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Globalization and language teaching

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Presentation on theme: "Globalization and language teaching"— Presentation transcript:

1 Globalization and language teaching
David Block Institute of Education University of London

2 Plan of action The rise of CLT/TBLT CLT/TBLT as globalized phenomenon The global TEIL textbook and commodified identities Conclusion

3 (1) CLT was about new ways of viewing language education in modern societies
In the aftermath of anti-establishment movements with explicit anti-institutional implications..., educational approaches which called for the de-schooling of society ... or, in its less radical forms, for a basic humanizing of technocratic and de-humanizing schools, had gained ground. To humanize schools would require an orientation towards ‘holistic’ education, which aimed to promote growth in intrapersonal awareness and interpersonal sharing as well as intellectual development. (Legutke and Thomas, 1991: 36)

4 (2) There was a change in how language was conceived
The shift from an exclusive focus on grammar (syntax, morphology and phonology) and lexis to communicative competence (Hymes, 1971) Michael Halliday’s (1973) early form of functional linguistics was influential at this time. There was an interest in the work of John Austin (1962) and John Searle (1965) and the development of ‘speech act theory’

5 (3) There was a change in language teaching practices
Information gap It is necessarily inherently good to speak and to do so as frequently as possible One learns to speak by speaking

6 CLT/TBLT as globalized phenomenon
CLT/TBLT as ideoscape, i.e. a global flow of ideas about language teaching and learning. Ideologically loaded- related to sets of beliefs and feelings about the best way to conceptualise language, communication and language Ideologies are always and necessarily constructed in the interests of a particular group or groups (in this case, the academic and educational communities propagating CLT/TBLT)

7 Clash of ideologies ‘[j]ust as the technologically and economically developed nations of the West (or centre) hold an unfair monopoly over less developed (or periphery) communities in industrial products, similar relations characterize the marketing of language teaching methods’ (Canagarajah, 2002: 135). New approaches to language teaching are disembedded, i.e. lifted out of their source contexts (e.g. US, UK) and then taken up elsewhere in the world. This assumes that their form and content transcend spatio-temporal contexts (Giddens, 1990) There is seldom any dialogue between exporters of new approaches and their importers. There is no discussion, not only of the form and content of approaches, but also of their ideological underpinnings.

8 Reconciling the global and the local
glocalization, taken from the world of business in Japan, means marketing goods and services on a global basis by catering to local particularities. Here, it conveys the idea that the global does not merely overwhelm or swallow the local; rather, syntheses emerge from contacts between the global and the local via a processes involving the ‘interpenetrating’ of the ‘particular’ and the ‘universal’ (Robertson, 1995: 30).

9 Glocalization processes in ELT
… involve a call for local teachers to work out their own solutions, appropriating what they deem suitable from globally circulating ideas about language education in the development of locally-generated pedagogical practices. But there seems to be a near-exclusive focus on Anglophone countries or English-dominant educational environments. But see e.g. Cheiron McMahill’s ‘grass-roots feminist English classes’ in Japan.

10 The global TEIL textbook and commodified identities
Some publishers provide lists of proscribed topics, while others rely informally on the acronym PARSNIP (politics, alcohol, religion, sex, narcotics, isms, and pork) as a rule of thumb. One publisher’s list I saw contained some thirty items to be avoided or handled only with extreme care. This included alcohol, anarchy, Aids, Israel and six pointed stars, politics, religion, racism, sex, science when it involves altering nature, e.g. genetic engineering, terrorism, and violence. (Gray, 2002: 159) By contrast, what does seem to be allowed are sanitized presentations of various aspects of national cultures (their geography, social norms, history, iconography and so on), in effect the traditional content of foreign language textbooks

11 However, today new textbooks and new editions of older textbooks include more and more references to an emergent global culture And foundational to this shift in emphasis has been the commodification of the English language, and as I will argue the concomitant branding of English speaking identities which learners can aspire to as cosmopolitan consumers on the global stage.

