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December 1997 - Issue No. #29 (p.4)

Abstracts of Global Education Articles from Language Teaching Journals

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

A Study of Student Attitudes to German Language and Life

by B. Thornton and W. Cajkler

Language Learning Journal. No 14. 1996)

In this article, the authors report on a study of pupils' awareness of and attitudes to aspects of German life and culture among 178 14-15 year old UK learners who had studied German for 18 months. The survey explored attitudes to Germans and German life, assessed knowledge of German geography and politics, and considered stereotypical views of Germany. Parallel studies were conducted on France, Spain and Italy. Most learners were found to have an empathy with Germans and expressed positive or neutral attitudes, but had a superficial knowledge of the country and unsophisticated opinions, due to a lack of first-hand experience in Germany. The author suggests that, if language teaching and learning are to enhance cultural perspectives, more time should be given to exploring student attitudes, evaluating new material, reviewing curricula and designing relevant classroom activities.

Linguistic Non-Imperialism

by Ian Seaton (former ELT director, British Council, UK)

ELT Journal. Vol. 51. No 4. Oct. 1997

In this opinion article, the author describes how English is becoming the language for global communication in six different worlds: transnational companies, internet communication, scientific research, youth culture, international goods & services, and news & entertainment media. This, he says, is not because of efforts by the ELT industry or because English is "better" than other languages, but because of economic, historical and political circumstances. He identifies 4 propositions shared by the EFL profession: (1) the importance of reflective teaching; (2) the need for mutual respect and for efforts by native and non-native speakers to improve their competence and understanding of both English and their learners' mother tongue; (3) the notion that English doesn't belong to any particular native-speaker nation, but to the global culture of those in each country who inhabit the six worlds above; (4) the notion that language education can humanize us and connect us internationally through understanding and choice rather than control and coercion. The politics of language teaching, he suggests, consists in achieving a healthy balance between the global culture and local/regional/national cultures.

IELTS: Global Implications of Curriculum and Materials Design

by Craig Wallace

ELT Journal. Vol. 51. No 4. Oct. 1997

In this article, the author discusses cultural imperialism in the design and use of English teaching curricula, materials and tests. He mentions the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam and notes the social issue topics it contains - topics such as the greenhouse effect, traffic fatalities, smoking, nutrition, health, the use of animals in blood sports and experimentation, and the influence of advertising. He suggests that some of these topics lie well outside the experience, world view and, therefore, schemata, of students in more traditional societies of the world, who often have few background ideas or opinions to contribute to class speaking or writing tasks which require them to "discuss" in a foreign language. He suggests that "the more traditional and authoritarian the political and education system in a country, the less likely students are to have been encouraged to think for themselves or to use learning modes that emphasize cognitive processes rather than memorization". He criticizes lower-level EFL textbooks for "exhibiting an obsession with Western interests, such as diet/fitness, careers in the entertainment world, and Western pop music/media" as well as advanced English textbooks which "expect the average EFL student to have a degree of original intellectual thought and a range of opinions beyond the average native speaker".

Journals Referred To:

ELT Journal, Oxford University Press, Walton St., Oxford OX2 6DP UK

Language Learning Journal, 16 Regent Place, Rugby CV21 2PN, UK


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