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June 1997 - Issue No. #27 (p.4)

Abstracts of Global Education Articles from Language Teaching Journals

Please send in relevant news items on global topics from language teaching journals.

Tourist or Explorer? Reflection in the Foreign Language Classroom

by Gerhard Fischer

Foreign Language Annals. Vol 29. No 1. 1996 [abstracted in Language Teaching. Vol 29. No 3. July 1996]

In this article, the author discusses the traditional primacy of form over content in foreign language teaching and argues that viewing content learning as the learning of facts goes against the wider goals of education. He uses the metaphors of "tourist" and "explorer" to describe the distinction between memorizing linguistic forms and cultural facts in contrast to using the second language to explore a different culture. He demonstrates this with the example of a German-US student e-mail exchange project, and asserts that critical thinking and reflective learning can better promote both language proficiency and intercultural understanding.

Sexism in the Discourse Roles of Textbook Dialogues

by Sofia Poulou

Language Learning Journal. No 15. March 1997

This article describes a survey of the discourse roles of men and women in the dialogues of two modern Greek-as-a-foreign-language conversation textbooks. The survey focussed on (a) the amount of speech by each gender; (b) the number of initiating / final utterances by each sex, (c) gender and language functions (informational/social/directive/expressive) in the dialogues. The author found that overall men speakers in the textbooks spoke more, produced more initial/final utterances and gave more information/directions while women speakers made more requests. The author warned about the implications of making male/female students practice and/or memorize sexist textbook dialogues, and gave suggestions for subverting these through reversing sex roles (so female students read out male roles), role-playing more empowering situations and roles, and having students rewrite sexist dialogues.

An African, Teaching EFL?

by Godson Onyekwere

IATEFL Newsletter. No. 136. April-May 1997

This article describes the unique experiences of a Nigerian teaching English in Poland. The author talks about the surprise his Polish EFL students get when they come into the English classroom expecting a "white" lecturer and find instead a "black" man. He discusses how his English courses have become extremely popular, not only because of the colour of his skin but also because of the strong feeling of empathy he builds with his students (he memorizes and uses the first names of all 200 of his students), his focus on communicative activities dealing with real life issues (sex, money, career, relationships, family), his warm sense of humour and his obvious love of his students, his subject and teaching.

Looming Language Loss

News item from the Media Watch Section, Modern Language Journal

Modern Language Journal. Vol 81. No 1. Spring 1997

According to a 1996 Associated Press article, scholars believe 90% of human languages may disappear by the mid-21st century, pushed to oblivion by the spread of English and other "world" languages via media, trade and migration, and by the pressure of dominant vernaculars in their homelands. In America, more than 150 native languages (down from 400 when Columbus arrived) are in decline. In India, 149 languages are considered endangered. Extinction looms even in Europe: Only 200 Cornish speakers remain in England. A thin, underfinanced line of linguists around the world is trying to hold back the tide and save - or at least document - many of these tongues. Linguist Daryl Pfantz laments, "When the last speaker of a language dies off, it's like burning a library building."

Communication and Integrity: Moral Development and Modern Languages

by David Smith

Language Learning Journal. No 15. March 1997

In this article, the author argues for adding a moral dimension to the language classroom through teaching students the ethics of communication and encouraging them to respond truthfully to classroom language questions. He criticizes the common attitude of some teachers "Who cares if pupils make up answers as long as they're practicing the target language" and stresses the moral loss that occurs when pupils learn to associate the foreign language with the exchange of trivial, untrue or unimportant information rather than as a means for conveying truthful information and respect for others.

Journals Referred To

IATEFL Newsletter, 3 Kingsdown Chambers, Tankerton, Whitstable, Kent CT52DJ, UK

Language Learning Journal, 150 Railway Terrace, Rugby CV213HN, UK

Language Teaching, Cambridge Univer. Press, Edinburgh Bldg. Shaftesbury Rd, Cambridge CB22RU, UK

Modern Language Journal, Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 114 N Murray St, Madison WI 53715-1199 USA


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