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‘Approaching the real’: an historical and autobiographical account of foreign language teaching in a middle school

Daniels, John Michael (2009) ‘Approaching the real’: an historical and autobiographical account of foreign language teaching in a middle school. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This historical narrative provides the account of a professional life as a foreign language teacher and the personal development which is part of this process. Central to this thesis is the introduction of a series of language learning initiatives to address the challenges of teaching foreign languages in a middle school. The title of the research 'approaching the real' is based on the consideration that the target language and culture is absent from the classroom and that our efforts in teaching a language are focused on the need to represent an absent reality. As a 'translated' and adapted form of the target language there is a need therefore to 'approach the real' and drama, (through role-play and improvisation work) is seen as a mechanism for reducing the distance from the target language and culture. This thesis is also, however, about providing opportunities for pupils to 'experience the real' through participation in a French exchange. Here the pupil is transported into a different environment and routine and there are problems associated with culture shock' and the need to adjust to differences. Pupils are given a different perspective on what previously, they are likely to have taken for granted. Through a comparison of classroom foreign language learning with the exchange, it proves possible to develop a model for foreign language learning based on these experiences. The unpredictable, disorganised nature of real communication, where the cultural context of the situation is central, contrasts with the disciplined pattern of the classroom with the emphasis on language structure. While promoting the case for extending pupils' language opportunities, a case is also made for the use of new technologies to enable contact with someone from another culture.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:33

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