12 For Heller, the commodification of language means a shift from a valuing of language for its basic communicative function and more emotive associations- national identity, cultural identity, the authentic spirit of a people and so on- to valuing it for what is means in the globalized, deregulated, hyper-competitive, post-industrial ‘new work order’ in which we now live (Gee, Hull and Lankshear, 1996; Cameron, 2002). In other words, it means a shift from language as use-value to language as exchange-value.

13 However, as Lash and Lury (2007: 6) note, commodities ‘have no relationships' and ‘they only have value in the way that they resemble every other commodity’. English as the consumer good called ‘global English’ is understood to be vaguely the same thing in different educational contexts around the world. It is the language for communication in business and leisure settings that everyone needs to know in the age of globalization. There arises, therefore, a need to bring English alive, to make it more attractive and ultimately more saleable. In order to inject commodities with life, advertisers brand them, i.e. they link them to particular world views, behaviours and artefacts, developing in the process narratives which over time become recognizable to the public as ways of life and lifestyle options that can be opted into or abandoned, depending on circumstances.

14 Cosmopolitanism ‘home plus’ (Hannerz ,1996)- the individual wants the place he/she is visiting to have one or two exotic attractions but for the most part wants everything else (e.g. the standard of accommodation, the transportation facilities, the nature and quality of services and in some cases, even the food) to be the same as it would be at home. Cultural cosmopolitanism should be understood as the capacity to mediate between national cultures, communities of fate (sic) and alternative styles of life. It encompasses the possibility of dialogue with traditions and discourses of others with the aim of expanding horizons of one’s own framework of meaning and prejudice. (Held, 2002: 57-58)

15 aesthetic cosmopolitanism
… an engagement with the ‘Other’ which goes deeper than the superficiality of Hannerz’s home-plus but does not attain moral high ground implied in Held’s ‘cultural cosmopolitanism’. This cosmopolitanism is driven by a desire to consume the ‘Other’- cuisine, sight-seeing, music, and cinema and so on- and is the domain with those members of society with sufficient economic capital to afford to do so

16 Success as central Success associated with celebrity
non-celebrities who are successful ‘A steady, durable and continuous, logically coherent and tightly structured working career is ... no longer a widely available option’ (Bauman, 2005: 27) ‘Clare Davis, 26, resigned from her job as a geography teacher in secondary school and started retraining as plumber’ … ‘Lorna Whitwort, 29, and husband Ian gave up their jobs in the city of London ... and moved to the country to run a small hotel ...’ (Cunningham and Moor, 2005: 52).

17 The conflation of the private and the public in ELT materials
Under the heading ‘Life stories’: Work in pairs. Have you got any brothers or sisters? In what ways are you similar/different? Which of your parents/grandparents do you take after? ... Under the heading: ‘Social behaviour’ You go out to a restaurant for dinner. Do you: a. dress up? b. wear smart casual clothes? C. wear traditional dress of your country? D. wear whatever you feel like?’ Under the heading: ‘How socially responsible are you?’ Would you ... hand in a wallet that you found in the street? ... park in a disabled parking space? ... drop litter? ...’ (Cunningham and Moor, 2005: 36, 74, 96)

18 Conclusion There is the idea that the ever-increasing inter-connectedness of the world, one of the most cited characteristics of globalization, means that the uptake of CLT/TBLT, the commodification of English as a necessary skill and the positioning of learners as cosmopolitan global citizens/ consumers is likely to continue and even increase in coming years But this idea rests on two assumptions: 1) that English will remain the global language. 2) that the Anglophone countries, in particular the US, will continue to exercise a considerable (though by no means complete) dominance over global forces and flows (technology, the media finance and so on)

19 However, US cultural, economic and political hegemony in the world could be on the wane along with many of the assumptions which people around the world have made over the past 60 years. There could be changes in store as regards the following: 1) what languages are most studied globally 2) how languages are taught 3) the kinds of teaching materials employed But, it may well be that no such changes occur. Far more likely, however, is a future falling somewhere in between these two alternatives: a more recognizably multipolar world (including grass-roots language teaching methodologies) than exists at present, but one in which the English language and the influence of the Anglophone nation states will continue to be important.

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