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a self-discovering path into intercultural perception of self and the
Bridging the gap: a self-discovering
path into intercultural perception
of self and the other
Alessia Plutino & Alessia Cogo
University of Southampton
Aims
• What is Interculturality?
• Our project: “Reflections on Interculturality"
• Extracts from our blog
• Some conclusions and ideas for further
development
2
What is Interculturality?
TRADITIONALLY
SHIFT OF MEANING
NOWADAYS
• Cultural memberships or cultural differences seen
as something ‘one either has or does not have’.
Static, bounded and simplistic concept of ‘culture’
and ‘identity’. (Zhu Hua 2014:209)
• “Interculturality” now used to describe a more
fluid and complex view of ‘culture’ and
intercultural encounters.
• From “static” to “active”.
• From “being” to “doing” cultural
identities.
3
A more comprehensive approach
‘new
complexities
of diversity’
(Vertovec
2010:86)
“ Culturally
different = socially
constructed
phenomenon >
simultaneously
belong to different
categories, not all
equally relevant at
a given point ” (Zhu
Hua 2014:209)
‘culture’ as a verb –
an active process of
meaning making
(Street 1993:25)
4
Background and context
• Italian at University of Southampton > only language
modules, no content modules.
• Students reach high levels in language learning ( CEFR C2)
however > need to integrate more cultural aspects to
achieve a better understanding of the country as well as
Italians due to gap created by lack of specific content
modules.
5
Methodology
• 2 groups of students
Students of Italian L2
UK based, University of
Southampton
Intermediate level
Students of English L2
Italy based, University
of Salento
Intermediate level
In class
discussion
on specific
topics,
researching
info,
reading
Blog
comments
Tutor
initiated >
input
> Students
react to
stimulus and
express
opinions and
reflections on
topic
3rd phase
Info
2nd phase
1st phase
3 phases project
Oral
discussion
Skype
sessions on
topics covered
in class and
explored on
blog
7
Practical approach >
STUDENT
CENTRED
AUTONOMY
• students assimilate info and research on
specific topics
• students reflect about topic focusing on
their own experiences and cultural
backgrounds
• students elaborate content (oral/written)
discuss with partners, compare, exchange
info .
• independent learning and engagement
8
Computer-Mediated Communication
(CMC)
Asynchronous
CMC
Commenting on
project blog >
Synchronous
CMC
One to one
Skype sessions
• www.blog.soton.ac.uk/intcult
9
• Topics
• Internet language >
Borrowings from
English language
• Superstitions
• Stereotypes
• Advertising
• input >controversial
video of an Italian
journalist defending
his language against
English “invasion”
Analysis of extracts from “Internet
language >
• I think that Severgnini is right when he says
that many people use loan words and
calques in an unsuitable way. Nevertheless
in a global world, as the one we live in,
the idea of a language that refuses
elements of other linguistic codes and
cultures would be unrealistic.
11
• I am a person always ready to welcome the contact
with other cultures and languages -I think this is
essential nowadays - but what is certain is that when
two languages come into contact, one of them -the
strongest one- will dominate. And what seems very
clear to me is that English is dominating my
language. And this is extremely evident when we hear
words such as “forwardizzare” and “splittare”. In my
opinion, influences from other languages MUST be
welcomed in order to prove that it is a culture willing to
grow in an international dimension. But, at the same
time, why should we use English words to express
concepts already existing in our native language i.e.
(“forwardizzare” > “inoltrare”)???It is this our
mistake…
12
Student reflects and suggest a solution:
• If no Italian word is already useful to pass the message
through, one could use alternative ways to approach a
problem like this, for example use the Italian
construction “fare” (to do) + the foreign word. I
think that “fare un briefing”, “fare forward”, “fare split” are
much more easy words to use and understand both
by native and foreign italian speakers.
13
• In Francese per esempio, tutte le parole
non hanno soltanto le stesse radici ma sono
esattamente le stesse che in inglese. Le
parole non sono state cambiate, e si
usano adesso come se fossero parole
francesi. Mi piace questo, perche per
me, una lingua viva, e si sviluppa con
la mescolanza con altre lingue. Non
penso che sia un problema o un’ invasione di
lingue straniere. E adesso, il mondo cambia
velocemente, e dobbiamo essere capaci
14
di addatarci!
> Colombian background: intercultural .
