Visual Culture

Reflection on Michael Ryan’s chapter on Visual Culture with Brett Ingram in Cultural Studies – A Practical Introduction.

Visual culture is a field of study. Our life is visual. This encompasses television, films, advertisements, photographs, comic books … anything that relays its story through pictures and images rather than text and words. The chapter introduces The Skeptical Eye, which is to be critical and not believe everything you hear or see in the media. The media often creates a narrow sighted view of the reality, in which some people (mis)take for a fact. It is therefore important as a teacher to give a divers explanation to the students, so they understand that it is a dominated narrative. Having a skeptical eye on’ digital media (news, videos etc) is important to identify the sender of the message and understand the background and context of the dominant narrative represented.

In visual culture, the values that structure dominant narratives are often circulated through mythical stories that condense the complexities of existence into simplified conflicts between good and evil p. 139

Power Structures in Films
It is not just important in today’s media, but it is also not all bad. In contrast to previous (old-school) representations of women on screen: idealised mothers, supportive wives or whores, in Sex and The City the women are representing different and modern female perspectives/roles/personalities, e.g. The character Samantha, who is prioritising career and sex over creating a family – but she isn’t only portrayed as a woman who has sex with a lot of men – but a strong feminist character who is putting her own needs first.

When looking at the old Disney movies, there are plenty of stereotypical representations. One of the most criticised might be Alladin, introducing a lost list of stereotypes of Arab culture –  all the women a represented as sexy or erotic dancers, The Middle East is portrayed as a brutal place where the men are walking on cal, hypnotising snakes, crooks or sword-swallowers – besides the women that are sexy and dancing, the rest of them are covered up and doing laundry. And, finally, the princess Yasmin is seen as being in need of a man to control her.  The original lyrics of Arabian Nights included 

“I come from a land
From a faraway place
Where they cut off your ear
If they don’t like your face
It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.”
Though changed in 1993 as they were deemed racist.

Writing this reflection I stumbled upon these videos, which pretty much sums up the Disney issue, empathising that Disney has changed course to a degree, we now see female heroes in movies like Frozen or Brave.

Audience, Performance and Celebrity

Reflection on chapter 12 Audience, Performance and Celebrity from Ryan, M (2010) Cultural Studies: A Practical Introduction.

Only traumatised people want to be famous. – Alanis Morrissette

This chapter explores celebrity attachment as an essential part of psychological constitution, inasmuch as our lives start out being attached to another human’s body, then we grow being attached and depending on family, and later to friends and lovers, meaning that becoming human happens through our attachments; moving from a selfish core to a social, mediated, civil. Thus to some, identifying with a celebrity, gives guidelines and hopes for the future, in the same way as religion does. Celebrity attachment highly makes sense in the society of which not everyone gets to be important, fulfilled or recognised. So to identify with a star allows for momentarily changing into being someone else.

Further, the chapter presents the concept of moral sensibility, which is the hot topic of the gossip of, especially female celebrities, some classic examples that most of us know of would be Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Even due to the positive development of gender equality and women’s rights, women are expected to act and behave in a certain way – or – at least not do certain things. Female celebrities are often reminded to remember that they are role models for their fans.

Personally, I experience, that some of the women’s harshest critics are often other women, I also often see concept of feminism being turned into the hateful bashing of men (especially Caucasian and privileged men (who, by the way, was just born into this world like everyone else)) – there is still an imbalance between the way media portray female vs. male celebrities (and transgender celebrities for that matter as well). I won’t say too much about the following videos, they speak for themselves, but they are my arguments for the importance of bringing these issues into the classroom when talking about media, identity, and culture.

Listening & Speaking (TELL)

Reflections on the presentation by a student group on chapter 3 from the book Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL).

The chapter lays out a series of skills students need to acquire to improve their language proficiency, along with a series of technology-enhanced lesson ideas designed to help students improve those skills, and additionally, the chapter offers a range of internet- or technology-based tools and class exercises that are contemporary (available) and free to use. One example is, that it is suggested to use chatbots, as a means of language practise or improvement – so chatbots, along with other already available free technology tools, are already available and eve though they were made for something else, are really benificial to include in the language teacher’s classroom (even more so; BECAUSE they are not made for educating purposes).

