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Tasks using L2 literature for intercultural development

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1 Tasks using L2 literature for intercultural development
March 28, 2017 TBLT 2009, Lancaster ‘Tasks: context, purpose and use’ 3rd Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching Tasks using L2 literature for intercultural development Leticia Goodchild School of Language and Communication Studies University of East Anglia Acknowledgements To Griselda Beacon, from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, for her useful insights and critical reading of the data in the pedagogic action research project funded by the Higher Education Academy, Subject Centre LLAS Title slide

2 March 28, 2017 “Norma y Ester” “El libro de los afectos raros” by Carlos Gamerro, Colección La Otra Orilla, Editorial Norma, 2005. My own teaching practice – AR project with my own students Seminar on “Interculturality” – Spanish Honours Language undergraduates – British university –fourth & final year Literary texts, cultural artefacts, process of developing my own pedagogies to develop intercultural competence Analyse four pedagogical tasks based on “N y E” by Arg. Gamerro sample of the data collected Describe my thinking process in the design of these tasks Follow me in my reflective journey of my own teaching practice better understand the pedagogical decisions I made in the design of tasks Work in progress – open to debate and input from colleagues – share it with it to enrich the analysis of the data for my PhD thesis March 28, 2017

3 TBLT the intercultural dimension of language learning stereotypes
March 28, 2017 TBLT the intercultural dimension of language learning stereotypes binary opposites action research project data in Spanish March 28, 2017

4 The plot “Norma y Ester”
March 28, 2017 The plot “Norma y Ester” by Carlos Gamerro Narrative - back room of a salon in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where these two women, Norma and Ester, wash men’s hair, while their boss cuts their hair in the front and main room of the salon. The women come from the impoverished suburbs of Buenos Aires This is Ester, dressed in revealing clothes. Ester doesn’t wear these clothes because she wants to, but because she’s been instructed by her boss to dress this provocatively to please the customers. Indeed, the reader discovers that Ester is expected to give sexual favours to these men. And this seems to be the main attraction of the business. Ester’s best friend, Norma, has been dismissed from the same job for no longer giving in to the sexual demands of Victor, the most valued customer in the salon. In an attempt to avenge her friend’s misfortune, Ester manages to get the same job and plots to take revenge by strangling Victor as she washes his hair in the back room. Victor is depicted as an arrogant, powerful and sexist man who abuses women both verbally and sexually. Given the fact that these women come from a low socio-economic background, the reader is led to believe that Norma and Ester accept these working conditions for financial reasons. The text is set in a patriarchal social structure in the early 1990s, where Norma and Ester are taken advantage of by the customers at the hairdresser’s, and how from a subordinate position they fight to gain more space and recognition in a male-dominated context. March 28, 2017

5 March 28, 2017 The men in the story Víctor treats women as if they only exist to satisfy his sexual needs. (Aude, French) The men in the story see women as no more than prostitutes. They want to control, dominate and own them. They use them as objects. They even choose their clothes. If the women don’t obey them, they are cast aside. (Flora, English) Víctor treats women as if they were his slaves. (Johnny, English) - Show you a sample of the data which is representative of the students’ initial interpretations of the story. March 28, 2017

6 March 28, 2017 The women in the story Norma and Ester dress like prostitutes … the colours Norma uses don’t match with her make-up, which shows that she has no taste or sense of dress. (Sally, English) I found the way the women in the story dress atrocious! We, English women, are a lot more conservative and dress with more style. (Elizabeth, English) Norma and Ester are powerless. They are totally dominated and controlled by Víctor and el Gordo. (Linda, English) As can be gleaned from the students’ initial interpretations of the story, their schemata acts as a filter through which they analyse the situations and characters in the story. mental structures that organize their knowledge of their world which they use to interpret texts. structures we have in our head - theory of the world in the head Everything we experience either in real life or through our reading, we do so with our own schemata. . Schemata are not universal, but culturally shaped. Schemata are revealed through stories. This is how I became interested in the students’ real-life stories What stories can they relate to this story? Can I “read” their schemata through their stories? How do they explain the world as they see it and as they would like others to see it? Literary texts open windows to different cultures, Can this entrance into other ways of thinking and behaviours challenge their schemata. challenge and problematise their schemata - to construct new meanings March 28, 2017

