Digital Media and Culture. Counter Stereotypes about Foreign Cultures by Using Weblogs in the EFLC


Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2016
21 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Excerpt

Table of Contents

List of Figures

1. Introduction

2. New Media in the English Foreign Language Classroom

3 Defining “Weblogs”, Their Features and Applications
3.1 Features and Functions of Weblogs
3.2 Possible Applications of Weblogs

4. Why Teaching with Weblogs? - Potentials and Skills
4.1 Communicative Skills
4.2 Cultural Awareness through Weblogs as a Key Competency

5. Teaching Own and Foreign Stereotypes by Weblogs
5.1 Introduce the Blog
5.2 Teaching Unit
5.2.1 First Teaching Lesson
5.2.2 Second Teaching Lesson
5.3 Competencies and Learning Targets
5.3.1 Intercultural Communicative Competence
5.3.2 Text- and Media Literacy
5.3.3 Language Awareness

6. Conclusion

Works Cited

List of Figures

Figure 1 - Intercultural Communicative Competence. Adapted from Byram, Michael. “Teaching and Assissing Intercultural Communicative Compezence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 1997. p. 34

Figure 2 - Stereotypes about Germans. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

Figure 3 - My Personal Values. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

Figure 4 - Canadian Pride. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

Figure 5 - Travelling and Cultures. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

Figure 6 - Stay Motivated. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

Figure 7 - Overlapping of Personal and Canadian Values of Life. Author´s own graph (29 Jun. 2016)

1. Introduction

New media – especially the personal computer – playa significant part in people´sprivate area as well as in the occupational area. Thus, there is talk about transition of industrial society into an information society. Such transition has been fulfilled since the end of the 1960s and includes a digitalized and interconnected world for the greatest extend (Bastiaens et al 2012: 11). Those changes affect the whole everyday reality; an increasingly number of the population spend their time in front ofmonitors inside a virtual reality. The internet and mobile devices facilitate communication with both, familiar and unknown people all over the world. For the young generation – the so called “digital natives” – the constantly networking and opportunity of gaining knowledge easily became obviously.

Furthermore, the kind of learning has changed as well. Due to the digitalized world knowledge is not only represented differently but also accessible at any place and is not bound to a personal producer or mediator. The digital learners should not “consume” rehashed knowledge anymore but, need to be able to have the ability to use available knowledge and information, screen those usefully and thus, reach efficient learning outcomes. Hence, media literacy becomes a key qualification to participate in the information society (Bastiaens et al 2012: 13).

In the course of lifelong learning and concomitant increasingly compulsion to flexibility of learning, weblogs as a form of e-learning can represent an efficient media to realize a new culture of teaching and learning since contents are spread independently from place and time and are made available for the recipients.Besides, the access to blogs created by people and companies all over the world enables an absorption and participation in foreign cultures, values and perceptions by the digital learners. Blogs make our society more interconnected and self-aware (Stevens 2010).

By considering the aspects of education and intercultural learningwritten in the scholastic standards, it is necessary to examine blogs concerning their features and potentials, possible applications in the English foreign language classroom and finally, to provide theory into a practical and realistic teaching unit of a 11th grade at a German advanced level of a high school.

2. New Media in the English Foreign Language Classroom

A learner in the twenty-first century may have an extraordinary selection of inducements for learning a foreign language compared to the learner of the previous pre-Internet era. These tools, limited earlier millennium to paper (books, copybooks, letters, diaries), video or audio recordings, have been developing since 1990s. The burst of technological development, especially the advent of the Internet, has largely affected the area of foreign language education, where the application of multimedia might be viewed within the domain of computer assisted language learning (CALL), understood originally as “the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning” (Levy1997: 15). As Szyszka reports:

Although this process may be performed with or without an overt user’s intention to learn a foreign language, EFL learners are aware that a range of multimedia may be used as a medium in social communication or as a tool to get information in a target language” (2014: 4).