Language acquisition:

1. Psycholinguistic (Kantor)

  • How the mind process language
  • Using our cognitive skills
  • perception, memory and thinking

2. Social features

  • Using the contextual situation as a way of understanding language
  • The environment, context, genre, subject

And happens on 3 different levels:

– (Psycholinguistic) Acoustic-phonetic professor (the voice in your head, interpreting accents, dialects and

– (Psycholinguistic) Parser (making it into words you know)

– (Social) Conceptualiser (contextual)

Listening strategies:

Listening strategies is good for compensating for lack of skills (fields).




Guessing the maning of words the listener is uncertain about, or has missed, from clues in the linguistic or non-linguistic context

Seeking clarification

Getting the speaker to repeat something which the listener has missed.


Rehearsing in your mind what speakers are likely to be going to say, in order to help you to understand better when they actually start speaking.


Concentrating and persevering despite problems with understanding. Trying to get the main idea and not worrying about understanding every word.


Speaking Skills

Core skill



Pronouncing vowels, consonants, and blended sounds clearly.
Using different intonation patterns to communicate old and new information.

Performance speech acts

Knowing how to make requests.
Knowing how to give opinions.

Managing interaction

Initiating, maintaining and ending conversations.
Turn taking.
Clarifying meaning.

Organising discourse

Using discourse markers and intonation to signpost changes of topic.
Being able to structure discourse for different communicative purposes such as stories or instructions.

Speaking Strategies



Cognitive (or psycholinguistic) strategies

Finding ways round a lack of vocabulary through paraphrases, substitution, coining new words, etc.

Metacognitive strategies

Planning or rehearsing what you are going to say.
Monitoring your language while you are speaking.

Interaction strategies

Asking for help.
Checking understanding.

Requesting clarification.

When carefully picked, the language teacher can actually use internet-based technology tools to start humanising the classroom again, instead of the contrary (and unfortunate) common belief, that, technology, iPads and so on, are bad for students, their attention span, etc.

One example I came to think of regarding this subject, is how Khan Academy is allowing students to keep track of their own individual learning curve meanwhile the teacher get’s to use their time on the students when and how they need to be helped.

A teacher’s reaction on using Khan Academy in his classroom (and curriculum):

A brief introduction to Khan Academy:

The Red Line

This reflection is based on the reading of The Red Line by Charlie Higson (origin; 1993, pub. René Bühlmann, 1995) and is different than my previous reflections in as much as I am proposing the usage of the short story in intercultural citizenship education as a part of English teaching.

Wikipedia: Red line, or “to cross the red line“, is a phrase used worldwide to mean a figurative point of no return or line in the sand, or “a limit past which safety can no longer be guaranteed.

The short story has a 3rd person narrator and happens in the tube of London – On the red line. The chapters of the short story are named of and in the same order of the stops of the tube. Following is a brief recap of the chapters:

Chapter: Oval
We find out, that the story takes place in London. We are in the head of an unnamed man. This 1st, an unnamed character is introduced and described as; male, white, pale, hairless (routine), perfectionistic, loves karaoke, infatuated w. Bob Seger, and hates change. We meet him in a situation, where his world has fallen apart as he finds, that the (/his) karaoke machine has been removed.

Chapter: Embankment
Now we are at the actual tube. The 2nd character introduced – we are now in his head; Berto – He is new in London visiting Cathy, from Venice — met Cathy there. Even though they are not on the tube, the 3rd & 4th characters are introduced; Cathy — English, in an open relationship, Cathy’s boyfriend; Talks a lot, friendly. Berto is confused about his relationship with Cathy and her relationship with her boyfriend. Upsets Cathy for an unknown reason and she leaves him alone on the tube in London.

Chapter: Leicester Square
Flashback to a situation where the unnamed guy tries to find a new karaoke place to sing Bob Seger at, he fails. We find out he is disgusted by people, as they are all ugly and hairy. 

