ERG SES C 12, Language and Education
- To investigate the application of the ABC’s of Cultural Understanding and Communication in Irish and German Foreign Language School Settings
- To what extent can the ABC’s model be applied in a foreign language context in order to develop cultural awareness?
- How do Irish students perceive themselves and their own culture?
- How do Irish students perceive their German partner and his/her culture?
- What role does language play?
In this research study I explore the extent to which the ABC’s model of Cultural Understanding and Communication (Schmidt, 1998; Finkbeiner & Koplin, 2002) enables foreign language learners to understand and appreciate their own culture and the target language culture through intercultural discourse and cooperation using online communication tools. This research project is situated in two foreign language classes at secondary schools in Ireland and Germany. Participants are aged between 14-16 years.
Integrating intercultural learning projects into classroom practice can provide opportunities where learners learn from and about each other, where each individual can embark on a journey of discovery about themselves and their partner from another culture. A central aspiration of my research project is to provide participants with opportunities through peer dialogue to gain cultural knowledge via the intercultural learning model: ABC’s of Cultural Understanding and Communication.
Research undertaken to date on the use of the ABC’ s model with students from different cultures points to the existence of potential for teachers to use a structured approach such as the ABC’s to enable their students engage in a step by step cultural learning process which can culminate in deeper understandings an new insights gleamed for the reciprocal exchanges which may came about by means of this approach to intercultural learning (Finkbeiner, 2006; Finkbeiner & Schmidt, 2006; Finkbeiner & Koplin, 2002; Wilden,2008; Schmidt, 1998).
This research study consists of foreign language classes in Ireland and Germany engaging in the exchange of beliefs, attitudes and cultural information with a representative from a different culture. Participants in the study carry out the steps of the ABC’s model as part of an online cultural school exchange project. The ABC’s model may prove to be a promising useful for teachers to use with their students to foster intercultural understanding. The research will investigate whether participants in this cross- cultural project learn to collaborate and share each other’s knowledge and co-construct cultural knowledge.
The topic of this research is of relevance to the area of foreign language education, cultural studies and citizenship education as it examines the potential of the ABC’s model of Cultural Understanding and Communication to provide young language learners with exposure to the target culture while they remain in their own classrooms in different countries.
The two classrooms are connected via the European e-learning platform, which is an imitative of e-Twinning in European schools which seeks to improve cooperation and communication between schools in Europe. Through the completion of the steps of the ABC’s model, participants take part in an intercultural online learning journey while remaining in their home environment rather than in face-to-face environments. They complete activities in order to help them develop cultural awareness. Participants reflect on culturally constructed perspectives (self and other “alien” perspectives) as well as images of their own and other cultures. The aim is to guide participants in the gaining of an appreciation of the role of socially and culturally constructed perceptions in how the world is understood. Ideally if participants can develop a “third perspective” to enable them to mediate between the different perspectives they experience, the project will fulfil an important goal (Bredella, 2003; Kramsch, 1993, 1995, 2004).
Boeije, H. (2010) Analysis in Qualitative Research. London: Sage. Bredella, L. (2003) For a Flexible Model of Intercultural Understanding. In A. Geof, M. Byram & M. Fleming (Eds.). Intercultural Experience and Education. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Byram, M. (1997) Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Creswell, J.W. (1998) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. London: Sage Finkbeiner, C. & Koplin, C. (2000) Handlungsorientiert Fremdverstehen lernen und lehren. In Der fremdsprachliche Unterricht, 44/ 53, 254-261. Finkbeiner, C. & Koplin, C. (2001) Fremdverstehensprozese und interkulturelle Prozesse als Forschungsgegenstand. In A. Müller-Hartmann & M. Schocker-V. Ditfurth (Eds.). Qualitative Forschungsansätze im Bereich Fremdspracchen lehren und lernen. Tübingen: Narr. Finkbeiner, C. & Koplin, C. (2002) A cooperative approach for facilitating intercultural education. In Reading Online 6 (3), pp. 1-19. Available: www.readingonline.org/newliteracies/lit_index.aso?HREF=finkbeiner/index.html (Retrieved 5.10.2002). Geertz,C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books. Kramsch, C. (1998) Lanugage and Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kramsch, C. (1998) The privilege of the intercultural speaker. In M. Byram & M. Fleming (Eds.), Language Learning in Intercultural Perspective: approaches through drama and ethnography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kramsch, C. (1996) The Cultural component of Language Teaching. In: Zeitschrift für Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht Online, 1 (2), 13 pp. Available: Http://www.ualberta.co/~german/ejournal/kramsch2.htm (Retrieved 02.03.2000). Kramsch, C. (1993) Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. O’Dowd, R. (2003) Understanding the “other side“: intercultural learning in a Spanish-English e-mail exchange. Language Learning & Technology, 7, (2), pp 1-29. Available: http:IIt.msu.edu/vol7num2/odowd/default.html (Retrieved 14.08.2003). Schmidt, P.R., Finkbeiner, C. (eds.), (2006) ABC's of Cultural Understanding and Communication: National and International Adaptions. Grennwich: IAP Schmidt, P.R. (1999) Focus on research: Know Thyself and Understand Others. In Language Arts, 76(4), 332-340. Schmidt, P. R. (1998a) The ABCs of Cultural Understanding and Communication. Equity & Excellence in Education, 31(20), 28-38. Schmidt, P.R. (1998b) The ABCs Model: Teachers connect home and school. In T. Shanahan & F.V. Rodriguez-Brown (Eds.). Forty-seventh yearbook of the National Reading Conference. Chicago, Il: National Reading Conference. Schmidt, P.R. (1998c) The ABC's Model: Teachers connect home and school. In National Reading Conference Yearbook, 47, 194-208. Chicago: National Reading Conference. Wilden, E. (2008) Selbst- und Fremdwahrnehmung in der interkulturellen Onlinekommunikation: Das Modell der ABC's of Cultural Understanding and Communication Online. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Yin, R.K. (2003) Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 3rd ed. London: Sage.
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