The question of culture: EFL teaching in non-English-speaking countries

ELT Journal 01/1984; 38:14-20. DOI: 10.1093/elt/38.1.14
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    ABSTRACT: Since the disintegration in the eighteenth century of their once-mighty ‘Kingdom’ of Lan Xang, the ethnic Lao have maintained a struggle for political and cultural independence against waves of foreign dominance. Over the centuries, the Lao have faced the cultural hegemony of their linguistic cousins the Siamese, the territorial ambitions of the Vietnamese, the ethnocentrism of French colonialists, and the cataclysmic anti-communist imperialism of the United States of America. In this more peaceful era, Lao articulation of their worldview remains constrained by powerful external forces. Engaging in debates within critical development studies and applied linguistics, and drawing on understandings from sociology, this inter-disciplinary study examines how the cultural hegemony of the past is perpetuated in the dominant development discourse and, in turn, enacted at project level. With a particular development assistance project serving as a lens for viewing broader development issues, the study ultimately presents a glimpse of an alternative development possibility. The study thus adds to the voices of those who argue against the exclusive Eurocentric view of modernity, and for the possibility of what Tu Wei-ming (1999) refers to as ‘multiple modernities’. Beginning with an examination of the Buddhist-legitimated socio-political organisation of the pre-colonial Lao, based primarily on the work of Martin Stuart- Fox (1998), the study argues that the pre-colonial worldview has continued to inform the values and actions of the ethnic Lao throughout their history of foreign domination, and despite the more recent political embracing of Marxism-Leninism. Drawing on the work of critical development theorists such as Escobar (1984; 1995a; 1995b), Tucker (1997a; 1999) and Munck and O’Hearn (1999), and illustrated with Lao examples, the study then examines the disjunctions between these values and those of the dominant development discourse with its roots in the Eurocentric notion of modernity, and its current neo-liberal economic agenda. The theme of disjunction features throughout this study, which centres on an AusAID-funded project in the Lao PDR aimed at implementing a competency-based English language curriculum for Lao government officials. As well as the disjunction between Lao values and those of the dominant development discourse, the thesis includes a practitioner’s first-hand insight into the disjunctions between Lao values and the curriculum model, and between the project design and Lao social reality. However, a major aim of this ethnographic study is to give voice to Lao stakeholders at policy, management and classroom levels. Their voices are woven into a series of narratives through which we are afforded insights into the disjunctions between Lao and donor priorities. As a result of these disjunctions, as the three-year AusAID project drew to a close the Lao demonstrated a commitment to the program but revealed a range of political, cultural and pedagogical factors which threatened its stability and ultimate sustainability. These Lao stories, together with those articulating the unfolding of events over the ensuing eighteen months, exemplify the conflict inherent in development assistance. On the one hand the accounts reveal how the unequal balance of power works to stifle the articulation of worldviews other than that of the dominant West, and how development workers inadvertently perpetuate the discourse’s ‘regime of truth’ (Foucault, 1980) that holds the Lao worldview irrelevant in a ‘modern’ world. On the other hand, we hear through the Lao voices how the agency of local stakeholders subverts the imposition of values, so that the English language program better reflects Lao priorities. As the thesis demonstrates, the subversion is in the form of a Buddhist-infused ‘middle way solution’ to the culturally problematic values underpinning the competency-based curriculum, which effectively restructures the approach to fit within acceptable, albeit modified, socio-cultural boundaries. The solution provides a tool for the analysis of the appropriateness of the curriculum model, the project design and, ultimately, the dominant development discourse for the Lao context. Standing as a metaphor for diverse possibilities, the Middle Way Solution suggests the need for development donors and practitioners to engage reflexively in our own practice, and offers a distinctly Lao alternative to the dominant discourse.
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    ABSTRACT: In this experimental study which is based on qualitative and quantitative data collection from an experimental and a control group, it has been found that when some educational terms in English Language Teacher Training programs are strengthened in meaning through some adaptations to better convey the message, their effectiveness is increased. Therefore, it is suggested that foreign or second language teachers in the Asia-Pacific region should not teach the target language only for linguistic and communicative purposes but also to introduce characteristics of different cultures and to contribute to educating people who enjoy similarities, respect differences and value human rights.
    Asia Pacific Education Review 07/2008; 9(3):344-354. · 0.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2004. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 174-186). Also available by subscription via World Wide Web ix, 186 leaves, bound 29 cm


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May 30, 2014