Reading With My Eyes Open: Embracing the critical and the personal in language pedagogy
Gerdi Quist, University College London
Copyright Year: 2013
ISBN 13: 9781909188211
Publisher: Ubiquity Press
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The text gives a comprehensive treatment of how liberal humanist and instrumentalist approaches to education have informed the language classroom. read more
The text gives a comprehensive treatment of how liberal humanist and instrumentalist approaches to education have informed the language classroom.
The classroom study that anchors the book is presented with nuanced complexity. Quist carefully addresses the biases of the author in how the classroom enactment is analysed.
The theoretical framework that sets up the foundational study for this book could benefit from more recent approaches to language pedagogy, particularly those informed by translingual approaches to language.
This book is clearly written.
The reader comes away with a strong understanding of the problems and concepts that are immanent to this text.
There are sections that could certainly supplement other classrooms on language pedagogy and culture.
The book reads like a dissertation study.
There are no distracting or confusing interface issues.
I did not encounter any grammatical errors.
Intercultural communication is a central concept of this book and is presented with great sensitivity.
After an insightful treatment of the shortcomings of liberal humanist and instrumental approaches to language teaching, Gerdi Quist critiques approaches to teaching culture in language pedagogy as being out of step with a world of interconnectedness and fluidity. The fixedness on culture as national attributes found in the influential CEFR is a particularly prescient focus of Quist’s book. Quist incorporates an ethnographic approach to texts in the language classroom that allows her students to “be intercultural” as they are languaging, rather than merely acquiring cultural knowledge or functions of language that allow for intercultural communication. Quist shows how these ideas are enacted in a Dutch language classroom, to great effect. The result is not a neatly packaged study, but one that revels in the complexities of being intercultural in the language classroom. I see this text as useful in a couple of ways. One, it was helpful to me as a language professor to articulate the foundations of the tensions that I experience in a higher education classroom. In this regard, this text will be valuable to those thinking about what it means to teach language in today’s world. Secondly, I could see the theoretical framework that Quist develops in the first few chapters as being helpful supplements to any undergraduate or graduate level classroom concerned with thinking through the relationship between language and culture, and how this relationship is manifest in the modern college or university.
This text covers the rich history of language pedagogy from two important perspectives. Both the critical and the personal lenses for studying and questioning language and text are unpacked for the reader at length in the first half of the book. ... read more
This text covers the rich history of language pedagogy from two important perspectives. Both the critical and the personal lenses for studying and questioning language and text are unpacked for the reader at length in the first half of the book. The second half of Reading with My Eyes Open provides applied examples of the researchers observations of students encountering themselves as they engage in text and discourse analysis.
The content I found most helpful was the historical and theoretical perspectives of language pedagogy. My work with pre-service teachers requires that I help them see how they are cultured. This text provides consumable history and theory as tools for pre-service teachers to explore their interpretations of language both personally and professionally. I think the content of this book provides a strong foundation for discussions regarding new approaches such as Emdin's (2016) Reality Pedagogy.
The historical and theoretical content of this text is somewhat timeless. The interpretations and practical applications are subject to the constant questioning and reinvention of pedagogy in educational research. Nonetheless, I think this text provides a strong foundation and is relevant for initiating discussions that assert that the cultural and the critical are not new trends in language development or education at large.
The theoretical and historical nature of this text may prove dense for some readers. Nonetheless, the author does a good job of keeping the prose concise and intentional
The author is consistent in the utilization of vocabulary relevant to language pedagogy throughout the text. In addition, each chapter is careful to introduce, define, and cite additional concepts and terms in order to orient the reader.
This text would be a great addition to any syllabus inviting pre-service teachers to consider the complexity of language in the classroom. Chapter 2 provides a strong foundation for further discussion of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, Reality Pedagogy, or even the recent Abolitionist Teaching.
The book is well organized. The table of contents provides a clear guide to the themes of each chapter.
The text has no interface issues.
The book is written in British English.
This text addresses culture head on. The theoretical and historical perspectives to seeing language through personal culture has potential to be a powerful tool for students in higher education. This approach informs students in ways that doesn't directly question their own implicit or explicit culturally biased use of language and text.
The author is clear that this textbook is "based on a classroom study exploring a particular intercultural approach to language teaching", she does a commendable job situating her cultuurtekst approach to language teaching in historical context.... read more
The author is clear that this textbook is "based on a classroom study exploring a particular intercultural approach to language teaching", she does a commendable job situating her cultuurtekst approach to language teaching in historical context. The first two chapters also do a decent job of presenting the theoretical framework in which the study is situated. It is not, however, a thorough overview of language teaching approaches (e.g., grammar-translation, audiolingual, task-based).
There are some minor type-editing issues (e.g., the following sentence fragment on page 1: Secondly, that attempting to develop students’ critical awareness and language competence would need an even clearer conceptualisation coupled with a more considered pedagogical approach.). However, there are no glaring misrepresentations of competing theoretical perspectives or empirical research.
The text presents a close examination of a new/emergent language teaching approach, grounded in empirical data drawn from the author's own teaching experience at a "traditional university" in Britain. AS such, it is much like a published study, or dissertation. It promises to inform ongoing scholarship, especially as publishable manuscripts make their way into the academic mainstream. This text also stands out in the OER world as a rare example of a textbook focused on innovative approaches to language teaching.
