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TBLT 2009, Lancaster ‘Tasks: context, purpose and use’ 3rd Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching. Acknowledgements

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TBLT 2009, Lancaster‘Tasks: context, purpose and use’3rd Biennial International Conference on Task-Based Language Teaching


To Griselda Beacon, from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, for her useful insights and critical reading of the data in the pedagogic action research project funded by the Higher Education Academy, Subject Centre LLAS

Tasks using L2 literature for intercultural development

Leticia Goodchild

School of Language and Communication Studies

University of East Anglia


“Norma y Ester”

“El libro de los afectos raros” by Carlos Gamerro, Colección La Otra Orilla, Editorial Norma, 2005.

  • the intercultural dimension of language learning
  • stereotypes
  • binary opposites
  • action research project
  • data in Spanish
the plot
The plot
  • “Norma y Ester”
  • by Carlos Gamerro

the men in the story
The men in the story
  • Víctor treats women as if they only exist to satisfy his sexual needs. (Aude, French)
  • The men in the story see women as no more than prostitutes. They want to control, dominate and own them. They use them as objects. They even choose their clothes. If the women don’t obey them, they are cast aside. (Flora, English)
  • Víctor treats women as if they were his slaves. (Johnny, English)
the women in the story
The women in the story
  • Norma and Ester dress like prostitutes … the colours Norma uses don’t match with her make-up, which shows that she has no taste or sense of dress. (Sally, English)
  • I found the way the women in the story dress atrocious! We, English women, are a lot more conservative and dress with more style. (Elizabeth, English)
  • Norma and Ester are powerless. They are totally dominated and controlled by Víctor and el Gordo. (Linda, English)
phase one
Phase One
  • What experiences come to mind, are recalled or provoked by the reading of the story?
  • Did the students reflect on those experiences at the time they happened? Or did they just live through the experiences without analysing them or reflecting on them?
  • Have they thought critically of them and had a learning experience as a consequence?
autobiographical narratives
Autobiographical Narratives
  • Identify one preconceived notion in your assigned narrative that the students have of the Hispanic Other.

Argentinian men

Argentinian women

wear revealing clothes to please men

are weak, submissive, obedient, subservient and fragile

are not respected or listened to

lack self-confidence and so do not fight for their rights

are powerless in society

are discriminated against

  • treat women as sex objects
  • are promiscuous
  • feel sex is a natural need so they do not apologise for their behaviour
  • cannot control their actions or emotions due to this internal urge
  • do not take women’s feelings into account
binary opposites
Binary opposites

Most Latin American ...

Most European ...

men respect women

men take women’s emotions into account

women are elegant

women are strong and confident

women have a sense of dress

  • men disrespect women
  • men treat women like sex objects
  • women are vulgar
  • women are fragile and weak
  • women dress provocatively
about stereotypes
About stereotypes
  • There has been much discussion in recent times concerning the problems with stereotypes and essentialist models of culture. While varying degrees of cultural fixity are still projected in current thinking there seems to be a strong movement in the direction of seeing them as only starting points from which to explore complexity.
  • (Holliday, A. 2009. Foreword in Feng, A. Byram, M. & Fleming, M. Becoming Interculturally Competent through Education and Training)
what then can be done
What then can be done?
  • What pedagogical tasks can we design to reduce these cultural stereotypes and challenge the binary opposites?
  • How can we support students to move away from generalised views of cultural identity through TBLT?
  • What tasks can we design to challenge their dichotomous thinking and essentialist views of the cultural Other?
task goals
Task Goals
  • to raise awareness of learners’ own perceptions of the Other
  • to question their own assumptions and beliefs
  • to problematise their own worldview
  • to develop criticality
  • to consider the personal and contextual variables
  • to develop higher order thinking skills
  • to develop empathy
  • to foster tolerance for ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity
phase two
Phase Two
  • What did I do?
reflections on the data
Reflections on the data
  • Can you identify any altered schemata and/or different viewpoint(s) in the students’ comments?
emerging themes
Emerging themes
  • Reflections on the inner self
  • Changes of perspectives
  • Instances of transformation
  • Use of tentative language
  • Recognition of individual differences
  • Emotional impact
what next
What next?
  • more self-reflection
  • more cross-cultural analysis
  • more explicit teaching and learning of criticality.
  • more awareness that cultural identity is not fixed
  • more of a questioning attitude
  • more critical of their own personal responses
  • more critical of their own culture
the role of the intercultural teacher
The role of the intercultural teacher
  • […] is more interested in fault lines than in smooth landscapes, in the recognition of complexity and in the tolerance of ambiguity, not in the search for clear yardsticks of competence or insurances against pedagogical malpractice … understanding and shared meaning, when it occurs, is a small miracle, brought about by the leap of faith that we call ‘communication across cultures’. Language teachers are well aware of the difficulties of their task. But they often view these difficulties in dichotomous terms that unduly simplify the issues and prevent them from understanding the larger context.
  • Kramsch, C. (1993) Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford Applied Linguistics., pp. 2