1. English 343
Cross-cultural issues in TESOL: Examining cross-cultural
practices in the context of teaching English as a global language
Dr. Lisya Seloni
Department of English
2. Learning to teach is not just about learning a body of knowledge and
techniques; it is also about learning to work in complex sociopolitical and
cultural political space and negotiating ways of doing this with our past
histories, fears, and desires; our own knowledges and cultures; our
students’ wishes and preferences; and the institutional constrains and
Alan Luke from Critical Pedagogies and Language Learning
Who are we?—Introduction through “Six Words Memoir” activity
Why are we here?—Course objectives, course materials,
assignments, course blog.
Reading the syllabus
Essentialist and non-essentialist views of culture
Personal definition of culture
Assignments for next week
4. Six word memoir
For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.—Hemingway
Lost voice. Gone to find it.
Suddenly everyone seems younger than me.
Mother, teacher, writer. In this order.
My resolutions melted faster than snow.
Well, I am still here, are you?
5. Why are we here? What do we hope to
develop a culturally sensitive vision of TESOL which de-centralized and
de-colonize knowledge and English language teaching.
examine macro issues such as language ideologies, multilingualism,
language policies and planning.
examine micro issues such as classroom interactions, participation
patterns and cross-cultural issues in curriculum and material
obtain an understanding on issues such as cultural assimilation, cultural
globalization, otherization and how these apply to language learning and
understand the intersection of race, class, gender and ethnicity in the
analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and interpretations, and
engage in scholarly dialogues about different theories of language and
6. Some critical questions we will
tackle this semester:
What is culture? What is the relationship between language and
What are some of the different perspectives in defining culture?
Why does culture matter in English language teaching?
What culture do we teach when we teach English as an
Are there privileged/underprivileged cultures that enhance
ESL/EFL learning and teaching?
What are ESL/EFL teachers‟ role in promoting culturally sensitive
7. Reading the syllabus
Class Blog: http://crossculturalissuesintesol.blogspot.com/
Class Blog from Spring 2012:
Take about 5 minutes to skim through the syllabus: What
questions do you have so far?
8. Definitions of culture
Compose your definition of culture (e.g. write, draw, act)
Culture is like ____________________
Share in your answers with your group. Discuss why
culture matters in language teaching.
10. Five dimensions of culture
11. The iceberg of culture
Big C Small c
Big C: “classic or grand themes” (Peterson, 2004, p. 25)-visible
Small c: “minor or common themes”-invisible
12. Essentialist vs non-
essentialist views on culture
Essentialist view of culture Non-essentialist view of culture
Culture as a noun: It has a specific Culture as a verb: Societies display
entity. It‟s homogeneous. complex characteristics which are hard
to pin down. Culture as “unbounded,
kaleidoscopic and dynamic” (Heath &
People in one culture essentially Cultures flow as people intermingle.
different from people in another Cultures have blurred boundaries
People belonging exclusively to one People can belong to and move through
national/linguistic/cultural group multiplicity of cultures within and
For successful communication with Understanding the complexity of who
someone foreign, we must first the person is. Moving beyond media
understand the details and stereotype representations. Being open minded
of their culture. and ready to problemitize
13. Group discussion
In your group, read the chart on essentialism and non-
essentialism. What strikes you as important, eye-
opening? What examples can you give representing both
sides of the chart?
Open a blog account
Create a first entry
Send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday morning .
Readings and blog assignment for MLK day.
15. Books are available @Alamo!
Class readings are available in digital reserve. Bring them with you in each class.
Class Blog: http://crossculturalissuestesol.blogspot.com/
Learning log contents (550 words minimum—2 pages, double space):
1) Summary of the articles
2) Your reflections, critique.
3) Connection to your own teaching and learning experiences
4) Further questions
Recommended: Bring a copy of your blog entry/critical response paper to class each week.
16. Two paradigms
Small Cultures: any cohesive group with Large Cultures: Essential differences
no subordination between ethnic, international and
Non-essentialist, non-culturist Essentialist
No ONION SKIN RELATIONSHIP, No Small and subcultures are subordinate to
necessary subordination large cultures
Interpretive, ongoing: a process of Normative, static: social world is divided
(re)making in fixed categories
“The world is made up of a vast complex “Mutually exclusive types of behaviors
of shifting, overlapping , swirling, connected with nationality”—African
combining and splitting cultures” culture, Chinese culture…Culture is a
(Holliday,2005) geographical place.
Atkinson (1999) writes:
“ all human beings exist in multiple social worlds, have
multiple social allegiances, and play multiple social
roles—all of which are continuously changing”
(p.643)What are some of the social allegiances you bring
to your profession? What small cultures do you identify?
Focus on one of them and discuss what discernable set
of behaviors is characteristic of this small culture.
National stereotypes are acknowledged as problematic but remain as
Us-them overgeneralizations are made such as “While the west focuses
more on the learning process as a means in itself, the Chinese tradition
is more oriented in learning outcomes”
A sense of uncrossable boundaries: “members of different cultures have
certain beliefs, values and practices which suit them”.
