Welcome to the Eighth Issue of The Warwick ELT!

Editorial…

We are pleased to present the eighth issue of the Warwick ELT e-zine. In this issue, we are delighted to have contributions, from students of the MA in Applied Linguistics and the MSc in Intercultural Communication for Business and the Professions. The articles of this issue are related to different areas of English Language Teaching, like conversation analysis, culture in ELT and Ethnography as an approach to language teaching. The first author, Laila Mufidah in her article, Relational Talk in an Institutional Setting: A Case of Mobile Network Provider presents the findings of a conversation analysis applied to the interaction between an assistant manager of a service provider and two potential customers, taking into account how a relational talk is accomplished in an institutional context. Frazer Smith in his article, Investigating the role of Culture for ELT Materials in Japan explores how notions of culture are commonly understood and questions the extent to which such representations are useful for English language teaching purposes, considering his teaching experience in the Japanese context. Last but not least, Anastasia Stavridou proposes a practical teaching tip in her article Ethnography as an Approach to Language-and-culture Teaching and Learning. She highlights the use of ethnography as a tool to teach language and culture to non-native speakers of English, presenting a sample activity based on a traditional Greek feast day, Shrove Tuesday, commonly known as Pancake Day.

For ease of access, the link for each article can be found below:

  1. Relational Talk in an Institutional Setting: A Case of Mobile Network Provider by Laila Mufidah
  2. Investigating the Role of Culture for ELT Materials in Japan by Frazer Smith
  3. Ethnography as an Approach to Language-and-culture Teaching and Learning by Anastasia Stavridou

We hope that the articles included in this issue may contribute for professional development and future research, and may enhance a critical perspective about different aspects related to linguistics and culture that intervene in the process of teaching and learning a language.

Issue editors,

Jayantha Ratnayake, Maricarmen Gamero and Noel Franco  Jr.

Relational Talk in an Institutional Setting: A Case of Mobile Network Provider

Laila Mufidah

Abstract

Mobile network provider companies offer assistance related to product description and service questions. One of their duties includes registering new customers by recording their contact information for opening a new account. In this paper, the interaction between an assistant manager of a service provider and two potential customers was analyzed taking into account how a relational talk is accomplished in an institutional context. The exchange consists of four types of relational talks: non-transactional conversations, phatic communion, relational episodes, and relational sequences/turns. Although these varieties of relational talks are present in different combinations, which occur naturally during the process of transactional conversation, they do not seem to cause the shifting purpose of the talk. The result of the analysis shows that the assistant manager’s fondness of including language with a relational orientation is seen as a way to build a positive interpersonal relationship. It is therefore expected that the findings from this paper provide possible affirmation in relevance to how individual conveys relational talk interactions particularly in the institutional contexts.

 

Introduction

According to Heritage (2005), aside from basic Conversation Analysis(CA), another form of research is institutional CA, which uses basic CA to focus on the activity of social institution. Throughout the process of recording and transcribing institutional talk, a point often overlooked is that institutional talk has the same probability as daily talk to happen anywhere. Having considered this, it is quite predictable that ordinary conversation can also appear in institutional context and vice versa (Heritage & Clayman, 2011). This paper focuses on analysing a conversation about a mobile network provider’s monthly phone plan, which is carried out between an assistant manager of a mobile network provider and two friends. The participants involved in the conversation are a native speaker of English (Aryan) and two non-native speakers of English costumers (Gita & Dewi). The recording was taken at a mobile network provider store and pseudonyms have been assigned to all the participants involved.

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Investigating the Role of Culture for ELT materials in Japan

Frazer Smith

Abstract

As use of English as a language for international communication around the world becomes more and more prevalent, traditional textbook representations of culture associated with the language have been increasingly problematized. This paper seeks to investigate how notions of culture are commonly understood and question the extent to which such representations are useful for English language teaching purposes. In an attempt to do this, a number of fundamental concerns have been outlined, namely: (a) evaluating current representation in ELT materials; (b) exploring the extent to which English can be separated from traditional target cultures; (c) questioning how pre-conceived notions of authenticity contribute to learner expectations; and (d) considering how roles of language learning motivation may influence individual perspectives. The rationale for this article was inspired by the author’s experience of teaching English for professional purposes in the Japanese context, and, as a result, seeks to examine how such concerns can contribute to improved practical application in the region and other contexts with related concerns. Areas for future research are also outlined.

Key words: ELF, culture, materials, motivation, Japan

 

Introduction

I have chosen to examine this particular issue as it is an issue that concerns me in my own teaching practice, and it is also an area I would like to research more. To explain, I currently work as an ELT practitioner in Japan, mostly specialising in the teaching of business and general English classes to adult learners. Most materials are allocated to me by my employer, but I also have the freedom to create additional content. On the whole, provided materials consist of course books from UK-based publishers, which, although seemingly intent on promotion of English as an International Language (EIL), can display limitations. I have often wondered how representations of language and content could be improved to better meet the needs of the majority of my learners. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to consider the role of ‘culture’ presented in ELT materials and examine possible solutions to the issues raised, especially in regard to my particular teaching context.

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Ethnography as an Approach to Language-and-culture Teaching and Learning

 

Anastasia Stavridou

Abstract

This paper focuses on the use of ethnography as a tool in order to teach language and culture to non-native speakers of English. At first, the article discusses the concept of ethnography (Agar, 1980), how it emerged and how it was developed, and then, it elaborates on the impact of culture and the link between language and culture (Kramsch, 1993) since the paper intends to justify the usefulness of this approach in a specific language context. The advantages of using ethnography are highlighted through the sample activity designed by the author. Language learners are expected to explore the width of knowledge hidden in real-case interaction and, consequently, to develop their observation and communication skills. In addition, learners realise the importance of culture and obtain cultural learning and experience apart from the linguistic knowledge. Finally, a sample activity based on the traditional feast day, Shrove Tuesday, commonly known as Pancake Day, supports the notion of ethnography in the language-and-culture teaching and learning.

 Key words: ethnography, languaculture, language teaching, intercultural engagement

 

Introduction

This paper aims to investigate the use of ethnographic approaches in teaching and learning language and culture. Ethnography was first developed within anthropology, but very soon was applied within other disciplines too, such as language-and-culture teaching. Ethnographic approaches to teaching language and culture seem to become more popular and acquire more significance in the context of modern societies, which are characterised by continuous changes and diversity and thus become more and more multicultural. Today, as societies become more multicultural, ethnographic approaches seem even more effective for teaching language and culture. In the first part of this assignment, I will explore how the concept of ethnography emerged and was then expanded to language teaching, what the impact of culture is on ethnography and what the connection is between language and culture. Then, in the second part, I will focus on the positive effects of ethnographic approaches to teaching language-and-culture and specifically on how students can benefit from them. To illustrate these, I will provide some sample activities in which the concept of ethnography can be applied. Continue reading