Chapter: Goodge Street
Berto is trying not to panic at the tube — tries to gather the courage to ask anyone for help, is scared no-one will understand him. Is scared to be laughed at. He is considering the fellow-tube-riders; “Old people are all deaf, the middle-aged man is half asleep and must be a drunk, he wants to ask a sympathetic person, a young woman, she is probably nice.”

Chapter: Euston
Now the 5th character; Denise (the young woman on the train) — she is both paranoid and scared. She is interpreting Berto as; dark-skinned, dark eyes, looks a bit like a model, but like all men a potential rapistA 6th character is briefly introduced; Neil (Denise’s boyfriend) — thinks Denise should relax. The unnamed guy is described by Denise as having curly blond hair. Denise feels like the unnamed guy and Barto are staring at her in the tube and she is very uncomfortable.

Chapter: Tufnell Park
The unnamed guy feels stared at by both Denise (snotty girl) and Barto (greasy monkey) and is getting really worked-up in his own head about some tape, that he hopes is strong enough…

Chapter: Archway
Barto is listening to his cassette with an Italian voice trying to teach him English.

Chapter: Highgate
Barto has finally gathered the courage to ask Denise for help, but she sees him approaching as a nightmare (almost) coming true. She rushes out of the train (one stop too early) and up the stairs just to find that ‘the man’ (Barto) didn’t follow her. She is frozen by fear and starts crying.

Chapter: East Finchley
As Barto passes the unnamed man in the tube, regretting he didn’t follow Cathy or got to ask Denise for help before she got off, he walks in the opposite direction of the train. The unnamed man stabs Barto with a kitchen knife wrapped around his wrist with tape. Before Barto realises what is happening, he is left to die on the floor of the train, and whilst watching his own blood forming a red line, he suddenly remembers how he could’ve found his way back home to Cathy’s place.

The short story was in 2014 published as a short movie of just 19 minutes:

I haven’t been able to get a hold of the full 19-minute version of the movie, but I think a combination of first the short story, then watching the movie, would enable students’ awareness of prejudices. The story itself is written in an easily understandable English, and with a little help from a glossary list and/or repetition of the new vocabulary, I think the students would find it easy to identify the actions, different persons and perspectives within the story as listed above chapter per chapter. Thus after discussing the story thoroughly, the students have created images in their heads of both the characters and their situations, most likely many of them can identify with the fears of the characters – I think no one can say that they have never been there; on a train, judging someone or feeling irrational fear. These discussions are important, especially if we want the students to be able to reflect on their own behaviors and attitudes, past and future. And the end goal would be for the students to receive some sort of critical political awareness, for example combining this module with The Red Line, with continuing to discussing how the media (incl. the Red Line film) affects our perceptions of certain groups of people.

Intercultural Competence in Foreign Languages


Reflection on Michael Byram’s text, The Intercultural Speaker and the Pedagogy of Foreign Language Education, chapter 18 of Intercultural Competence in Foreign Languages.

“The weakness in education for citizenship is the assumption that the focus of attention should be local and national, that political literacy means knowledge about processes and institutions within one’s own school, neighborhood, and state/country, and activity should be focused at one or more of these levels. There is nothing surprising in this sense education systems are usually national and were formed with the intention of creating identification with nation-states. But this is now a weakness in the contemporary world of global economies and international organizations, both civic and political” – Michael Byram

The intercultural speaker is a speaker that possess a linguistic proficiency but also an intercultural competence when engaging cross-culturally, thus has no connection with the term native speaker. Michael Byram has created a 5-dimensional model (beneath) to showcase the desired skills of the intercultural speaker (or learner). The categories are divided as follow:

  • Skills of interpreting/relating
  • Skills of discovery/interaction
  • Attitudes-curiosity/openness

  • Knowledge
  • Critical cultural awareness

Worth stressing is, the final dimension mentioned, critical cultural awareness, can be compared to the German educational tradition Bildung aiming of encouraging learners to reflect critically on the society, and this is also one of the most important elements of intercultural citizenship education, thus the category/dimension is placed at the centre of the model, as it is absolutely essential to ensure language teaching has an intercultural – It is essential and ensures that language teaching has an intercultural educational purpose.

Model: Michael Byram’s ICC (Intercultural Competence)-Model

The additional dimensions don’t require a specific priority of the teacher, rather an individual “when it makes sense” implementation.

