The place of culture in ESL master's programs in the United States
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAlthough master's degree programs in English as a Second Language (ESL) in the United States show a great variety in terms of the name of the degree, the length of the program, and the focus of the studies, among other things, a strong connection between language and culture is presumed to be central in second language teaching. However, a survey of four-semester programs shows that only 47 (51.6%) require a course on culture suggesting that it is not recognized universally as a priority. In the academic institutions where there is a course on culture, future ESOL teachers are learning under the implicit ideologies of their instructors as well as those of the institution they are attending. These ideologies respond to imperatives at the national and international level (Kramsch, 1993). The ideologies are rarely clearly articulated in the programs or the courses per se, and it is common to find that in the foreign language classroom many teachers are not entirely aware of the cultural nature of their discourse. The purpose of this investigation is to find out what systems, beliefs, and values underlie the courses that deal with 'culture' in four leading Master's programs in the United States, taken as representative of the field. These are investigated under four subcategories: (1) the purpose of each program, implicit or explicit, (2) the views on the teaching of English held by both faculty and future teachers of English, i.e., the students in the program, (3) the content of the course that deals with culture, and (4) the concept of culture adopted in the program and the course. The findings are analyzed in the light of the theories of Symbolic Violence of Bourdieu, Critical Pedagogy, in particular the works of Freire, Apple, and Pennycook, and Phillipson's theory of Linguistic Imperialism. The primary hoped-for application of these results is to help university teachers and future teachers of English as a second language become more aware of the inherently ideological nature of the field and help them reflect on how their own ideologies may have an effect on those they teach.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching