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Bridging the gap: a self-discovering path into intercultural perception of self and the other Alessia Plutino & Alessia Cogo University of Southampton.

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Presentation on theme: "Bridging the gap: a self-discovering path into intercultural perception of self and the other Alessia Plutino & Alessia Cogo University of Southampton."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bridging the gap: a self-discovering path into intercultural perception of self and the other Alessia Plutino & Alessia Cogo University of Southampton

2 Aims What is Interculturality? Our project: “Reflections on Interculturality" Extracts from our blog Some conclusions and ideas for further development 2

3 3 What is Interculturality? TRADITIONALLY Cultural memberships or cultural differences seen as something ‘one either has or does not have’. Static, bounded and simplistic concept of ‘culture’ and ‘identity’. (Zhu Hua 2014:209) SHIFT OF MEANING “Interculturality” now used to describe a more fluid and complex view of ‘culture’ and intercultural encounters. NOWADAYS From “static” to “active”. From “being” to “doing” cultural identities.

4 4 “ Culturally different = socially constructed phenomenon > simultaneously belong to different categories, not all equally relevant at a given point ” (Zhu Hua 2014:209) ‘culture’ as a verb – an active process of meaning making (Street 1993:25) ‘new complexities of diversity’ (Vertovec 2010:86) A more comprehensive approach

5 Background and context Italian at University of Southampton > only language modules, no content modules. Students reach high levels in language learning ( CEFR C2) however > need to integrate more cultural aspects to achieve a better understanding of the country as well as Italians due to gap created by lack of specific content modules. 5

6 Methodology 2 groups of students Students of Italian L2 UK based, University of Southampton Intermediate level Students of English L2 Italy based, University of Salento Intermediate level

7 3 phases project 1 st phase Info In class discussion on specific topics, researching info, reading 2 nd phase Blog comments Tutor initiated > input > Students react to stimulus and express opinions and reflections on topic 3 rd phase Oral discussion Skype sessions on topics covered in class and explored on blog 7

8 Practical approach > 8 STUDENT CENTRED students assimilate info and research on specific topics students reflect about topic focusing on their own experiences and cultural backgrounds students elaborate content (oral/written) discuss with partners, compare, exchange info. AUTONOMY independent learning and engagement

9 Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) 9 Asynchronous CMC Commenting on project blog > Synchronous CMC One to one Skype sessions

10 Topics Internet language > Borrowings from English language Superstitions Stereotypes Advertising input >controversial video of an Italian journalist defending his language against English “invasion”

11 Analysis of extracts from “Internet language > 11 I think that Severgnini is right when he says that many people use loan words and calques in an unsuitable way. Nevertheless in a global world, as the one we live in, the idea of a language that refuses elements of other linguistic codes and cultures would be unrealistic.

12 I am a person always ready to welcome the contact with other cultures and languages -I think this is essential nowadays - but what is certain is that when two languages come into contact, one of them -the strongest one- will dominate. And what seems very clear to me is that English is dominating my language. And this is extremely evident when we hear words such as “forwardizzare” and “splittare”. In my opinion, influences from other languages MUST be welcomed in order to prove that it is a culture willing to grow in an international dimension. But, at the same time, why should we use English words to express concepts already existing in our native language i.e. (“forwardizzare” > “inoltrare”)???It is this our mistake… 12

13 Student reflects and suggest a solution: If no Italian word is already useful to pass the message through, one could use alternative ways to approach a problem like this, for example use the Italian construction “fare” (to do) + the foreign word. I think that “fare un briefing”, “fare forward”, “fare split” are much more easy words to use and understand both by native and foreign italian speakers. 13

14 In Francese per esempio, tutte le parole non hanno soltanto le stesse radici ma sono esattamente le stesse che in inglese. Le parole non sono state cambiate, e si usano adesso come se fossero parole francesi. Mi piace questo, perche per me, una lingua viva, e si sviluppa con la mescolanza con altre lingue. Non penso che sia un problema o un’ invasione di lingue straniere. E adesso, il mondo cambia velocemente, e dobbiamo essere capaci di addatarci! 14

