Sameness and difference in classroom learning cultures: interpretations of communicative pedagogy in the UK and Korea

Mitchell, Rosamond and Lee, Jenny Hye-Won (2003) Sameness and difference in classroom learning cultures: interpretations of communicative pedagogy in the UK and Korea. Language Teaching Research, 7, (1), 35-63. (doi:10.1191/1362168803lr114oa).


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This paper is a contribution to the growing sociolinguistic literature on classroom foreign/second language learning and teaching (Duff 1995; Willett, 1995; Bailey and Nunan, 1996; Bremer et al., 1996; Coleman, 1996; Toohey, 1998; Heller, 1999; Rampton, 1999). We report two case studies of mainstream beginner-level FL instruction, using observational and interview data gathered in schools in Seoul, Korea, and in Southern England. In both cases, the public rationales offered for foreign language learning include a mix of 'internationalist' and 'instrumental' values (MoE, 1995; DES, 1991; DfEE/QCA, 1999). The dominant language-teaching ideologies to which the teachers in the different locations declare allegiance are also similar, involving commitment to various principles of the 'communicative approach' to language teaching. (In both settings, for example, the speaking skill is given priority, there is use of group work, etc.) Through analysis of selected lesson excerpts we identify similarities and differences in the classroom interpretations of communicative methodology, and in particular the opportunities available for individual students to engage in L2 interaction. We examine how the identity of the 'good language learner' is constructed in the different settings, for example, through differing teacher emphases on individual vs. collective responsibility for learning. Differences between the two classrooms are linked to broader features of the educational setting, but we show that these differences do not reflect common stereotypes about Anglo and Asian teaching styles in any simple way.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1191/1362168803lr114oa
ISSNs: 1362-1688 (print)
Related URLs:
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Modern Languages
ePrint ID: 12319
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2005
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:24
Progression in foreign language learning
Funded by: ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (R000234754)
1 September 1993 to 31 August 1996

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