The author writes in an incredibly approachable style, even when delving deeply into critical theoretical approaches in Chapters 2-3. There is certainly a fair amount of jargon, as the author coins new terms and employs relatively-new theoretical constructs. however, they are explained with the patience and clarity of a classroom teacher, and students/teachers/researchers alike will find it easy to read and useful.
The author carefully lays out the theoretical perspectives used throughout the book. Terminology is consistent throughout.
I imagine that the clear organization of material would make the book highly appropriate for remixing/reusing the material. The potential for modularity is considerable, though honestly, I would worry that much would be lost in the process. This is a dissertation-style, expansive report on a single study. The theoretical/historical sections are probably fine to excerpt, but I wonder if the data and implication sections would stand well on their own.
As demonstrated clearly in the Table of Contents, and in the use of Headers and Subheaders throughout, the book is very well organized.
the text is free of interface issues, as it loads neatly in .pdf format.
See my note in the "Clarity" section. There are some typographical issues here and there throughout the text. It might benefit from a professional type-editing pass.
This text is culturally relevant, but perhaps not in the way this question is intended. I imagine the question to be asking about cultural relevance or responsiveness as discussed in Geneva Gay, Gloria Ladson-Billings, and Samy Alim and Django Paris. Rather than drawing on culturally-specific knowledge about students and their communities to transform classroom pedagogy, this book does a nice job of centering the cultural aspects of language learning. In fact, this is the focus of Chapters 2-3.
The text provides a comprehensive view of two theoretical approaches (traditional, instrumental vs. liberal humanist) to language teaching in a UK university and discusses how their underlying theoretical assumptions ground language teaching... read more
The text provides a comprehensive view of two theoretical approaches (traditional, instrumental vs. liberal humanist) to language teaching in a UK university and discusses how their underlying theoretical assumptions ground language teaching paradigms. These concepts are then connected to the traditional separation of the culture and language, decreasing the potential for language learners to communicate intercutlurally. The second half of the book focuses specifically on the author's research on these topics in the classroom as learners interact with written texts.
The theory content is accurate, and the research content appears to the same. The author has a clear goal of exploring and interpreting the data from a particular theoretical perspective.
The content of the book is relevant to today's discussions of language and culture, particularly in light of the globalization that increase every day with the ability to communicate with individuals all over the world at a moment's notice. For traditionally-oriented language teachers, the text provides a contrasting view of how language teaching in this developing environment can be interpreted and implemented.
The prose is clear and accessible to individuals with some background in learning and language learning approaches.
The text is consistent and clear in the way it explains ideas and the path on which the author takes the reader. The organization of the book is logical.
The chapters in the first half of the book are easily divisible into smaller reading sections and clearly laid out in a logical way to assist instructors in identifying when to utilize which sections. The second half of the book is referential and would need to be read in order.
The topics are presented in a logical order and follow the traditional dissertation pattern, making it easily accessible to those in academia.
There are no interface issues noted.
No grammar errors were noted, but readers should be aware of the fact that the author is writing from the UK. Readers from other English-speaking locations may find some word and phrase choices to be distracting.
The text is culturally relevant, particularly in light of the intercultural communication topics addressed in the book.
This text is appropriate for graduate-level courses in language acquisition and/or culturally responsive pedagogy courses.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Tensions Between the Old and the New: The Influence of Educational Ideologies on Language Teaching
Chapter 2 Culture Pedagogy: Some Theoretical Considerations
- Teaching Culture
- Language in Relation to Culture
- Social and Cultural Views of Language
Chapter 3 Being Intercultural Through Texts: The Student as Text Ethnographer
- Intercultural Communication in Language Teaching
Chapter 4 Context of Teaching and Research
Chapter 5 Tensions in the Classroom
- Lesson 1: Text as ‘Text'
- Lesson 2: Cultuurtekst
Chapter 6 Conclusion: Embracing Tensions
- The Research Findings
About the Book
Untangling the various approaches to language teaching and their history, Gerdi Quist maps recent thinking in language studies at university. Using an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, drawn from educational philosophy, cultural studies, intercultural studies and language pedagogy, the author discusses the many tensions and currents in contemporary language teaching. The author puts forward an alternative pedagogy, that of a cultuurtekst-perspective, which engages learners at complex linguistic and cultural levels. In discussing the case study in which this approach is tested, the author develops her argument for embracing various critical perspectives through the personal engagement of students. From the start the author acknowledges her own engaged position as a language teacher in a liberal humanistic educational environment. She adopts a self-critical perspective through which her engagement with adverse student reaction leads to deepening insights both for the author and her students as part of the non-linear process of learning. Gerdi Quist teaches Dutch language and lectures on multiculturalism and intercultural communication. Recent publications included a book chapter and journal articles on language pedagogy and intercultural communication.
About the Contributors
Dr. Gerdi Quist. Lecturer in Dutch. Currently researches language-and-culture teaching and the development of language learning materials from a social semiotic perspective. As well as publishing theoretical articles on the issue, she has also produced self-study materials for Dutch as a Foreign Language.