Worth noting is that Rathje (2007) and others criticise the term intercultural competence as there isn’t any officially-agreed definitive definition, which makes the teaching of it, too soft and unsystematic, thus the models or definitions thereof becomes a contradiction of itself according to Rathje.

“The problem with taking a national culture and identity as the basis for teaching intercultural competences is not, therefore, the problem of essentializing or reductionism. The problem lies in the exclusive focus on one identity and the assumption that, in interaction in a foreign language, it is the only identity present.” – Michael Byram

Discourses of Othering

Reflection based on Fred Dervin’s paper Discourses of Othering (2014) in International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction (WILEY-BLACKWELL).

“It’s easier to split an atom than a prejudice” – Albert Einstein

Because of students’ increasing intercultural contact in this globalised world, Fred Dervin is leading within the postmodern need to question and re-evaluate everything, and examines the concepts of culture, identity and collectivity and how to deal with these subjects in education. Out current education which is full of examples of historical labels of othering. E.g. Colonisations, indigenous people in Australia, Human zoos, South Africa’s Apartheid, etc. Where the othering identity markers include nationality, race, language, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc. Naturally, our educational institutions are only a representation of the current society, norms, and values thereof, and in there, exists a large variation of othering, both national and cultural:

  • Essentialism
  • Racism
  • Neo-racism (for which culture serves as a proxy for race)
  • Culturalism (culture as an explanation for all)
  • Ethnocentrism sexism
  • Exoticism
  • Islamophobia
  • Occidentalism (Dervin & Gao, 2012)
  • Orientalism

The other is been at the core of Human and Social Sciences (Interdisciplinary concept par excellence; psychology, sociology, philosophy – especially ontology, anthropology, linguistics, theology, archeology, history and gender studies).

Othering (sometimes written as otherising) is an interdisciplinary notion/topic that refers, amongst other things, to differentiating discourses that lead to a moral and political judgment of superiority and inferiority between ‘us’ and ‘them, and within groups. Critical approaches to mothering examine its construction in social interaction and take into account both power relations and the intersectionality of different identity markers. Researchers increasingly pay attention to their own contribution to othering. Othering can lead to racism, sexism and/or bigotry, thus has to be discussed, banished and fought against in educational discourses. Othering discourses that have led to acts such as hatred, killing, terrorism, slavery, genocides, etc., but in daily life show themselves as prejudice, power imbalance, discrimination and patronising attitudes.

Social representation (concept by psychologist Moscovici, 1961) is a system of values, ideas and practices that are shared by people and that enable them to grasp their world but also to interact with others — which is exactly what bothering allows in social interactions.

Thus being aware of the discourses of othering is important and relevant when teaching today’s students any subject, not just history.

“I emphasize in it [my Orientalism] accortdingly that neither the term Orient nor the concept of the West has any ontological stability; each is made up of human effort, partly affirmation, partly identification of the Other.”
―Edward Said

Transnationality, Globalisation, Postcoloniality

Reflection on the lesson and Michael Ryan’s chapter on Transnationality, Globalisation and Postcoloniality in Cultural Studies – A Practical Introduction.

How culture is both national and transnational
“Culture is often national in character. The culture of Japan is distinct in many respects from that of nearby China. The cultural traditions are different; the current political culture is different. If one moves a little further away, to Indonesia, say, or to India, the differences multiply – according to religion, food, tastes, languages, literary and musical traditions, and so on. But one would also find similarities between these very different national locations. The same shows might be on television, imports often from one country to the next, or the same Western-style clothing might be on sale in stores. On the radio, one might hear the same international pop music. In many places, culture is both national and transnational, a matter of local production or tradition and a matter of “flow” between nations” (p.170).

Definitions and examples:

• Cultural nationalist endorse the belief that states are politically sovereign entities with clearly defined borders, a unified political and economic system that affects all similarly, and a set of legal and cultural practices shared by its citizens.

• Large culture (essentialism) can be defined by ‘Landeskunde’ for example by demographic facts, closely linked to stereotypes when not talking about pure facts, whereas small cultures (non-essentialism) are cultures inside the large culture e.g. Indian tribes within the US.

