Toward a Critical Epistemology for Learning Languages and Cultures in Twenty-First Century Asia

Chapter
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 24)

Abstract

The adoption of English as the working language of Asia and the ASEAN region, together with an increase in the mobility of people and information, are creating new and significant pressures on language and culture education in English, as well as other languages, in the region. It is also bringing about an enormously expanded use of English between speakers for whom English is not a first language, and this expansion includes communication in English between people of different cultural backgrounds. The surge in the use of English highlights a number of current challenges. English language proficiency levels vary widely across Asia. Communicative competence in English as a second language is at least equally problematic. The matter is further complicated by the growth of the Internet and other technological progress, which has resulted in the creation of a self-managing, often Do-it-Yourself society engaged in “just-in-time” rather than “just-in-case” activity, as in the past. These considerations call for new learning/teaching approaches which go beyond the conventional classroom and curriculum. The present chapter proposes a generic framework for implementing (language-)learning/teaching structures, with a special focus on challenging learners’ “operational histories” – their habitual patterns of understanding stimuli from their experience of the world. The framework is explicitly learner-centred, individual, personalized and adaptive, and is designed to help learners develop mindsets and strategies to tackle learning issues on their own initiative and in their own way. An example is presented of a successful implementation of the framework for the learning of English pronunciation by Chinese university English Majors. This kind of approach, building specifically on challenging learners’ “operational histories”, has significant potential for developing language and culture teaching and learning, and the acquisition of intercultural communication competence, in Asian contexts.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Foreign LanguagesSuranaree University of TechnologyNakhon RatchasimaThailand
  2. 2.School of Languages and Cultures, and Institute for Teaching and Learning InnovationThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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