15 > Colombian background: intercultural. Culturally different = simultaneously belonging to different categories Sono testimone di come l’imperialismo americano influenzi una lingua e imponga termini brutti ad altre lingue. Nello spagnolo parlato in Spagna parole come “ordenador”, “movil”, y “estacionar” sono usate mentre nello spagnolo latinoamericano (la versione che parlo io) le parole equivalenti sono “computador”, “cellular” y “parquear”. 15

16 ... Questo per me e’ prova che e’ imperativo considerare l’influenza degli Stati Uniti in qualsiasi dibattito dove si parla di parole inglesi in altre lingue perche mentre la Spagna e’ riuscita a conservare delle parole ‘tradizionali’ (non sto dicendo che non usano mai parole inglesi pero’!), nell’America Latina, che ha molto piu’ contatto con gli Stati Uniti ed e’ molto controllata economicamente e politicamente da loro, la lingua si e’ adattata per accomodare piu’ lessico inglese 16

17 I am wearing more than one hat … aligning and re-aligning as co-member of a group Il fatto che l’inglese si e’ infiltrato nell’italiano (e altre lingue che non sono legate geograficamente con gli Stati Uniti) e’ il risultato di una forma di integrazione a livello globale che vuol dire che, sfortunatamente, alcune persone (come Berlusconi) cedono all’illusione che dire qualche parola inglese le fara’ sembrare piu’ colte. Il peccato e’ che noi dobbiamo ascoltarlo... 17

18 Self-reflection path: insider identity is challenged and re-orientated in interactions (Zhu Hua 2014:209) SelfGeneralInsider 18

19 For some topics (stereoptypes, Internet language) it was clear from the beginning that students divided themselves into groups with different views: L1 >A more open minded/ flexible approach about the topic, allowing flexibility and permeations of new ideas as well as other cultures points of view. L1>A rather defined and rigid approach, expressing feeling of anger, dissatisfaction with own culture and own country’s attitude towards the issue and sometimes even shame. 19 L2 > An “insider” approach: reflecting about topic with shifting of identity based on one’s affiliations with L2

20 What has worked so far? Student engagement in terms of responses on blog > quite active and gained confidence after second topic. Students reflections on their own cultural background and sharing their experiences to make a point about topics discussed. Students felt relaxed and used a variety of tools to add content to their posts (mainly links, but also poetry and real life examples). Language acquisition not measured in details We noticed an improvement in written and oral homework and assignments 20

21 What has not worked so well… Skype sessions > at the beginning some pairs had difficulties in finding time to meet (different academic year set up) However > students very willing to catch up in sem 2 Tutor only had to “remind gently” the less active to post comments, but this happened only few times. 21

22 It is early times to draw conclusions… What we are left to do … Skype session recordings > analysis of data Analysis of data from blog, student questionnaires, final oral presentations 22

23 However … 23 looking back at comments posted so far on the blog > signs of spontaneous and natural self-reflection taking place reactions /taking sides/positioning > the idea that identity is dynamic > shifting of identities based on one’s different affiliations and self-conceptualization - Ibrahim (2003, p.172)

24 24 Grazie mille, any questions or comments?

25 References Hülmbauer, Böhringer & Seidlhofer. 2008. Introducing English as a Lingua Franca (ELF): Precursor and Partner in Intercultural Communication. Synergies Europe 3. 25-36. Seidlhofer, B. 2011. Understanding English as a Lingua Franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Vertovec, S. 2010. Towards post-multiculturalism? Changing communities, conditions and contexts of diversity. International Social Science Journal, 61, 199. Zhu Hua 2014. Exploring Intercultural Communication. London: Routledge. Street, Brian 1993. Culture is a verb. Anthropological aspects of language and cultural process. In D. Graddol, L. Thompson & M. Byram (eds) Language and Culture. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 23-43. Ibrahim A. (2003) “Whatssup homeboy?” joining the African diaspora: Black English as a symbolic site of identification and language Learning. In S Makoni, G. Smitherman, A.F. Ball, and A.K.Spears(eds), Black linguistics: Language, society, and politics in Africa and the Americas (pp169-85). London & NY : Routledge. 25

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