Acculturation of ESL Learners in dissertation

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, notes at that there has been a "paucity of studies" on the effectiveness of video in teaching culture through foreign-language programs. Herron investigated whether students retain more ("little c") cultural "practices" or ("big C") cultural "products" by watching video in a second-language program (Herron, 1999, p. 522). Thirty-eight students were given a pretest before watching the 10 videos that were part of the French-language curriculum. Immediately afterward they were given a post-test. Interestingly, in terms of their evolving understanding of French culture, in 8 of the 10 total post-video quizzes, the students gave higher scores to their "little c" (understanding cultural practices) than to "big C" (cultural products). And 84.2% of the 38 students believed that the 10 videos showed "a lot or a vast amount" of little c (cultural practices in France) presented and 42.1% believed that "a lot or a vast amount" of big C (cultural products in France) was presented (Herron, p. 523). Moreover, 47.4% believed "a lot or a vast amount" of "little c" culture was "learned" and 23.7% believed "a lot or a vast amount" of "big C" culture was learned (Herron, p. 524).

Digital Video in Foreign Language Instruction: Ryu Kitajima, et al., present research into the use of "context-dependent authentic video" in foreign language instruction. By using "unscripted video footage" in foreign language instruction the learners reportedly acquire "culturally appropriate speaking and listening skills" (Kitajima, 1998, p. 37). The digital video clips (which students can access on their personal computers, stop, re-run, and fast-forward) assist students in figuring out "the meaning of unknown words" and help them "infer main ideas of communicative events" (Kitajima, p. 40). In fact digital video is useful, the authors insist, as an "advance organizer" to enhance the foreign language student's "cultural awareness" before they begin actual language instruction (Kitajima, p. 40). A pilot study at San Diego State University (8 students in a third semester Japanese course) had students individually shown a one-minute silent video that introduced Japanese roads (Kitajima, p. 43).

Students' comments vis-a-vis the short video clip showed they clearly pinpointed cultural differences in Japan (fewer traffic signals; no sidewalk for pedestrians, etc.). Not that seeing roads is all that crucial to learning the Japanese language; but Kitajima asserts that video clips could focus "on people in the target culture both as individuals (with particular personal traits, attitude, and preferences) and as representatives of more universal concepts (a store clerk dealing with a customer, a schoolteacher…in a classroom)" (Kitajima, p. 44). In the future students learning a second language could view video clips that have "participatory prompts" in the video that invite the user to offer opinions -- and a mechanism could be available allowing students to respond to the prompts, and store those responses digitally (Kitajima, p. 45).

Can Video Improve Intermediate-Level French Language…Competencies? In addition to newspapers, TV and radio, video should be a medium available to ESL students. In this article 51 intermediate French Language students were shown 8 videos and the long-term gain in "cultural knowledge and in the learning of cultural practices" -- based on the results of a post-test contrasted with a pre-test -- was significant (Herron, et al., 2002, p. 36). Cultural knowledge assists the learner in terms of foreign language teaching "at all levels," Herron, p. 36).

Changing Media Consumption in a New Home…. Wei-Na Lee et al. explain that when immigrants move into a new culture they often change the media they had been most accustomed to; but does this new exposure to a different media relate to acculturation of the new social norms? The survey that Lee alludes to involved 939 respondents from four sample groups: Hong Kong residents; Hong Kong residents who were long time immigrants to Canada; Hong Kong citizens who were new immigrants to Canada; and English-speaking Caucasian Canadians.

Among the agents that immigrants are affected by when they change cultures are family, peer groups, workplace and mass media; it is not secret that mass media influences are considered most powerful and pervasive among immigrants (Lee, 1994, p. 61). The authors state that Mexican-Americans prefer mass media to other agents as a way to become acculturated; Hungarian immigrants, too, find mass media most effective in identifying their new "cultural orientation" (Lee, p. 61). Surveys were conducted with individuals in the four groups referenced earlier; the long time Hong Kong immigrants and new Hong Kong immigrants and the Caucasian Canadians were all conducted in Vancouver, a city where 30% of all Hong Kong immigrants reside.

In Vancouver (during the time of the research) there were two Chinese TV stations (with 10 hours per day of Chinese programming), one Chinese radio station (12 hours a day of Chinese language programming) and five Chinese newspapers (each with a circulation of over 2,000 copies daily). The first section of the questionnaire sought to lean how the respondents used media; the second section of the questionnaire sought to understand to what degree immigrants were adopting to their new culture as contrasted with what aspects of their home culture they retained. About 300 Hong Kong residents were surveyed and 200 questionnaires were obtained from each of the three groups in Vancouver. Looking at minutes of watching television, Hong Kong residents spent the most time -- followed by "long time immigrants" and then the "new immigrants" to Canada from Hong Kong. The group that watched the least number of minutes of TV was the Caucasian Canadian group (Lee, p. 65).

As to time listening to the radio, the Caucasian Canadian group listened to radio the most of the four groups; Hong Kong recent immigrants were second and Hong Kong long-term immigrants were third. It is not surprising that recent immigrants from Hong Kong would watch more television than long time residents and Caucasians in Canada, because TV has the "richest set of communication cues and is used most heavily by immigrants for information and for entertainment" (Lee, p. 65).

The conclusion offered by Lee asserts that immigrant consumers tend to follow the same media habits that they had in their home country. But as to the question of whether they later assimilate to the media in their newfound culture depends on the media type, Lee explains on page 67. For the immigrants who had been in Canada from Hong Kong for at least seven years, their media acculturation habits changed, but very slowly, Lee explains (p. 67). That group's radio listening habits changed "very little"; this, according to the authors, shows that the theory that puts forth the notion that immigrant consumers will assimilate and begin behavior like "majority consumers after a few years" has flaws (Lee, p. 68). Further study is needed, Lee asserts, in order to determine if the slow assimilation (and ethnic affirmation) is due to immigrants' resistance to alter their media habits. That said, this study did in fact determine that immigrants from Hong Kong did not increase the total time they spend with media, even though the need for "more information in the new country" is a given (Lee, p. 68).

The other surprising aspect to this research is that after living in Canada for seven years or more, long time immigrants still spend 41% of their media time on ethnic media. Who benefits from this knowledge? Lee says advertisers should pay attention to the fact that these long time immigrants are apparently going to go back and forth between mainstream English language media and their own ethnic media. Indeed, the data shows that long time immigrants from Hong Kong use ethnic media more for entertainment purposes (humor and entertainment "are culturally loaded and difficult to appreciate cross culturally") and they use mainstream media of the host country for news and local updates (Lee, p. 68).

Changing Cultural Stereotypes Through the Dynamic of E-mails… Hiroko Itakura writes about research that involves a collaborative project between Hong Kong (Chinese) learners of the Japanese language at Hong Kong and native Japanese speakers at Kagoshima University (Japan). As do many other scholars, Itakura asserts that "enhancing cultural understanding" is a "crucial" part of foreign language teaching (Itakura, 2004, p. 38). Hence, attempts are made in many instances to have the learner embrace the culture of the country from which the language is being taught. Emails are used in this scholarship, and Itakura explains that the culture of the country from which the language is being taught should not be "seen as a static object…in favor or methods that focus on equipping learners with the means of accessing and analyzing any cultural practices and meanings they encounter" (Itakura, p. 38). Learners are actually becoming ethnographers and developing intercultural understanding of their own culture as well as the culture whose language they are learning. EFL university learners in Taiwan have recently been involved sending and receiving emails with "pre-service bilingual ESL teachers in the U.S." People from both cultures developed their own ways of interpreting the target culture (Itakura, p.…[continue]

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