakers’ identity, and so forth. Besides this, the article reports on the outcome of the practice, and discusses the teaching implications for keigo education, focusing on effective ways to use media materials for raising socio-cultural awareness. Through the discussion, the article argues that keigo is about much more than creating social differences and has referential functions that express ‘self.’ Thus, it is important to raise learners’ awareness about these aspects of keigo, which tend to be neglected in current teaching practice.