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Briton in space, multlingualism and intercultural competence

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015, 17:44

I suppose I am showing my age if I state how interested I have always been by space exploration.  So, I have been very interested in newspaper coverage and television coverage of Tim Peake's flight.

One of the aspects that drew my attention was his need to study Russian during his training,  This was not surprising as he is traveling in a Russian craft and the Star Gazing programme last night mentioned how Russian is naturally the working language for the Soyuz flights although English will be used on the ISS.  The international nature of the ISS also presumably means there would need to be a high degree of intercultural competence on the part of the cosmo/astronauts.

Probably most viewers would have been aware of his physical, psychological and scientific skills but linguistic and intercultural competence must also be vital for these cosmo/astronauts.

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New courses about to start

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 29 Sep 2015, 17:46

I am about to start tutoring on courses about to enter new presentations (E852. L161, LB160, L185).  It is slightly confusing that for some courses, I can post introductory messages on the Tutor Group Forum but students cannot reply - I am not really sure why this distinction is made.

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Patrick Andrews, Sunday, 4 Oct 2015, 14:46)
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EMA results

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EMA results for several courses I teach (L161, L185 and E303) have recently been released.  There is very strong correlation between high scores and attendance at tutorials (either face to face or OU Live).  Of course, this does not prove causation as the students getting high marks might be those who are most motivated or at least those most able to devote time to the course.  However, it is an interesting link.

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Language choice and identity in a recent novel.

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I am currently reading The Mersault Investigation (Daoud 2014, trans 2015).  This is a telling of the story of Camus' L'Etranger from the point of view of the brother of the murdered Arab.  There is the following a very interesting passage, where the narrator discusses the way that he uses a different language (I assume French) from his mother (I assume she speaks Arabic):

"And for a long time, she would make me feel impossibly ashamed of her - and later it pushed me to learn a language that could serve as a barrier between her frenzies and me.  Yes, the language.  The one I read, the one I speak today, the one that's not hers.  Hers is rich, full of imagery, vitality, sudden jolts and improvisations, but not too big in precision.  Mama's grief lasted so long that she needed a new idiom to express it in.  In her language, she spoke like a prophetess, recruited extemporaneous mourners, and cried out against the double outrage that consumed her life: a husband swallowed up by air, a son by water.  I had to learn a language other than that one.  To survive.  And it is the one I'm speaking at the moment.  Starting witrh my presumed fifthteenth birthday, when we withdrew to Hadjout, I became a stern and serious scholar.  Books and your hero's language gradually enables me to name things differently and to organise the world with my own words"  (page 37)

The extract shows how people can choose languages or varieties of language to mark difference or, in more extreme cases, create barriers.  Here, he seems to want to make a barrier and mark the diffeernce between himself and his mother.  He seems to be wary of her emotion and links this to the language and this gives him the motive to use French, which is seen as more precise.  The precision also seems to be used in contrast with the "richness" of his mother's langugae,  It is also interesting that he refers to being able to "organise the world with his own words".  Again this might be a contrast with the world that her mother lives in (and perhaps the word "improvisations" is significant, suggesting unpredictability.

This passage seems to have relevance to many of the OU's languages courses such as L161 and E301.

Reference:

Daoud K (2014, trans 2015) The Mersault Investigation London: Oneworld




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Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters

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The new L161 course makes use of the Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters (Byram et al 2009).  It seems to be a useful document in that it provides a framework for the analysis of intercultural encounters.  However one aspect slightly puzzles me and that is the use of the question "Who am I?".  Thinking about significant intercultural encounters I have had, it appears that they change who I think I am and I would think the relevant question would be "Who was I?".

It seems to make use of the principles of reflection dealing with "what?", "so what?" and "now what?" (Barrett 2001).  The first stage after the "Who am I?" section involves describing the encounter (page 6).  The section on the importance (page 7) deals with the question "so what?" .  The section on "looking back and looking forward" (page 18ff) seems to deal with the issue of "now what?".

 

Barrett, H.C. (2001) “Electronic Portfolios: a chapter to be published in Educational Technology: an Encyclopedia [online] Available from http://electronicportfolios.org/portfolios/encycentry.pdf (Accessed 28 October 2007)

Byram M, Barrett M, Ipgrave J,  Méndez García M de C, Buchannon- Barrow E, Davcheva L, Krapf P, Leclercq J-M (2009) Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters Council of Europe Available at http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/autobiography/Source/AIE_en/AIE_autobiography_en.pdf [Accessed October 21st 2014]

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L161 briefing

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 22 Sep 2014, 16:37

I was in Milton Keynes for a briefing for tutoring on this new course (L161 Exploring Languages and Cultures) on Saturday.  It looks like a very interesting course and I think students should be looking forward to doing it.

There are examples from many different languages and text types.  For example, there is an interesting analysis of different kinds of menus in different kinds of contexts where it is pointed out that the categories expected on menus in Britain and the ordering of these is not the same on Chinese menus.

 

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