Saturday, June 27, 2015

2015 June 27 | Rob Fritz | The (Intercultural) Language Classroom

Thanks to everyone who braved the rainy weather to make it out! 

Notes from the presentation

Part 1: Theory
Rob Fritz
Despite the Ministry of Education's (MEXT) aims to produce globally-minded citizens, the recent educational climate in Japan is that of students who are inward-looking, or uchi-muki. The problem is exacerbated by the implantation of language education that remains focused on grammatical accuracy. To achieve the Ministry's stated aims, Mr. Fritz argues that language education must incorporate culture into the curriculum in a meaningful way. He advocates the following changes:
  • Deep adjustment to the educational infrastructure
  • Deep awareness of development of self 
  • Awareness of how sociocultural factors influence our subjective world view

Presentation notes continued:

Mr. Fritz outlined the theory related to the intercultural language classroom in three steps:
1. How to understand self
The process of understanding the self is as follows: reflection, awareness, understanding, applying, analyzing, creating. These are encapsulated in 3 layers of self, specific, and general contexts.

2. Creating an intercultural classroom: what are factors that influence learners in the classroom?
Traditionally, language and culture are taught separately. The intercultural classroom necessitates that language and culture are integrated into the curriculum at a deep level.

3. Develop intercultural competence in learners: develop intercultural competence (ICC) inside and outside the classroom
Inter-cultural encounters are not solely language-based, but rather situated in affecti
Rob Fritz Presenting at Nagasaki JALT
- June 27, 2015 -
ve and socio-cultural contexts. Keys to developing ICC are informal learning outside of the classroom, curiosity of the world, and empathy. An inter-culturally competent person is flexible and able to adjust to their environment.

Part 2: Pedagogical Approaches
Mr. Fritz introduced tasks for developing ICC from formal classroom tasks to informal learning outside the classroom. Mr. Fritz argued that many students have been conditioned to focus on language accuracy through their formal educational experiences. Through engaging in and reflecting on various activities, students are able de-learn previous ‘accuracy-first' ways of education and begin the process of re-learning through developing intercultural competence. Specifically, he discussed the importance of non-verbal communication, creativity, and reflection. Challenges for the future are:

  • De-learning: old habits
  • Developing ICC
  • Assessing ICC

Abstract and Event Information

Recent Japanese Ministry of Education (MEXT) initiatives in Japan have recognized a need to create “internationally minded” students to “strengthen Japan’s global competiveness” and “succeed in the global field”. However, how can this be achieved within the Japanese university English classroom? This presentation will bring research from intercultural education and cultural psychology to show how objectives outlined by MEXT can be achieved. 

The first part of this presentation will introduce key ideas from the fields of intercultural education and cultural psychology to create an intercultural classroom. Furthermore, the presenter will explain their fundamental philosophy of successful language learning being a deep process that first requires a learner to become critically aware of ‘self’. Self is a complex and unique system made up from our character traits, communicative style, psychological factors, socio-cultural influences, past experiences, present needs and future objectives. Awareness and understanding of these elements is crucial to deeply understand others from different backgrounds.

In the second part, the focus will be on how to apply the theories and ideas introduced to produce an effective syllabus and appropriate classroom approaches. In particular, the presenter will demonstrate how learners’ sense of self can be developed through reflective and ethnographic tasks using ipads and social networking sites such as Google+. Finally, the presenter will share and discuss challenges and results obtained from his classes.

Speaker: Rob Fritz
Date and Time: Saturday, 27 June 2015 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Location: Dejima Koryu Kaikan, 2-11 Dejimamachi, Nagasaki
Fee for JALT members: Free
Fee for one-day members: 1,000 yen, free for students or first-time JET Programme participants
Contact or Queries: Email contact form

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