Cultural essentialism is not only practices by West: People from the
east and the South also essentialize their own cultural identities.,
through the display of traditional dress, dances, rituals…tpo maintain
and acquire power. “Exaggeration of Self to suit people‟s perception of
other can help one to gain acceptance (Holliday et. al, 2004)
19. How can we avoid the trap of over-generalization?
By Deconstructing images and representations and
engaging in a dialogue on the critical intersections:
20. Recent examinations of
Post-modern/post structural: Culture is no neatly packaged
entities. They are NOT exclusive bodies of customs, values and
thoughts. They are NOT perfectly shared by all who subscribe to
Contact zone: The social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and
grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of
power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they
lived out in many parts of the world today”. (Pratt, 1991, p. 34)—
bordercrossing/borderlands by Andaldua.
Cultures as travelling (Clifford): Unrooted, permeable, ever-
developing and changing.
21. Subjectivity, Agency,
Various social forces and their possible implications on our identities. Personhood is
fragmented and conflicting (conflicting ways of looking and being in the world)
People are NOT simply members of homogenous, unified cultural groups. They come from
a particular class/ethnic/national/political/religious/sexual/educational/racial
The will of individuals, especially those in positions of disempowerment to decide their own life
courses. The ability of individuals to resist the influence of dominant ideologies and discourses.
Power is diffused throughout the social world. The groups who have power in the society also
define and represent culture in ways that tend to benefit them and promote as natural their own
22. Six principles of culture
1. All humans are individual
2. Individuality is also cultural
3. Social group membership and identity are multiple, contradictory,
4. Social Group membership is consequential.
5. Methods of studying cultural knowledge and behavior are unlikely
to fit a positivist paradigm.
6. Language (learning and teaching) and culture are mutually
implicated, but culture is multiple and complex.
What do these statements mean? What are the implications for TESOL?
23. Holliday et. al. book: B.0.1:
Culture and community in
Hannerz writes “We have an old habit of speaking about „cultures,
the plural form, as if it were self-evident that such entities exist side
by side as neat packages, each of us identified with only one of
them—this is indeed a time-worn implication of at least one
Bauman also writes that people see themselves “ as members of
several communities at once, each with its own culture, and that
making one‟s life meant ranging across them.
In looking back at notes you made in identifying your small cultures, do
you see any overlaps, cross-cutting allegiances or hierarchical orders?
How does your own life mean “ranging across” these communities?
What are the significant parts of your own “personal cultural repertoire”
as in-service and pre-service language educators?
24. Discussion: Definitions of
Which, if any, of the descriptions do you feel successfully
captures the complete of a partial meaning of culture? (p. 69)
1) A culture is “a text the vocabulary and grammar of which its
members learn” (Fay, 1996)
2) “Culture is a verb” (Street, 1991)
3) Culture is an “evolving connected activity, not a thing”. (Fay,
4) Believing…that man is an animal suspended in webs of
significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those
webs (Geertz, 1973)
I will begin with discussing the difference between essentialist and nonessensitalist schools of thought in the concept of culture. Unfortunately essentialist views still sit at the center of common perceptions of culture both in academy and in our everyday life. Basically essentialist views of culture says that people’s behaviors are essentially defined by and constrained by the culture in which they live…So the stereotypes we hear becomes the essence of who they are.We usually associate culture with a specific set of values and believes that define and sometimes constrain people’s ways of behaving , thinking, writing and speaking. However this view of culture does not really hold truth when we look at the hybridity and multiplicity of discourses, languages varieties and cultures we come across within a society. This view really comes from our nationalistic views which divides the countries into mutually exclusive national cultures. So, we get to hear people say “European culture, Black culture, Japanese culture” The problem with this view is that it does ignore the fact that people in the globalized world do not live in confined communities. So regardless of national boundaries, cultures change and flow. They are never static and unchanging.If you are not born in the U.S. like me and came here in your young adulthood, you will get this a lot. People will ask you “so, what culture do you come from?” You are from Turkey that must be why you are writing or speaking in this manner. No matter how long you live in one place, you will always be Turkish, Italian, Japanese” The problem with this view really is that it perceived people as almost agentless bodies who doesn’t have much choice over how they behave, Their behaviors will always be confined by where they originally come from. People really can belong to and move across multiplicity of cultures. So, you learn as time goes not to give a detailed response when someone jist asks you “ what’s up? How are you doing”—This one is especially important for language educators—we have to understand that students do not necessarily conform to the stereotypes of where they come from. If we meet a Middle Eastern women, we need to remember that she may not conform to the stereotypes that we often see in the media, which 1) she considers false and ignorant representation of who she is as a person 2) she may be quite different to what you are expecting her to be…
Small cultures: non-essentialist in that it does not relate to the essence of ethnic, national entites.—when there is a discernable characteristics of a group: a group of TESOLers, a group of conference goers, a neighborhoodLarge cultures: it aims to explain behaviors in terms of ones ethicity and nationality—Small cultures are more concerned with social processes.
We will deconsturct the images and representations we see in language education (media, textbooks, standards, beliefs by etc.)
Political movement in reaction to modernism. Postmodern perspectives were born in early 21stcentur. —it rejects only one objective truthRealities are social consrtructs and therefore are subject to change. It emphasizes the role of language, power relations, repfresentation, difference and agency. And, it basically attacts binary dichotomizations such as native speaker—nonative speaker, male vs female, white vs black…it holds realities to be plural and multiple. Philosohers and weriters associated with this paradigm include Jacques Derrida, Samuel Kuhn, Michel Foucault. iN literature: samuelbackett, ernesthemingway, Franz Kafka
African-Americans, women, disabled, gays, learners if ESL,