The data of the 2009 PISA report (Wastlau-Schlüter, 2005) shows that less than 1 % of students taking part in the study have never used a computer. Therefore, it is assumed that nearly all adolescent European foreign language learners have already been in contact with a computer. Beyond, “digital-natives” are able to use information and communications technology (ICT) not only to learn and work but also to socialise, to get information and to entertain (Stevens 2010). In other words, adolescent EFL learners constitute the age group particularly prone to purposefully exploiting the multimedia and technological applications for international communication and learning, which may directly or indirectly lead to the development of their foreign language skills. Barbara Bray claims that:

With more people and crowded conditions, new technologies will be necessary to support and sustain us. Video, audio, images, and interactive features open doors to worlds and cultures that children could never learn in a book. […]. It is [teacher´s] duty as educators to guide students and other educators as they become innovative producers, teach them to become cautious consumers, and learn how they can use these tools to reach their fullest potential. Furthermore, it is necessary to […] value each other’s culture. [Designed digital ways are able] to connect us not only to each other but to promote our values, to respect each other, and to encourage innovation as we develop a place for ourselves in the 21st century. (2007)

3 Defining “Weblogs”, Their Features and Applications

Weblogs – for short Blogs – is a term for public and chronologically conducted reports about the publisher´s adventures or comments about events of the day published in the World Wide Web. Originally, weblogs, which were originated in the 1990s, concerned text media, which has been extended to video-, photo- and audio blogs within the progressive technical development. Different typologies of blogs, as art blogs, audio blogs, blogs for occupational or educational purposes as well as economic blogs show that weblogs do not appeal to the common run of mankind but, especially to target groups.

Any person with basic computer skills and an Internet connection is able to publish on, archive and interact on blogs (Williams & Jacobs, 2004). Participants interact in their roles as blog writers, readers and reviewers; they write entries and respond to criticism from peers (Pinkman, 2005).

3.1 Features and Functions of Weblogs

Furthermore, the form of communication is remarkable. Quite apart from a blog´s thematic priority an individualization of the communication form is recognizable. The blog´s author has the opportunity of presenting his or her own writing style; the blog´s length and formulation are not bound to any rules, likewise are linking and networking on the author´s own responsibility. Despite ongoing changes and various fields of application the predominant part of all blogs – besides commercial blogs – is written privately. In the following, only the private purpose is going to be observed with regard to its features (Williams& Jacobs 2004: 241).

Since the development of the Web 2.0 and its involved functions of social connections and active co-creation of contents even social functionalities of the weblog have gained in importance. Basically, a blogger writes so-called “posts”, which are published as items in his or her blog and, as already mentioned, are structured chronologically reversed. Thus, a reader can easily recognize which post is the latest (Williams& Jacobs 2004: 242). By “permalinks” single entries of other bloggers can be called by reference without hyperlinking the whole blog. Another remarkable feature of blogs is the comment area. Besides own items other users and readers are provided an opportunity to comment on the items. In this way, items can be both criticized but also extended. By “RSS Feeds” readers can subscribe feeds and follow single entries and items. Besides features of a blog, offered by the weblog-software, the functions and especially possible applications are going to be determined (Blackstone et al 2007: 7).

3.2 Possible Applications of Weblogs

The most popular fields of application are personal diaries, learning diaries, tools for knowledge management, e-portfolios, discourse media and tools for educational purposes to provide media literacy, to name but a few. The most common application is still the private blog. Private blogger report in the form of an online-diary about their lives or certain topics chosen from their lives. These blog entries involve subjective experiences and opinions. Beside private usage blogs take on a significant role in the field of education. Digital learners may use the platform as an informational facility which provide the users the advantage to comment on blog entries and thus, to communicate not only with the author but also with other users and to discuss with them about contents, which is specified in the following chapter (Oberle 2014).

4. Why Teaching with Weblogs? - Potentials and Skills

4.1 Communicative Skills

When a language teacher introduces blogging activities within the languageclassroom, the opportunities for student interaction in that “learning space” (Williams & Jacobs 2004: 232) are expanded exponentially, providing student writers with a large audience both within and outside the classroom. According to Darabi: The core principles of learning communities focus on integration of curriculum, active learning, student engagement, and student responsibility [...] (2006: 53). Blogging activities realize these principles. When students write entries and comment on the entries of their peers, blogs become an integral part of a lively literacy community. Students can post on such topics as journal or diary entries, reflections on their writing process, details on their research projects, commentary on recent events or readings, and drafts for other writing they are doing (Blackstone et al 2007: 2).