7 March 28, 2017 Phase One What experiences come to mind, are recalled or provoked by the reading of the story? Did the students reflect on those experiences at the time they happened? Or did they just live through the experiences without analysing them or reflecting on them? Have they thought critically of them and had a learning experience as a consequence? . I started off with the students’ previous experiences and prior knowledge. I was interested in the personal anecdotes and stories that the literary text could possibly trigger. What experiences come to mind, are recalled or provoked by the reading of the story? My questions at the time were ... READ I thought that by guiding learners to start their intercultural journey from what they already know, it would provide them with a concrete platform to move on to a more abstract experiential level. TASK ONE Think of your experiences with the cultural Hispanic Other and relate them to Gamerro’s story “Norma y Ester”. How do they compare? What personal experiences does the story remind you of? TASK TWO Write a diary entry giving a personal response to Gamerro’s “Norma y Ester”. ( words) March 28, 2017

8 Autobiographical Narratives
March 28, 2017 Autobiographical Narratives Identify one preconceived notion in your assigned narrative that the students have of the Hispanic Other. What are the underlying beliefs about Latin American gendered identity in the students’ narratives and observations? identify their underlying beliefs and preconceptions about the Hispanic Other Identify 2 or 3 preconceived notions that Ss have of Arg gendered identity. autobiographical narratives for illustration purposes: Martine, French The first thing that shocked me in this story was the fact that women have to reveal so much of their bodies. French women are more prudish about their bodies. There’s no need to show so much flesh to be sexy. I think we don’t share the same notion of ‘femininity’ or ‘sexiness’ with Latin American women. For me, dressing sexily means elegantly, not necessarily with a miniskirt or a plunging neckline. The sexiness is in the detail like the way I arrange my hair, my make-up or jewelry. To my mind, the style of a miniskirt and a plunging neckline can be sexy, but above all, it is vulgar, and people might think that the girl is up for sex. So this aspect of vulgarity is the major difference between both cultures. Kate, English When Norma is getting ready to go out with Victor (in the story), she dresses provocatively, like a prostitute. The colours she uses don’t match with her make-up, which shows that she has no taste or sense of dress. When I was in Ciudad Real during my year abroad, I taught English as a foreign language to children. Most of their mothers didn’t work, they were housewives, and this can be related to sexism. It is the man who who goes out to work to support the family. (Brenda, English) Emma, English During my year abroad in Spain, I lived with a Mexican guy. I noticed how much he disliked being contradicted by a woman. Every time his mother came from Mexico, she would cook for him, make his bed, put his rubbish in the bin ... she would do everything for him! So we had lots of arguments. We were so different. He showed his lack of respect for me one day when he put some of his hair on my toothbrush. That’s why I say that Latin American men have no respect for women. Linda, English When I read this story, it made me think of my trip to South America, because there I met such arrogant men that fed the image of the machista. In those days I was very naive and I was not aware of these issues. I knew absolutely nothing about anything, but when I think back now, I can relate some of my own experiences to the short story. Relate the story to their own experiences during their year abroad autobiographical narratives allow us to see their perceptions of not only Argentinian gendered identity but also other Hispanic cultural identities. Comparisons with aspects of their own culture. a starting point to understand and interpret the situations, values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of the characters they encounter in the literary text. Fill the silences – indeterminacy gaps – that the text leaves in the reading process. Emerge as parallel stories that let us see their preconceived notions of the cultural Other. The data indicates that ss have already had several encounters with the Hispanic Other in different contexts, and that they’ve had their stereotypes confirmed. Their narratives reveal that they’ve interpreted their lived experiences in similar ways as they’ve read and interpreted the short story. March 28, 2017