National is ‘Landeskunde’ view of a nation, whereas regional is when looking at particular parts of a nation e.g. Chinatown in San Francisco and the Financial District in Manhattan.

• Globalisation means a world of ‘constant motion’. But, the movement of capital, migrants, goods, or information is not inherently free-flowing, libratory, or progressive, as neoliberal (pro-free market) ideology would have it. It operates within particular power structures and frameworks. The flow of good is subject to international tariff and agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

• Power structure: Google and Yahoo infamously entered the Chinese market under the condition that they ban access to all human rights-related sites or redirect the Internet traffic to pages favouring the views of the government. One of the most important arguments in cultural studies is that most of the global frameworks that regulate the flow of capital, goods, technology, and information (the World Trade Organisation, NAFTA, the World Bank, and so on).

 Colonialism refers to the domination of a nation, peoples, or society by another nation through political, military, and economic interventions; territorial expansion/occupation; and various strategies of cultural oppression and coercion (via language, cultural practices, control of media, knowledge, etc.).” (p.172).

• Power; Often a country but can also refer to a group of allied countries working together under the same leader. It refers to their respective influence on the world stage in international relations.

• DevelopmentTime moving forward with new things happening. Often positive, but not always.

• Economic exploitation refers to the usage of the colonized country’s resources such as money, land, people, and machines.

Cultural oppression is when a colonized nation can’t practice their culture because of their oppressors.

Postcolonialism = enduring effects of colonial domination e.g. contributions to national culture (p.173) i.e., the post in postcolonial implies the enduring effects of colonial domination, rather than the end of colonialism. The postcolonial approach in cultural studies acknowledges the power of such cultural exclusion and its lingering effects on cultures worldwide. To colonize is to deprive of land and resources, but also to control the representation of that experience.

“Blindness” in films; The media creates a reality that is often one-sided, as the leader/oppressor control the representation of the experience of being colonized for everyone involved. The “blindness” is the absence of the oppressed point of view in media. (p.173).

• The role of media and nationalistic cultural policies; “… regulating the media and limiting foreign content and foreign private company access to the indigenous cultural market. But with globalization has come an increased penetration of such national enclaves by new media such as satellite television that bring with it content that is distinctly “ modern ” and that is quite different from the local national culture or cultural experience.” (p. 174).

• A common world experience, juxtaposed to local cultural differences, has emerged
> “ The “ look ” of cities in China is increasingly the same as that of cities in the West, as entire old cities are razed to make way for buildings considered to be more modern.” (p. 174)

• The case of India in a transnational context: India is a good example of the diverse issues that arise in studying culture in a transnational context, as it is a postcolonial country (for centuries under British rule), which is reflected in the facts, that about 5% of the population speaks English and the national sport is cricket. Thus India was created (by the Brits) as a nation of many diverse ethnic, linguistic, cultural and regional parts. (p. 175).

On Intercultural Learning (Karin Risager)

This reflection is based on Intercultural Learning: Raising Cultural Awareness by Karen Risager (Roskilde University).

“Do we emphasize knowledge, whether in the form of facts or deeper insight? Do we favor attitudes and emotions in the cultural encounter? Do we focus on intercultural understanding via the reading of texts? Do we want to offer opportunities for personal intercultural experience and personal cultural encounters? Do we draw on the internet and new social media for intercultural learning? Are we interested in education for citizenship? Are we thinking of national, European, global citizenship, or a cosmopolitan identity? Intercultural learning can have many different objectives and can take many roads indeed.” (Risager 2012:152)

This text is an article that introduces the international field of culture pedagogy in foreign language teaching and learning. Risager presents the multidisciplinary nature of the field and an overview of its diverse development since 2000, thus includes a number of contemporary trends:

