Rhetoric, Composition, Culture and Pedagogy: Instruction in the EFL Classroom as Cultural Exchange.

Supporting Materials 

Pertinent Links

Selected Annotated Bibliography. 

 Essays Supporting Self-Evaluating Essay:

Second Journal Entry Sep 13th.

How I Understand English Studies.

 A Rumination on Academic Writing.

Tentative Unbound Project Proposal.
           Jon Maiullo Dr. Stacy Eng. 600
        11-13-07 Revised 11-29-07

    I would like to use my explanation of culminating experience to disabuse the perception that the field of ESL/EFL is merely a post-colonial tool with no substantial place in academia. In my unbound project I would use evidence to support Pope’s claim that “in many respects ESL/EFL is the most dynamic and resourceful area of the subject: the space where much of the most innovative work in cross-cultural teaching and learning goes on” (32). I would attempt to demonstrate this notion of a dynamic EFL with direct examples from a classroom, where acculturative praxis is shown to be effective. My studies of EFL methods would be conducted through the scope of acculturation. Lesson plans would be constructed around a notion of cross-cultural communication, and my thesis would state that acculturation is an under-developed skill in EFL methodology, and is of prime importance as something both the instructor and the student undertake together. I would endeavor to describe the importance of lessons that make use of acculturation where L1 (first language) English-speaking societal norms, mores and rules are compared with those of the L2 (second language) English students.  If my teaching experience will take place in a multi-cultural setting I will account for this by promoting classroom discussions on inter-ethnic issues. For example, soliciting different student opinions on whether or not English could eventually become a universal, non-culturally sensitive lingua franca. If the classroom I undertake is more homogeneous than I will pose questions to the students on the nature of their particular relation to the language, if they perceive any at all. Above all the project will demonstrate how a culturally sensitive EFL classroom, or a classroom that recognizes and accounts for the cultural aspects of language teaching across boarders, promotes a more salubrious learning environment. I intend to demonstrate this by applying professional methods of instruction and proving how each instructional method was enhanced by attention to culture. For example, in H. Douglas Brown’s text Teaching by Principles he encourages a principled model of teaching. Through practical classroom experience I intend to show how cultural scrutiny will aid these principles. For example the principle of strategic investment or “extent [of a] learner’s own personal investment [in] time, effort, and attention to the second language in the form of an individualized battery of strategies…” (69). I would use my thesis to emboss such efforts by demonstrating how a consideration of culture--how it motivates students, how it affects learning, the importance it puts on English, etc.-- can improve on existing theory and practice.
      I would use the thesis to catalog the cultural materials I found useful in the class. In the past, working in a refugee center, I found that culturally specific materials were very helpful in teaching students of all ages. I intend to study how this relates to populations living in and out of Diaspora, depending on my program placement. Classroom realia will be as authentic as possible, including English-translations of regional authors, local bus and train timetables, use of meaningful topics and common environments in classroom exercises and other classroom foci that EFL Peace Corps instructors have shown to be valuable in the past. For example, the exemplary techniques used by mid-60’s Nigerian volunteers: “The English teacher who used sentences describing everyday events in village life; the physics teacher who illustrated his points with local proverbs; and the science teacher who guided students toward important community needs such as… clean water" (Lowther and Lucas 85).
       My research will be evidenced by the discussion and, where available, demonstration of classroom materials; lesson plans designed and refined over a two-year teaching period; student testimonials and evidence of a sustainable teaching model, in the form of modeled techniques implemented by the institution.
      As I am still uncertain of the exact nature of my assignment in the Peace Corps, I find it difficult to prepare a concise explanation of culminating experience. At present I can only follow a vague model of conjecture on what my work in the Peace Corps will be like. As a result I consider this proposal somewhat idealized and perhaps not entirely realistic, though I do believe the model will be feasible on some level. Nonetheless, I will conclude by applying its functions to the title 5 definition of culminating experience in the Master’s program.
      As a “written product of a systematic study of a significant problem” my experience will account for the neglect of acculturation as a valuable teaching skill in EFL and demonstrate how consideration of culture will advance the general EFL repertoire. In stating how I believe acculturation will advance the field of EFL, this portion of the explanation “ identifies the problem, states the major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking….” In the second section of the explanation, the sources and methods are accounted for in the use of classroom realia, EFL activity workbooks, cultural-specific materials whenever possible such as newspapers, literature and even comic strips that may deal with relevant cultural themes. A number of standard, academic EFL texts will also be discussed in terms of possible classroom application. The data will be a comparison with other contemporary EFL studies, specifically those that explicitly account for or neglect culture as a skill. The analysis will seek out post-instruction data on students and compare ability with intensity of cultural emphasis. The conclusion will use specific examples to demonstrate how culture is useful in the EFL classroom and to which areas of instruction it is most necessarily applied. This conclusion will “evidence…originality, critical and independent thinking” in terms of cogent application of method and the augmentation of culture to method. Viewing each situation and result as unique until an obvious conclusion results.

Works Cited:  See Annotated Bibiography.

Brown, Douglas H. Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy.
White Plains NY: Pearson Education, 2007.

Lowther, Kevin, and C. Payne Lucas. Keeping Kennedy’s Promise. The Peace Corps: Unmet Hope of the New Frontier. Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1978.

Pope, Rob. The English Studies Book: An introduction to Language, Literature and Culture.
London: Routledge, 2002.

Essay of Self-Evaluation