Language teaching is presently a ‘service’ offered to the culture teacher, a service which is sometimes offered on-line, in order to meet the challenge of an ever-growing number of students. In order to investigate the ‘added value’ of e-learning the author carried out three focus groups with students of two Universities in Naples. These did not produce any convincing reasons in support of e-language learning but opened up two interesting threads for reflection. In their recurring request that interaction be incorporated into e-language learning the students seemed to confirm the centrality, in the language field, of the sociocognitive perspective, based on which language teaching should introduce the learners to authentic social situations. The answer to this in e-language learning is often the creation of virtual rooms where the students can meet and chat or the organisation of collaborative tasks amongst the students. However, how authentic or meaningful is it for the learners to use the foreign language to interact with same language learners and how far can the teacher monitor that all interactions be carried out in the target language? New virtual communities based on precise social rules originate on-line every day, discourse communities which could be analysed and studied by the students in order to absorb the communicative strategies which are necessary for effective membership. Participating to on-line realities students would experience how meaning is co-constructed amongst the different members of a community; they would be able to understand the limits of their Discourse maps (Gee 1999), which are the main causes of ‘intercultural’ misunderstanding. The second thread of research opened up by the focus groups is that learners can - consciously or unconsciously - make themselves accomplices in the enforcement of control and power administration in such on-line learning environments, and focus on critical reflection is the only instrument teachers have at their disposal to let them move “in and out of borders constructed around coordinates of difference and power” (Giroux 1992, 169). Problematisation of NCT use in class would ‘empower’ students if they are encouraged to examine ‘against the grain’ the frames imposed on websites and learning environments to realise they are never innocent; if they are encouraged to recognise their inner dissonances and asked to re-frame them, trying to re-write or parody them. This entails a new role for the language teacher: that of a public intellectual capable of making visible the multi-faceted nature of power; of encouraging every single student to articulate his/her history, his/her experiences, his/her meanings.

The teacher as a public intellectual: The Language teacher’s contribution to ‘intercultural’ education

DI MARTINO, Emilia
2006

Abstract

Language teaching is presently a ‘service’ offered to the culture teacher, a service which is sometimes offered on-line, in order to meet the challenge of an ever-growing number of students. In order to investigate the ‘added value’ of e-learning the author carried out three focus groups with students of two Universities in Naples. These did not produce any convincing reasons in support of e-language learning but opened up two interesting threads for reflection. In their recurring request that interaction be incorporated into e-language learning the students seemed to confirm the centrality, in the language field, of the sociocognitive perspective, based on which language teaching should introduce the learners to authentic social situations. The answer to this in e-language learning is often the creation of virtual rooms where the students can meet and chat or the organisation of collaborative tasks amongst the students. However, how authentic or meaningful is it for the learners to use the foreign language to interact with same language learners and how far can the teacher monitor that all interactions be carried out in the target language? New virtual communities based on precise social rules originate on-line every day, discourse communities which could be analysed and studied by the students in order to absorb the communicative strategies which are necessary for effective membership. Participating to on-line realities students would experience how meaning is co-constructed amongst the different members of a community; they would be able to understand the limits of their Discourse maps (Gee 1999), which are the main causes of ‘intercultural’ misunderstanding. The second thread of research opened up by the focus groups is that learners can - consciously or unconsciously - make themselves accomplices in the enforcement of control and power administration in such on-line learning environments, and focus on critical reflection is the only instrument teachers have at their disposal to let them move “in and out of borders constructed around coordinates of difference and power” (Giroux 1992, 169). Problematisation of NCT use in class would ‘empower’ students if they are encouraged to examine ‘against the grain’ the frames imposed on websites and learning environments to realise they are never innocent; if they are encouraged to recognise their inner dissonances and asked to re-frame them, trying to re-write or parody them. This entails a new role for the language teacher: that of a public intellectual capable of making visible the multi-faceted nature of power; of encouraging every single student to articulate his/her history, his/her experiences, his/her meanings.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12570/2957
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
social impact