  • The increasing importance of postmodernism and its emphasis on the individual learner and his/her learning processes and intercultural competence
  • The development of cultural approaches to literature pedagogy working with the interplay of cultural perspectives
  • Ethnographic approaches to intercultural learning that enable learners to create their own insights into local cultural complexities (I took no notes on this as I didn’t find it interesting)
  • Ideas of critical citizenship that emphasise the importance of reflection, wondering, criticism and hope as a part of language and culture learning
  • The idea of culture in language (languaculture)
  • Transnational perspectives on language and culture learning, which foreground the transnational flows of languages across cultural contexts, and hence suggest a more global approach to language and culture learning and the raising of multicultural awareness

Historical Perspective: Modernism to Postmodernism
Not until the 1960s did the content of language teaching go beyond literary education as such, but onwards the cultural dimension was introduced gradually to a broader sense inasmuch as the culture teaching or culture pedagogy was crystallised into a more or less independent discipline. Language pedagogy and culture pedagogy did not, however, have much to do with each other until the 1990s labeled as “intercultural learning”. Obviously as of today’s common knowledge and global awareness, the culture pedagogy is drawing on humanities and/or social sciences (category 1), whilst some also draw on the developments of linguistics (category 2).

The first category (also the oldest) has a holistic view of language learning, not just a man or language learner, but as someone who also develops other facets of the personality in connection with language learning – especially a greater knowledge and understanding of the world. This category of culture pedagogy is particularly interested in teaching about cultural and societal conditions in the countries where the target language is spoken as the first language. Content and themes (text and methods) within this type of culture pedagogy has a broad horizon and covers e.g. everyday life, technology, politics, economics, music and art, subcultures and educational conditions.The second category (drawing upon developments within linguistics) tends to focus more instrumentally on the practical knowledge that the language users have to possess in order to communicate effectively with the aid of the target language. This category manifested itself in the 1970s in connection to the work done by the Council of Europe to develop communicative skills and mobility within the European Common Market.

In the 1990s the interest in intercultural learning and cultural pedagogy took off as many began to see intercultural learning as an integral part of language teaching. Key influencers at the time, that are still relevant: Kramsch (1993) and Byram (1997).

The ICC-Model
Byram presents a model of comprising five components/dimensions in intercultural communication:

interpret and relate (savoir comprendre)


of self and other;
of interaction: individual and societal (savoirs)


political education
critical cultural awareness (savoir s’engager)

relativising self-valuing other (savoir être)

discover and/or interact (savoir apprendre/faire)

The history of culture pedagogy can be interpreted as a fight between modernism and postmodernism. The modernist identity was predominant until some time in the 1980s and has to do with an emphasis on the content dimension. From the 19080s onwards the postmodernist tendency was added and gradually came to dominate culture pedagogy as we know it today, but without completely ousting the older view e.g. we still use textbooks and official syllabuses which tend to emphasise knowledge og society. The postmodernist tendency emphasises the learning processes and the raising of cultural awareness through teaching. It also focuses on diversity in the individual students’ qualifications and life experiences, attitudes, emotions, and

their ability to understand and deal with “the other” i.e. their ability to mediate between various languages and various cultural contexts. Interestingly: The interest in poetics and narrativity were also a part of this development: playing with language, with different perspectives and voices, with imagined worlds (Kramsch:1993)

Critical Citizenship
This is a ‘movement’ of culture educationalists that are especially interested in developing a more politically-oriented dimension of intercultural learning; critical citizenship in an intercultural world to provide students with resources for reflection, wondering, criticism and hope to awaken their commitment to transformative action and border crossing. Human rights education and education for democratic citizenship are some of the most common themes. Key influencers on this subject besides Byram (1997/2008) are Guilherme (2002), Starkey (1996) and already in the 1960s Doyé (1966).

Culture in Language (Languaculture)
Kramsch empathises (1993) that language and especially language in discourse is a culture in itself. So when one teaches language in discourse, one, in fact, teaches culture. Meaning that Kramsch does not distinguish between language and culture nor between language teaching an culture teaching. Other people that share this view concerning introducing of culture-in-language in language teachings are: Risager (2006/2007) and Crozet & Liddicoat (2000).