Culturally different = simultaneously belonging
to different categories
• Sono testimone di come l’imperialismo
americano influenzi una lingua e imponga termini
brutti ad altre lingue. Nello spagnolo parlato
in Spagna parole come “ordenador”, “movil”, y
“estacionar” sono usate mentre nello spagnolo
latinoamericano (la versione che parlo io)
le parole equivalenti sono “computador”,
“cellular” y “parquear”.
15
• ... Questo per me e’ prova che e’ imperativo considerare
l’influenza degli Stati Uniti in qualsiasi dibattito dove si
parla di parole inglesi in altre lingue perche mentre la
Spagna e’ riuscita a conservare delle parole
‘tradizionali’ (non sto dicendo che non usano mai parole
inglesi pero’!), nell’America Latina, che ha molto piu’
contatto con gli Stati Uniti ed e’ molto controllata
economicamente e politicamente da loro, la lingua
si e’ adattata per accomodare piu’ lessico inglese
16
I am wearing more than one hat …
aligning and re-aligning as co-member of
a group
• Il fatto che l’inglese si e’ infiltrato nell’italiano (e
altre lingue che non sono legate geograficamente
con gli Stati Uniti) e’ il risultato di una forma di
integrazione a livello globale che vuol dire
che, sfortunatamente, alcune persone (come
Berlusconi) cedono all’illusione che dire qualche
parola inglese le fara’ sembrare piu’ colte. Il
peccato e’ che noi dobbiamo ascoltarlo...
17
Self-reflection path: insider identity is
challenged and re-orientated in
interactions (Zhu Hua 2014:209)
Self
General
Insider
18
For some topics (stereoptypes, Internet language) it
was clear from the beginning that students divided
themselves into groups with different views:
• L1>A rather
• L2 > An “insider”
• L1 >A more
defined and rigid
approach:
open minded/
approach,
reflecting about
flexible
expressing feeling
topic with
approach about
of anger,
shifting of
the topic,
dissatisfaction
identity based on
allowing
with own culture
one’s affiliations
flexibility and
and own
with L2
permeations of
country’s attitude
new ideas as well
towards the issue
as other cultures
and sometimes
19
points of view.
even shame.
What has worked so far?
• Student engagement in terms of responses on blog >
quite active and gained confidence after second topic.
• Students reflections on their own cultural background
and sharing their experiences to make a point about topics
discussed.
• Students felt relaxed and used a variety of tools to add
content to their posts (mainly links, but also poetry and real
life examples).
• Language acquisition not measured in details
• We noticed an improvement in written and oral
homework and assignments
20
What has not worked so well…
• Skype sessions > at the beginning some pairs had
difficulties in finding time to meet (different academic year
set up)
• However > students very willing to catch up in sem 2
• Tutor only had to “remind gently” the less active to post
comments, but this happened only few times.
21
It is early times to draw conclusions…
• What we are left to do …
• Skype session recordings > analysis of data
• Analysis of data from blog, student
questionnaires, final oral presentations
22
However …
• looking back at comments posted so far on
the blog > signs of spontaneous and natural
self-reflection taking place
• reactions /taking sides/positioning > the
idea that identity is dynamic > shifting of
identities based on one’s different
affiliations and self-conceptualization Ibrahim (2003, p.172)
23
• Grazie mille, any questions or
comments?
24
References
•
Hülmbauer, Böhringer & Seidlhofer. 2008. Introducing English as a Lingua
Franca (ELF): Precursor and Partner in Intercultural Communication.
Synergies Europe 3. 25-36.
•
Seidlhofer, B. 2011. Understanding English as a Lingua Franca. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
•
Vertovec, S. 2010. Towards post-multiculturalism? Changing communities,
conditions and contexts of diversity. International Social Science Journal, 61,
199.
•
Zhu Hua 2014. Exploring Intercultural Communication. London: Routledge.
•
Street, Brian 1993. Culture is a verb. Anthropological aspects of language and
cultural process. In D. Graddol, L. Thompson & M. Byram (eds) Language and
Culture. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 23-43.
•
Ibrahim A. (2003) “Whatssup homeboy?” joining the African diaspora: Black
English as a symbolic site of identification and language Learning. In S Makoni,
G. Smitherman, A.F. Ball, and A.K.Spears(eds), Black linguistics: Language,
society, and politics in Africa and the Americas (pp169-85). London & NY :
Routledge.
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