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Featured Archive Articles

Several times a year we will feature an article from our archive which could be of particular interest to you in the classroom. Each will have a brief introduction outlining its content with suggested ideas for its use.

Our present article is:

Youth in Britain Today Ruth Cherrington

Irresponsible teenage mothers with screaming kids, ecstasy-crazed, sweaty ravers, crusty anti-road protesters living in tree houses and the ubiquitous young football hooligans: this is British youth of today. Or is it? Which image is the most appropriate one when considering youth in contemporary Britain? This is how Ruth begins her article, one which takes a wide-ranging look not only at youth culture but at the ways in which it is represented in society. There are plenty of examples to illustrate her arguments and an extensive bibliography. A number of these books can be found in the British Studies Resource Points found in teaching colleges and British Council libraries throughout Poland.

Passages can be of value for advanced students and to provide background knowledge for the teacher. A further item on the same theme is Mariusz Marczak’s review of Prof. E. Ellis Cashmore’s No Future: youth and society


Previous archive articles:

Michael Byram Interviews

Patriotism and Identity Peter Leese & Beata Piątek

A Cross-cultural Approach to British Studies Beth Edginton  

Some reflections on materials design for British Cultural Studies Alan Pulverness  

Advertisements for language and cultural learning Simon Gill   

Michael Byram Interviews

In fact it is two interviews - both with Professor Michael Byram. He is recognised as a leader in the field of intercultural approaches to FLT and here he outlines his current thinking on intercultural competence and talks of how his personal involvement grew.

The Concept of Intercultural Competence

The Roots of Culture-in-Language Teaching

He defines intercultural competence (IC) as:

How can IC be defined today? IC is the ability to see yourself as others see you, to respond to them in the light of that, and to interact with them in the light of that. See yourself as others see you. And if all the people in an interaction do that, then we are going to have a more political exchange. ‘See yourself as others see you’ is not my phrase, but it is a good phrase.

And sees its role in teaching as:

The first task [about developing identity] is a function of being a teacher. A good teacher is somebody who makes you think critically about yourself whichever subject you are teaching. The second task about developing identity is a political decision. I personally would say that the sense of belonging to and feeling that you are one of 800 million Europeans, difficult though it might be, is a good thing when it has prevented to some extent the conflicts we have had in the past within Europe.

In addition we have Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence - Polish questionnaire results by Ewa Bandura - part of a project co-ordinated by Michael Byram’s team in Durham. The article is an extended version of an item in BS Now (Issue 17 2003) and forms the basis of a discussion forum on www.counterpoint-online.org - the BC’s cultural relations think-tank

Patriotism and Identity Peter Leese & Beata Piątek

Peter Leese and Beata Piątek work at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków where among other things they undertake research on oral history, the results of which will soon be published.

Although superficially a review of two books on Britain the authors have taken the opportunity to examine these provocative and sensitive issues as they affect Poland as well.

We chose to review these books from a Polish perspective … assuming that Poland will provide an interesting point of comparison with Britain because, although it is on the opposite side of Europe, and in many respects its antithesis, the two share a common European heritage.

The result makes fascinating reading and a good starting point for a discussion of the future of contemporary Europe with advanced students.

This in fact is a new article to our pages but gives us the excuse to introduce you to five other excellent pieces from our archives by these authors.


A Cross-cultural Approach to British Studies Beth Edginton

Beth Edginton spent a period of time working in Poland. Here she presents some intercultural reflections on that experience and what she learned from it for teaching British Studies. She also examines how culture can fit into a wider educational agenda.

She begins:

I'd like to start with an advert which I saw in Warsaw a few months ago: Z daleka widać niektóre szczegóły - Zobacz Londyn z bliska - and for non Polish speakers the text says something like: From a distance one can only see a few details - See London close-up. I suppose I first noticed the advert because of the all-too-familiar stereotypical London icons: the beefeater, the policeman's helmet, the red double-decker, the underground sign, and the Union Jack …

There are many other useful examples like this in the text which could be used to stimulate discussion on cultural differences and similarities as well as the purpose and value of intercultural approaches in learning a foreign language.

Another article by Beth The Cross-cultural Construction of National Identity can be found in our Intercultural Reader section

Some reflections on materials design for British Cultural Studies Alan Pulverness

These were the conclusions of a conference summing up many ways in which culture in FLT is currently developing. It provides not only a review of methods but is very stimulating and challenging on culture in language teaching in general.

Alan’s conclusions were

In one sense, the weekend was inconclusive – no all-purpose guidelines were negotiated; no universal template was devised. But behind all the apparent diversity, there was a high degree of commonality at the levels of principles, processes and policies:

principles – materials presented or described pursuing the same kinds of objectives and the same kinds of outcomes

processes – the use of authentic resources and the acquisition of skills rather than the accumulation of information

policies – student-centredness, open-ended methodologies, iterative cycles of preparation-trialling-revision

Other articles by Alan can be found in our Culture in FLT - Background Reader section

Advertisements for language and cultural learning Simon Gill

He writes:

However well-equipped the circumstances a teacher works in may be, there is, it seems, always room for more in the way of resources. I know so many teachers who, like me, are afflicted with what can only be described as a mild form of kleptomania, and it is for them, principally, that this paper is written. In it I would like to share my enthusiasm for advertisements as a tool for language and cultural learning.

He goes on to discuss a wide variety of advertisements and consider why they are of value and how they can be used in class. Some sample activities and links to a few websites relevant to the theme are also given.

So, some ideas for using any advertising realia (not just of English but also of Polish or maybe of other origin) that you either already have or might pick up, and happy hunting for those who like what they find in the article.

Another article by Simon Where is my home? can be found in our Intercultural Reader section while The Untied Kingdom? Englishness in an Age of Devolution appears in our Identity edition

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