Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Teaching How to Discriminate: Globalization, Prejudice, and Textbooks

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Teaching How to Discriminate: Globalization, Prejudice, and Textbooks

Article excerpt

Language education is a complex social practice that reaches beyond teaching and learning phonology, morphology, and syntax. Language is not neutral; it conveys ideas, cultures, and ideologies embedded in and related to the language, so that language education needs to be examined not only on the purely linguistic level, but also on the broader social and political level. One of the social and political factors that influence language education is governmental policy. Language education is often subject to explicit policy decisions made by governmental bodies. This study seeks to unveil the influence of South Korea's globalization policy on the content of government-approved South Korean high school EFL (English as a Foreign Language) textbooks. I will examine the ways in which globalization is reflected and promoted in the textbooks. In doing so, I will investigate popular social perceptions about globalization in South Korea and interpret textbook contents within unique South Korean social and historical contexts. Then the implications of this study will be discussed with respect to the role that all teacher educators need to play in encouraging pre-service teachers to examine instructional materials through a critical lens.

Many researchers have examined the social and political aspects of language education and the crucial roles that governments play in shaping the implementation and practice of English as a Second Language (ESL)/English as a Foreign Language (EFL) education (Recento, 2000; Recento & Burnaby, 1998; Tollefson, 1991, 1995, 2002; Tsui & Tollefson, 2007). For example, learning and using English tend to exacerbate the negative residual effects of colonialism in many Asian and African countries, including India, Hong Kong (Pennycook, 1994, 1998), Sri Lanka (Canagarajah, 1999), and Tanzania (Vavrus, 2002). The English language is also invariably related to the historical imperialism of two powerful countries--the United States and Britain (Pennycook, 1994, 1995, 1998; Phillipson, 1992). These two countries have used both implicit and explicit policies with regard to the promotion of English that were designed to promote national interests (Phillipson, 1992, 1994).

Globalization

Discourse on globalization tends to center on new and internationalized consumption patterns, global markets, workers, and cross-national investments (Burbules & Torres, 2000; Short & Kim, 1999). Telecommunications such as the Internet and the World Wide Web, the rise and proliferation of supranational organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Funds (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), and blurred distinctions between international and domestic affairs (Short & Kim) also figure prominently.

However, this broad-spectrum sketch often fails to capture the complexity of globalization, and offers little information on the means by which globalization takes place within the boundaries of a given society. What is needed is an in-depth interpretation of cultural globalization that highlights the particular way that each society experiences globalization (Capella, 2000; Luke & Luke, 2000; Pike, 2000). Cultural globalization cannot be fully understood without thorough discussions of the unique social, political, economic, and historical factors that interact within a given society. This approach is sometimes called glocal (Burbules & Torres, 2000), hybridization, creolization, or reterritorialization (Short & Kim, 1999). From this perspective, it is too simple to explain the complex mechanisms of globalization merely as, for example, Americanization/Westernization. For a thorough analysis of globalization, it is necessary to include situated and local uniqueness (Capella, 2000; Luke & Luke, 2000; Pike, 2000), since globalization is not itself a unified global phenomenon in any case (Burbules &Torres, 2000). This point of view serves as guidance for the present study, as I attempt to analyze situated meanings of the contents of South Korean high school EFL textbooks. …

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