9 Stereotypes Argentinian men Argentinian women
March 28, 2017 Stereotypes Argentinian men Argentinian women treat women as sex objects are promiscuous feel sex is a natural need so they do not apologise for their behaviour cannot control their actions or emotions due to this internal urge do not take women’s feelings into account wear revealing clothes to please men are weak, submissive, obedient, subservient and fragile are not respected or listened to lack self-confidence and so do not fight for their rights are powerless in society are discriminated against DATA ANALYSIS As can be gleaned from the autobiographical narratives and observations, students voice their understandings of the cultures they have experienced and expose the stereotypes embedded in their perceptions. Comments are not reduced to Argentinian culture, but include other Hispanic countries. reading Gamerro’s story provides an opportunity for self reflection and critical analysis of those experiences. The literary text brings them to the fore, it brings those lived experiences with Otherness to the surface. Interesting to note that Ss admitted having these stereotypes before they read the story. Emma: already had preconceptions about LA men which she confirmed by one incident with a Mexican young man she met in Spain. Nancy: seems to be put out by the fact that these Argentinian men sat at her table and danced with her uninvited. She equates this to a lack of respect for women. Nancy relates this story to support her opinion that LA men are inconsiderate, thoughtless and disrespectful to women. Essentialist views simplified generalisations that arise from their limited encounters with the Hispanic other at times display strong negative attitudes against alterity A perspective that ignores individual differences Lacks critical thinking   . Ethnocentric: showing a failure to recognise that other people’s cultures are also important and valuable. March 28, 2017

10 Binary opposites Most Latin American ... Most European ...
March 28, 2017 Binary opposites Most Latin American ... Most European ... men disrespect women men treat women like sex objects women are vulgar women are fragile and weak women dress provocatively men respect women men take women’s emotions into account women are elegant women are strong and confident women have a sense of dress Ss view cultural identities in terms of binary opposites READ need to become aware that we’re thinking in terms of binary oppositions - are a necessary step towards thirdness. You need to play with the binaries for some time in different ways before moving on to the third space to gain an insight into other perspectives. we want ss to problematise culture, not to simplify it, but - aim: to develop a multiplicity of perspectives. March 28, 2017

11 March 28, 2017 About stereotypes There has been much discussion in recent times concerning the problems with stereotypes and essentialist models of culture. While varying degrees of cultural fixity are still projected in current thinking there seems to be a strong movement in the direction of seeing them as only starting points from which to explore complexity. (Holliday, A Foreword in Feng, A. Byram, M. & Fleming, M. Becoming Interculturally Competent through Education and Training) - underlying principle of the task lay in the idea that gendered identity is a performative act (Butler, 1990), i.e. a theatrical space where a multiplicity of identities can be freely adopted in different contexts and at different times. In the light of this postmodernist conception of the social construction of gendered identity, the students were encouraged to deconstruct their own gender stereotyping of Argentinian culture in order to gain new insights into the roles performed by men and women in the literary text. So far they have seen that Victor is a machista man who ill treats women, and that women are submissive, obedient and fragile. Objective – develop new perspectives in the light of the new findings & to challenge the binary opposites. Challenge their dichotomous thinking I wanted to challenge this polarity & to problematise cultural gendered identity through the creation of a task I March 28, 2017

12 March 28, 2017 What then can be done?   What pedagogical tasks can we design to reduce these cultural stereotypes and challenge the binary opposites? How can we support students to move away from generalised views of cultural identity through TBLT? What tasks can we design to challenge their dichotomous thinking and essentialist views of the cultural Other? After the initial analysis of the data, my questions were: READ SLIDE March 28, 2017

13 March 28, 2017 Task Goals to raise awareness of learners’ own perceptions of the Other to question their own assumptions and beliefs to problematise their own worldview to develop criticality to consider the personal and contextual variables to develop higher order thinking skills to develop empathy to foster tolerance for ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity A summary of the task goals READ SLIDE March 28, 2017