Risager analyses the concept of langaculture in three interconnected dimensions:

  • The semantic-pragmatic dimension has to do with connotations of words and utterances in use — linked to linguistic anthropology and cross-cultural semantics and intercultural pragmatics.
  • The poetic dimension has to do with the aesthetic uses of language in play, ritual, and art — linked to the study of literature.
  • The identity dimension has to with the social and cultural significance of the choice of language or variety of language — linked to sociolinguistics (especially social meaning and relations between language and identity).However, all of these dimensions will — naturally — be affected by the fact that we draw upon our knowledge (languaculture) of our first language (mother tongue), when one learns a foreign language.


Transnational Perspectives
Introduced by Risager, this perspective empathises the fact, that language is not only spoken in the target language countries. Almost all languages except the very small and isolated, are spoken all over the world as a result of people on the move. When taking the transnational flow of languages into account, culture pedagogy does not need to limit itself to an exclusive focus on national culture and society of a target country — rather it can be more flexible and open to the needs and interests of both teachers and learners.

Fun fact: Danish is taught in more than 25 countries and at more than 100 universities and institutes.


Analysis of Gyldendal Fagportral

This reflection encompasses the analysis of a teaching material / sequence platform conducted during a lesson.

Teaching Sequence: Southern Africa (for lower secondary school)

Link to the sequence:

The views on culture presented in the analysis will be marked by colours according to this order:

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After working with this topic, you should have a knowledge of the recent history of Southern Africa, especially of the countries of South Africa and Zimbabwe, and an understanding of how the interactions between native populations and European colonizers have shaped the modern societies that have now emerged in these countries.

Assessment Criteria:

  1. You should be able to understand both the gist of and specific information in texts on the subject of Southern African history and modern society in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

  2. You should be able to express your knowledge, ideas and opinions concerning aspects of Southern Africa’s history, development and current situation, and take part in discussions on the theme.
  3. You should be able to understand and make active use of a relevant vocabulary within the theme of Southern Africa’s history and development.
  4. You should have a knowledge of the way that historical events can influence the development of a country and the relationship between its citizens. You should also be able to relate this knowledge to your own life and experiences in Denmark.


2) Views of culture

Video from lesson 1:


  • European imperialism in Africa: Has a transnational and perhaps non-essentialist narrative perspective on the story of European imperialism in Africa, even though colonial history consisted of multiple, different European countries, conquering multiple different African countries.



Comprehension questions

There’s a national view since the questions are about a specific area.


1. How long did the colonial period in Southern Africa last?
2. Which countries in Southern Africa were British colonies?
3. Why did the British quarrel with the Dutch colony in Southern Africa?
5. What was the result of the Boer wars?


3) Identity and process of othering

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From lesson 2: Apartheid in process: An example of the “othering” that took place in the European narrative of black people.

Ellen Richardson: (description with representations without intersectionality – the subtextuality seems to be that she doesn’t agree with the acts)

Under Apartheid, people in South Africa were classified as belonging to a particular racial group: White, Black, Asian (or Indian) or Coloured. According to the Group Areas Act of 1950, the various racial groups had to be physically separated from each other. This meant that the country was divided into areas that were especially reserved for particular racial groups. Identity documents for Black and Coloured (othering and large-culture essentialism) people stopped them from moving into “White” areas. Sometimes members of the same family were classified in different racial groups and were forced to live apart.

It was difficult for non-White people to work in “White” areas. They had to have special permits and could not usually bring their families with them.


4) Representations (intersectionality/subtextuality)


Picture from ‘Apartheid – the background’

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This picture shows a representation of the South African people, both black and white fighting against the Apartheid.     

5) Intercultural narratives and discourses – language use in texts and media.

Heart of darkness (Book), Joseph Conrad (also identity and othering), ex. It tells a story from a time when native peoples of the African continent was considered savages.

Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, `When I grow up I will go there’.

