CultNet 2015 reflections

At Cultnet this year I presented a paper entitled “The goal is to teach English, not London is the city with diverse culture. No.” : Some Implications for ELF Teacher Education. It was my second Cultnet and as Min and Susan have said, attending and presenting at the Cultnet is beneficial in many ways. For me, I used the opportunities to look at some bits of my PhD data, to engage with it and being curious about it. The following reflection is about my thinking process on how to present my unclear ideas.

In February, I originally planned to look at my data from one of my PhD research questions perspectives which is about the purposes of English language teaching (and one of the insights I gained from the fieldwork was that the main purpose is to help students pass exams). My second thought was that when Cultnet is a network of people who are interested in the field of Intercultural Communication, why not trying to see my data from the intercultural perspective.

Since I didn’t ask my participants any direct question on what they think about the topic, I chose to zoom in to the data I generated from the stimulated recall interviews to explore what teachers said during the interview and the extent to which they commented on (what I think to be) the teaching of inter/cultural aspects in their teaching. Referring to the title above, it was Richard’s idea that I find some provocative quotes from my data and used it as the title. When I found that particular quote, I couldn’t help feeling hopeless about the teaching of the intercultural aspects in English classrooms in Thailand, and I guessed that my presentation would sound negative as well. I consulted with Richard regarding this negative feeling (including the STRESS I had from feeling under-prepared for the presentation). Richard who had just returned from Uganda last Monday was kind enough to agree to see me on Tuesday to “ease my stress”. Guess what? He did it by saying “the purpose is to entertain the audience” and it just rang the bell. I laughed and my attitudes changed.

I went back to look at my data again and thought how I could present something positive and useful for my audience (including a list of new (practical) jokes). Surprisingly, my views towards the data changed dramatically. Instead of seeing what the teacher said was a negative thing; I found that she really made a good point because the other two teachers also commented on the contents of the course book which mostly feature things that their students cannot relate with (e.g. James Bond and john Lennon). Although this made me became more curious (or confused, I wasn’t sure), I found one possible way to present it as at Cultnet is that you can also present a work-in-progress or issues you’ve found in the process to seek advice from the expert audience. Therefore, I chose to present the data, how I have understood it, offered some possible implications for teachers educators in my context and some possibilities for my thesis writing. I invited the audience to give me some suggestions at the end and those were worth thinking about.

Please see my slides here CultNet_2015_Khwan. As I mentioned earlier that this is an on-going work, I’m going to develop it for the ELIA Conference in Sevilla, Spain this July. Thank you for reading this. I hope you find something useful.  



One comment

  • Susan Dawson

    I really enjoyed your presentation Khwan – it was very engaging 🙂

    Two things jump out at me from what you have written here in relation to my own experience. You say that the teachers said the main purpose of teaching English is to pass exams. In my very different context – EAP here in the UK, I would say that the teachers would say the main purpose is to teach English and the students would say the main purpose of learning is to pass exams (IELTS in particular) – so a clash of expectations. What would Thai students say is the purpose?

    I’m also interested in the topics/people Thai students do not relate to. I had to cover a class on Monday. It was a bit of a last minute thing, with very little time to prepare. When I arrived, I was told it was a low-level class, all male arabic speakers. I pulled out a lesson on James Bond that I have done many times before with that sort of class profile and we had a great time. James Bond, Titanic and Princess Diana are three things that always go down well with that particular type of class! Not sure what that says for interculturality!