INSTITUTO DE INVESTIGACIONES EN HUMANIDADES Y CIENCIAS SOCIALES
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Cultural Understanding in EFL Reading in Argentina.
Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Lugar: New York; Año: 2010 p. 92
Libro perteneciente a la Serie Focus on Civilizations and Cultures. Novinka. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. New York, USA. Total de títulos publicados en la Serie: nueve. This study approaches a topic which is highly germane to the enhancement of foreign/second (L2) language education: the manner in which learners glean cultural perspectives during L2 reading. The importance of cultural perspectives for enhancing the comprehension of L2 texts has been widely acknowledged by theorists and researchers in the field. The chapter reports part of the results of a broader study carried out in 2005, whose specific aim was to describe the comprehension of the cultural content of a literary narrative text through response writing tasks and visual reformulations. About 200 Argentine college students (prospective teachers and translators of English) voluntarily participated in the study. They were Caucasian, mostly female, middle class, Spanish-speaking, between 19-21 years of age, and were enrolled in the course English Language II at the National University of La Plata in Argentina. This is a prestigious, public, access for all university in a developing country. The results corresponding to a culturally loaded text, written in English (a foreign language), are reported here. The selection, a fragment from Desert Wife (Faunce, 1961: 173-181), describes one Christmas celebration in a Native American context with an outsider perspective, i.e., with a narrator who participates in the celebration described but is not a member of the culture represented in the text. In reaction to this text the participants produced a response writing task in Spanish, a response writing task in English, and a visual reformulation (among other tasks), whose analysis serves as the foundation of this chapter. Data were analyzed in terms of culturally distinctive idea units and textual modifications (reader behaviors). Both measures of analysis (amount of free recall in the form of cultural idea units and the kind of information recalled in the form of reader behaviors) are consistent with Carrell (1984c), Steffensen, Joag-Dev and Anderson (1979), and Sharifian, Rochecouste and Malcolm (2004), among others. Results showed different levels of apprehension of cultural aspects during reading, i.e. different degrees of depth, complexity and details with respect to the cultural reality of the Navajos. In general, the approach to otherness was limited to the perception of what was exotic or exciting about the Navajo culture, without a genuine effort to become familiar with what was strange. The difficulty this population revealed in approaching otherness manifested itself in the abundance of stereotyped perspectives about the Native Americans in the written tasks produced.