Once a student posts an entry, the whole class is able to provide supportive feedback, and offer additional suggestions or perspectives. By writing and commenting on blogs, students do not write just for their teachers but particularly for real reader of a blog. As a result, students´ main priority by interacting with weblogs is clear communication and to get immediate feedback. Dieuasserts this by stating that blogging gives a learner the chance to maximize focused exposure to language in new situations, peer collaboration, and contact with experts (2004: 26). This combination of planned and spontaneous communicative exchanges inside and out of the classroom makes blogging a meaningful and engaging social exercise. It is within this context that Williams and Jacobs argue that blogging has the potential to be a transformational technology for teaching and learning (Blackstone et al 2007: 2).

4.2 Cultural Awareness through Weblogs as a Key Competency

In order to explain the upcoming teaching unit, it is necessary to briefly explain the rather complex topic of Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC). In 1997 Michael Byram established a new model about how ICC works and skills it includes (see Fig. 1). The combinations of the following five skills represents the concept of ICC: In the context of ICC “attitudes” describe the mindset one person has about another. Mostly, these mindsets are overwhelmed with prejudices or stereotypes, which is the central topic of the upcoming teaching unit(Byram 1997: 31). Therefore, the impression and a successful communication is poisoned. The key to overcome the stereotypical way of thinking is to decentre yourself, to detach from your former attitude in order to experience something new.

Beyond this, Byram separates the second domain, “knowledge” into two parts: mainly the society-knowledge and secondly the individual knowledge. He claims that the relationship towards a certain topic determines whether you as a learner can take the knowledge for granted in a specific situation. So knowledge is always situation-dependent. Another important domain of ICC are the skills themselves (Byram 1997: 35).

The skills “interpret and relate” and “discover and/or interact” are essential in order to become an expert in communicating with people from another culture. Not only it is necessary to interpret and relate but also to detach yourself from fear of stereotypical thinking in order to discover new aspects and interact with other cultures. Therefore, it is important to leverage yourselffrom prejudices and to emphasize with people from another culture for the purpose of changing a perspective and explore new aspects (Byram 1997: 37).

Finally, the educational process is a significant point because political education can arise a lot of prejudices and stereotypes but is also capable of the spelling system.It is also extreme reveal to provide a possibility for raising conscious, critical, cultural awareness for students. The bottom line is that the concept of ICC is probably the most promising key to overcome prejudices which is necessary to participate in the contemporary English foreign language classroom (Byram 1997: 54).

Figure 1 - Intercultural Communicative Competence.Adapted from Byram, Michael. “Teaching and Assissing Intercultural Communicative Compezence. Clevedon:Multilingual Matters. 1997. p. 34

illustration not visible in this excerpt

How the concept of ICC is transferred to the conceptualized teaching unit is presented in section 5.3.1.

5. Teaching Own and Foreign Stereotypes by Weblogs

5.1 Introduce the Blog

The blog created on www.wordpress.com[1] allows an insight into and participation in the life and lifestyle of a young Canadian man, student and traveller. Beside typical every-day questions as “My Typical Week and Typical Weekends” and “Typical Canadian Food” the author also writes about profound topics like his personal values and motivations in life as well as “Canadian Pride”. The single blog posts are listed non-chronologically; thus, the readers can easily recognize which post is the latest and thereby follow the author´s latest experiences. The main function of this private type of blogs is to present and share the author´s experiences to the world. Hence, the single posts enable to the readers to learn about the author´s culture, get to know a real Canadian and hopefully, to recognize parallels to their own lives and to put prejudices behind one.

5.2 Teaching Unit

The teaching unit is designed for an 11th grade of a German high school (gymnasialeOberstufe) and focusses in general on own (German) and foreign – in this case Canadian – stereotypes and enables students to gain cultural awareness and understanding of Canadian culture, to explore the concept of personal identity as a framework for exploring national identity and to examine and recognize the symbols that represent and reflect “us” and “others” as a nation. Furthermore, this teaching unit demonstrates an understanding of Canadian identity (through history, authentic stories, symbols) and illustrates way to the students in which Canada’s identity is commonly represented through official and unofficial national symbols.