14 March 28, 2017 Phase Two What did I do? March 28, 2017

15 Reflections on the data
March 28, 2017 Can you identify any altered schemata and/or different viewpoint(s) in the students’ comments? Can you identify any altered schemata, perspective or viewpoint in the students’ comments? Can you find any evidence of modification or transformation of the existing schemata and/or development of new perspectives? Were the students’ schemata challenged? E.g. the absolutist belief that that LA men are sexist and abusive of women and that women are submissive and obedient (a set of norms internalised in early socialisation) can you find any evidence that it has been transformed? Were existing or preliminary schemata modified? The students’ preliminary schemata are useful because students depend on them to make sense of the text and use it as the basis for negotiating their identities and mediating learning. During mediation, their preliminary schemata undergo a process of modification or transformation. (p.86) March 28, 2017

16 Emerging themes Reflections on the inner self Changes of perspectives
March 28, 2017 Emerging themes Reflections on the inner self Changes of perspectives Instances of transformation Use of tentative language Recognition of individual differences Emotional impact Gemma: How can we assess/measure the transformation, if any, that the student undergoes? How can we assess the development of criticality? How can we make them visible? (Gemma’s comment) Hilary: We need to become aware of our position in the world, of where we are positioned, and that our interpretations are coloured by who we are and what we are. histories and cultures deserve a whole unit. Emotional impact: ss describe a feeling of shock. Recurrent theme in the data. They speak about a huge difference between the cultures. ( Could intercultural education then really be about learning to deal positively with constant change in the turbulent world we all inhabit? March 28, 2017

17 What next? more self-reflection more cross-cultural analysis
March 28, 2017 What next? more self-reflection more cross-cultural analysis more explicit teaching and learning of criticality. more awareness that cultural identity is not fixed more of a questioning attitude more critical of their own personal responses more critical of their own culture This is a selection of the tasks I’d like to implement in the third phase of my AR project. I want to encourage more self-reflection and more cross-cultural analysis, which I feel is lacking based on the data I collected. As can be gleaned from the data, people can cross cultures regularly with relative lack of engagement. I want to make the development of criticality more explicit rather than implicit. Next time I collect data, I’d like to be asking of it ‘Which of these class contributions or observartions could be described as ‘critical’?’ I’d like to be specifically looking at critical cultural awareness in order to define the concept better for my own understanding of how my students develop criticality in intercultural education. I want ss to understand that culture is not fixed, and that their voice can contribute to the ongoing construction of culture. I want them to have a questioning attitude and to handle complexity and enjoy uncertainty. I want them to be aware and critical of their own personal responses I want them to have a critical perspective on their own culture NB. We need to build knowledge first before we become critical. Knowledge is a necessary precursor for criticality. POSSIBLE FUTURE TASKS Write a 21st century version of Gamerro’s “Norma y Ester” changing the sociocultural context. Make sure that your narrative contains the main elements of the plot as the original version. Share your viewpoints with Latin Americans and record their perspective(s) on your observations. Transcribe the recording and bring it to class for a session on cross-cultural analysis. What is their perception of your ideas? How does their perception of you compare with your self perception? March 28, 2017

18 The role of the intercultural teacher
March 28, 2017 The role of the intercultural teacher […] is more interested in fault lines than in smooth landscapes, in the recognition of complexity and in the tolerance of ambiguity, not in the search for clear yardsticks of competence or insurances against pedagogical malpractice … understanding and shared meaning, when it occurs, is a small miracle, brought about by the leap of faith that we call ‘communication across cultures’. Language teachers are well aware of the difficulties of their task. But they often view these difficulties in dichotomous terms that unduly simplify the issues and prevent them from understanding the larger context. Kramsch, C. (1993) Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford Applied Linguistics., pp. 2 The quote speaks for itself.

19 March 28, 2017 Thank you March 28, 2017

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