Learner-Centered Cultural Understandings

Page No.: 
114
Writer(s): 
Hugh Kirkwood, Rikkyo University

Reference Data:

Kirkwood, H. (2016). Learner-centered cultural understandings. In P. Clements, A. Krause, & H. Brown (Eds.), Focus on the learner. Tokyo: JALT.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s (MEXT’s) policy for foreign language education in Japanese elementary schools includes the aims that it should increase both learners’ awareness of cultural differences and learners’ appreciation of their own culture. Some teacher-centered approaches to culture in Japanese foreign language learning contexts, however, may be problematic due to their unintentional reinforcement or promotion of overly simplistic views of culture or stereotypes. In this paper I introduce episodes from my own teaching in which students were encouraged to consider, be creative with, and share both their existing and new cultural understandings without teacher control. These episodes suggest that while student-centered approaches to cultural understanding in the language classroom may require careful consideration of student needs and support from sympathetic institutions, such approaches have the potential to increase students’ willingness to participate in cultural learning and to inspire nuanced understandings of culture.

文部科学省が掲げる日本の小学校における外国語教育の方策には,学習者の様々な文化的差異への気付きと自国文化理解の向上という目標が含まれている。しかし,日本の外国語学習で文化について教える教師中心の教育手法には,過度に単純化された文化的視点や固定観念を意図せず強調または助長してしまうことにより、問題を含むものがあるかもしれない。本論では,教師による過度な統制を取り払い,生徒がよく考え,創造性を持ち,これまでと新たに得た文化的理解を分かち合うよう方向付けた,著者の教育実践に基づくケーススタディーを紹介する。本ケーススタディーにより,語学授業で文化的理解を促進するために生徒中心の教育を実施するには,生徒のニーズへの注意深い配慮と組織全体の協力を必要とする一方で,生徒中心の教育は、文化の複雑さの理解と,文化の学習への参加について、生徒の高い自発性を引き出す大きな可能性があることが示された。

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