Since stereotypes and prejudices often exist about unknown cultures, countries and social groups and are based on rough and often negative generalizations, teaching with a blog affords the foreign language learners direct contact and access to the culture. Consequently, students will make their own experiences, become open-minded and will be confronted with their own stereotypes as well. The teaching unit, which is closely related to the blog by an authentic Canadian author is thought-provoking about Canadian stereotypes and shows in addition parallels to the students´ own lives.

5.2.1 First Teaching Lesson

This teaching unit preoccupies two teaching lessons á 90 minutes. The first lesson contains an introduction to the topic of “stereotypes”, starting with a definition using the method THINK-PAIR-SHARE. After collecting definitions in plenary assembly the students are supposed to think about what German stereotypes and characteristics from their side of view are. To answer this question, the students get together in groups of 4-5 and collect all thoughts about “German stereotypes” and structure them by using superordinates. Finally, the foreign language learners illustrate their ideas on a well-structured mind map and present the mind maps in circulation. The presentation of each student should take no longer than 3 minutes. In this way the teacher ensures that every student presents the mind map and strengthen both, his or her language skills and presenting skills. After the “circulating-presentation” the teacher proposes six questions for discussion:

1. Is it hard to describe who you are as a German person? Why or why not?
2. Which type of characteristic did you list the most? (Read each category and have students raise hands.)
3. Do you think that if we posted these descriptions around the classroom we would be able to identify each other easily? Whatkindofcharacteristicswouldbeeasiesttoidentify?
4. Are the ones that are easiest to recognize the ones that are most important? Whyorwhy not?
5. If we removed anything about appearance, could we recognize each other from these descriptions?
6. What makes each of us unique?

By answering these questions, the students are required to think about concepts of personal identity in contrast to stereotypes. Since the young adults´experience prejudices on their own culture, the process of foreign-cultural awareness originates and allows further working in this topic and with the blog.

The homework assignment contains the task to write a comment in response to the blog post about German stereotypes (see Fig. 2).

Figure 2 - Stereotypes about Germans.Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

5.2.2 Second Teaching Lesson

To introduce Canadian lifestyle and values the foreign language learners are supposed to discuss and answer the following questions by precisely making use of the blog in pairs:

1. What items are typically used to represent Canadians and Canada?
2.What do these items say about the physical characteristics of the country? (size, weather, landscape, etc.)
3. What do they tell you about Canadian history and who they are as a group of people? (British influence, French language, importance of Aboriginal culture, etc.)
4. What do they tell you about what Canadians value or think is important? (e.g., nature, history, respect for all cultures)

Question number 4 is the crucial question which leads to the new hyponym “personal values”. Again, by using the blog and the appropriate blog post, the students are able to answer the question what Canadian values of life are. Appropriate blog posts in this case would be “My Personal Values” (see Fig. 3), “Canadian Pride” (see Fig. 4), “Travelling and Cultures” (see Fig. 5) and “Stay Motivated” (see Fig. 6).

Figure 3 - My Personal Values. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 4 - Canadian Pride. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 5 - Travelling and Cultures. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 6 - Stay Motivated. Adapted from: https://wordpress.com/posts/digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com (11 Aug. 2016)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

[...]


[1] The weblog on www.digitalmediaintheeflc.wordpress.com has been created by Theresa Röttges, YaninHellmuth, Sarah Thomisch, Andreas Schneider and Olesja Yaniv as part of the seminar “Teaching Culture in the EFLC” at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen during the summer semester 2016. This blog is based in a real-life person, who was interviewed by the group members above-mentioned.

Excerpt out of 21 pages

Details

Title
Digital Media and Culture. Counter Stereotypes about Foreign Cultures by Using Weblogs in the EFLC
College
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen  (Anglistik)
Course
Digital Media in EFLC
Grade
1,3
Author
Year
2016
Pages
21
Catalog Number
V338603
ISBN (eBook)
9783668283442
ISBN (Book)
9783668283459
File size
734 KB
Language
English
Tags
DIgital Media, EFLC, Culture, Stereotypes, Prejudices, Canada
Quote paper
Olesja Yaniv (Author), 2016, Digital Media and Culture. Counter Stereotypes about Foreign Cultures by Using Weblogs in the EFLC, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/338603

Comments

  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Digital Media and Culture. Counter Stereotypes about Foreign Cultures by Using Weblogs in the EFLC


Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free