*Aha moments*: Analysing development of critical cultural awareness

DRAL 2/ILA Conference 2014, King Mongkut’s University of
Technology Thonburi, Thailand, June 11-12
“Aha moments”: Analysing
development of critical
cultural awareness
Alison Stewart
Gakushuin University, Tokyo
Brenda Wright
University of Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu
 What do we mean by intercultural learning?
 How do people talk about their own culture?
 The Gakushuin-UMS Facebook Intercultural Exchange
 Analysing identity in Facebook exchanges
 Quantitative overview
 Qualitative study of identity negotiation in two extracts
 The widespread use of 2.0 web technologies provides
opportunities for intercultural exchanges between
students in different countries.
 However, such exchanges do not by themselves
necessarily lead to cultural learning or critical
awareness (Kern, 2000; Kinginger, Gourves-Hayward,
& Simpson, 1999).
 Why doesn’t simply talking about culture lead to
understanding and awareness?
Defining Critical Cultural
• Knowledge of self; skills to interpret, relate and
interact; valuing others’ values, beliefs and
behaviours and relativising oneself (Byram 1997)
“Third culture” or “third space”: a critical perspective
of one’s own and another’s culture (Kramsch, 1993)
Attitudes towards stereotypes measure cultural
learning (Ting-Toomey,1988)
Mindfulness: realising other points of view exist
(Ting-Toomey,1988 ) basis for intercultural
An ability to “manage” stereotypes (Lebedko, 2013)
Identity Management
 Identity Management Theory (IMT) (Cupach &
Imahori, 1993)
 Communicative competence requires individuals to
“successfully negotiate mutually acceptable identities
in interaction”
-cultural identity
-relational identity
 Identity categories:
-Individual Identity (I)
-Cultural/Relational identity (we)
-Objectivised Identity (they)
Research aims
 How are pronouns used to signal cultural identity?
How do learners shift between social group
(they/we) and (I) personal identification and what
are the implications of these shifts?
 What evidence is there of the development of critical
cultural awareness in their interlocutors?
Intercultural Facebook Exchange between
Malaysian and Japanese Students
 October, 2013 3-week Malaysian-Japanese exchange
collaboration trial project to enhance CCA
 Students 2nd year: 13 Malaysian, 20 Japanese,
 Culture defined: “social culture” (Williams, 1961) “a
description of a particular way of life”.
 Themes: University Life; University System; Education;
High School Life; Food; Children; Student Lifestyle;
Holidays; Job Hunting and Marriage Customs.
 Facebook exchanges coded for identity categories
Analysing Identity Categories
 Analysis Overview: Signaling identity in relation to own
B3. As Objective
Observer (they)
B1. As Individual (I)
B2. As Member of
Group (we)
Figure 1. Identity in relation to own Culture (n=119)
Qualitative analysis: analysing self-identity in FB transcripts
 Extract 1. Missed Opportunity
J3A: Wiki said that Malaysia’s culinary style has diversity. Malay food,
Javanese-influenced cuisine, Malaysian Indian food, Malaysian
Chinese food, Nyonya food, Sarawak Indigenous Cuisine. Which kind
of food is eaten the most out of these in Sabah?
M3: in sabah, most often i ate malay food n indian food
J3B: According to website, in Malaysia, Malaysian people often eat
beef, food that seasoned coconut milk and garlic and noodle. I feel
there are many traditional food in Malaysia.
M3: Yes, you are right... To name a few is for example like rendang,
nasi lemak, kuey tiaow noodles, nasi lemak, thosai, idli, chapatti...1
important note is that beef is only consumed by Malays and Chinese
but not the Indians, as cows are considered to be a holy symbol for
J3B: […] Also, I know there are restaurants serving foreign and fastfood restaurant like McDonald’s in Sabah.
 Extract 2. Breaking Through to New Awareness.
J6: Nice to meet you! I'm J…. I'm a university student studying linguistics and
English education. I like to learn many languages and have a little basic knowledge on
Indonesian. (I believe that Indonesian language has its origin in Malay.) I'd like to
know many things about Malaysia!!
M6: Hi! Nice to meet you too. I'm S…. […] I'm usually talk in Cantonese and
Mandarin. However, I'm study Malay and English since I was small. Malay may
some vocabulary is origin from Indonesian language. But, it got a lot of
J6: How often English is used/spoken in Malaysia? […]
M6: I'm not usually speak in English but I prefer it during typing a message and
my homework such as assignment and report.
J6: […] Typing a message means that you are communicating with others in
Sorry for many questions!
M6: YupXD However, most of the time I prefer to mandarin or Cantonese=D It's
fine. You can ask more from me. I will try to answer you^^
J6: You prefer to use Chinese to Malay language? So you can speak Malay and
Manadarin or Cantonese??
not a
M6: Yup^^ Malay, Mandarin and Cantonese. Because I'm a chinese Malaysian
Malay MalaysianXD. In Malaysia, We have Malay, Chinese, Indian which are the
3 main races.
J6: Thank you for your answers…I have another questions! […] 2. You said that
you are communicating with others on facebook. Are you communicating with others in
English? 3. You also said that you use computer to do your assignment, is that the
assignment of
English class?? How do you learn English in Malaysia?
M6: 2. Sometimes. If I feel english is hard for me to explain something, then I
will using Mandarin to communicate with others >< We have a lot of report to
write, and we can write either Malay or English. And I more prefer to write in
englishXD […] In uni, my lecture can either talk Malay or English. Then, the
notes are
always some in Malay and some in English. During our exam, it will
have a bi
language test paper. This is for us to choose either we more prefer to
Malay or English. And we can answer it either Malay or EnglishXD
J6: thank you for answer. To sum up, Chinese Malaysian students usually can
speak Malay, English, Contonese or Mandarin, and Malay Malaysian can speak
Malay and English.(or Malay Malaysian also can speak Chinese?) You can write
your homework either in English and Malay? Wow, that's cool..! I bet you do not
major in English, don't you? In Japan, it is generally only English major who can
do assignment in English. There are three races in Malaysia, Malay Malaysian,
Chinese Malaysian and Indo Malaysian. They communicate with each other in
Malay or English?? Every races can speak Malay language??
M6: Ya, every races can speak in Malay. When we try to communicate with
others, just
depends on yourself either you want to talk in Malay or in English. This
because we can understand bothXD. It's not many for me. Just ask any question
that you want to know. Ok?! ^^ I feel really nice when sharing all this to you~
 People shift their relational identity all the time in intercultural
 Failure to notice shifts in self-identity can result in
miscommunication/breakdown in communication.
 Attention to these shifts can lead to learning and critical
cultural awareness.
 In this study, CCA emerges as ability to notice interlocutor’s
identity shifts and to understand the implications of those
shifts, in other words “aha moments”.
 They become able to recontextualise top-down or
stereotyped views of culture in the light of bottom-up
perspectives, and to use emerging understanding to develop
new questions.
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Kramsch, C. (1993). Context and culture in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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(Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (pp. 71–92). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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