Common Objectives for English after 7th grade
The teaching sequence is working towards the following Common Objectives within the “culture and society” field marked in bold:

Kultur og samfund Eleven kan indgå i enkle kulturmøder ved brug af forskellige medier Interkulturel kontakt Engelsk som adgang til verden Tekst og medier
1. Eleven kan give eksempler på forskelle og ligheder mellem kultur- og samfundsforhold i eget land og i engelsksprogede områder Eleven har viden om enkle kultur- og samfundsforhold i engelsksprogede områder Eleven kan deltage i udveksling af enkel information og produkter med elever i udlandet Eleven har viden om metoder til udveksling af information Eleven kan genkende typer af fagtekster på engelsk Eleven har viden om sproglige træk ved fagtekster
2. Eleven kan fortælle om kulturelle forskelle og ligheder i enkle kulturmøder Eleven har viden om udvalgte kultur- og samfundsgrupper Eleven kan med forberedelse og støtte bruge engelsk til internationale henvendelser Eleven har viden om engelsk som lingua franca Eleven kan sammenligne typer af fiktive tekster på engelsk Eleven har viden om enkle genretræk ved fiktionstekster
3. Eleven kan indgå i enkle forberedte kulturmøder Eleven har viden om sproglige regler, normer og værdier hos udvalgte grupper Eleven kan tage initiativ til kommunikation med personer i udlandet Eleven har viden om forskellige medier som adgang til international kontakt Eleven kan anvende varierede teksttyper i forskellige medier på engelsk Eleven har viden om sammenhæng mellem genre, indhold og formål


Intercultural Learning

Reflection on the first lesson we were introduced to Michael Byram.

The Intercultural Speaker

An intercultural speaker is, according to Byram, a substitute for what used to be strived for (native speaker). “The phrase intercultural speaker was coined by Byram and Zarate in a working paper written for a group preparing what eventually became the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages of the Council of Europe (2001).“ (Byram, p.321). An intercultural speaker is – simply – a person who posses intercultural competencies. An intercultural speaker knows about conventions of communication and evaluation of phenomenon and knows about social distinctions and their principal markers.


Mediating between cultures/nations

Mediating between cultures is something that occurs when two interlocutors communicate and misunderstandings in fx. cultural differences are apparent. The resolvent of those misunderstandings by an intercultural speaker with strong intercultural competence is called mediating.


Shift towards students’ learning process

Due to a paradigm shift, there was a change in the view on teaching in general, where the focus shifted from teaching being content centered, to being student-centered.


Byram’s 5 Dimensions of the ICC-Model and Common Objectives to match

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  1. Skill of interpreting/relating: Eleven har viden om potentielle konfliktpunkter i kulturmøder
  2. Skills of discovery / interacting: Eleven kan agere i spontane internationale kulturmødes
  3. Knowledge: Eleven har viden om sproglige regler, normer og værdier i forskellige kulturer og samfund
  4. Attitudes: Eleven nysgerrig efter at høre andre typer af engelsk
  5. Critical Cultural Awareness: Eleven kan give eksempler på forskelle og ligheder mellem kultur- og samfundsforhold i eget land og i engelsksprogede områder. Eleven kan vurdere engelsksprogede tekster i forhold til genre og sprogbrug.


Criticism of the ICC-Model

The model has been criticised for its national orientation and ‘knowledge of the dominant culture in society’ (Matuso, 2012; Risager 2007; Spitzberg & Changnon, 2009) because the national and holistic perception of culture may lead to stereotyping and essentialist interpretations of intercultural encounters.


Intercultural Citizenship Education in Foreign Language Education

The undeniable structure of our societies, in the western world, is that of a multiculturalistic society. As the text mentions students, up until the paradigm shift, were not familiar or in direct contact with political processes: in Europe, there was a need to educate whole populations about the meaning of democracy, as many people had grown up without access to democratic processes.

There was a need to educate for an active citizen that could take part in society. Such a citizen is to be equipped with rational thought and critical evaluation of the subject matter. The intercultural citizenship term is an awareness that to be this active citizen in a multiculturalistic society, we need to be able to properæy “deal” with the diverse and plentiful cultures they will meet in their everyday life in their own society. As well, it’s important to note that we educate not only national citizens, but, more so and in addition to, global citizens, and these as well, perhaps even more so, need to be equipped with these skills, knowledge, and attitudes.
Critical cultural awareness according to Alred et al. promotes the importance of individuals being aware of their own ideology – political and/or religious – and the need to be explicit about and justify one’s criteria for evaluating other people’s actions, or the documents and events of other cultures, as well as one’s own (Alred et al., 2006, p. 124).