EN3: Reflections

Class reflection The 18th to 25th of august

Coffee crisis Part 1

This is a special portfolio reflection, because a crisis happed the two first weeks of this semester. In part 1 I will explain the crisis and how Lone handle it, and in part 2 I will reflect on pros and cons of Lone’s way of doing it. I will also reflect upon how I would have done in her situation. It has to be said that the coffee in this case should be understood in a broader sense than just coffee in the reflection.

The big crisis was that the cantina was closed and that means a lack of coffee and a lot of students complaining. People were joking about if Lone could steal coffee from the teachers’ lounge that she would be the best. So after a break Lone came back with two pots of coffee and cops for everyone (Except the tea drinkers i.e. me) and of cause Lone became the hero of the day.

The day after this lesson we had the European teacher module where Lone instructed us in working with our intercultural competence. This day Lone was again convinced to brig coffee with her for the class, but she couldn’t because there weren’t any pots for the coffee in the teachers’ lounge. Her solution was to sneak us (4 of the students) in to the teachers’ lounge and use the coffee maker (that also made tea) there. When we came up, with our coffee and tea, a student felt left out and Lone went down with her, so everyone got there coffee fix.

With great difficulty Lone also got us coffee on Thursday. The difficult part was that she had to wait until her boss left the room and then the fountain of coffee had to stop because she was told off.  In part 2 I will reflect upon the coffee crisis.


Class reflection The 18th to 25th of august

Coffee crisis Part 2

This coffee heroism that I wrote about in part 1 happen a couple of times until Lone was told off and had to stop. The reason I wanted to write about this is because I would have handled it very differently, but that might not be the best way. The way I would have handled this, is probably the easy way, I would not have given my students coffee, and maybe in sympathy left mine in the teachers’ lounge, but giving us the coffee has some really positive effects, even for a tea drinker. When I talked to Lone about writing this reflection she started laughing and I think she might have been a bit nervous, but she gave me permission, but also added “I have never done this before”. I don’t think she herself had reflected upon this before I wanted to wright about it but she whet on to say “Well, I even gave you an ice cream, didn’t I. So I guess I just like to be around you.” I would say that by bringing the coffee Lone establishes a closer bond to her student by giving us a gift, which makes us fell special and all students like that, and perhaps Lone also fells that we are a special class like she says. Giving us this coffee also gives us a sort of secret and by giving us something we can’t tell we also get togetherness in the classroom and that can be very fun.

Of cause I do also have some concerns if I were to bring this in to my classroom. The reason why I initially wouldn’t do this is because it is not aloud! Maybe, I care too much about the rules, and if we look at it the coffee hasn’t cost a lot for the school and Lone isn’t in a lot of trouble, so what was the harm. My second concern was the pressure that Lone experienced from the class. The first time it was a gift, but after a couple of times the students started to expect it and that could make it a bit hard to say no. Lone was also apologetic when she couldn’t stall coffee because her boss was in the room, and maybe felt the pressure for the disappointed students. My last concern is probably not as important on this level of education, but if I were to do something like this in one of my classrooms then it might slip out that I treat my classes differently and create a class that dislike me because I didn’t treat them as well, as the other class.

I don’t really have a conclusion. This is just some of my thoughts on the subject, but I do think that working with this and seeing it in the classroom setting I am more open to the idea of doing something like this myself.  Of cause it won’t be giving my students coffee, but making them feel special in this way can be good.


Class reflection  1st of September

Looking at the world form different angels  

“The study of signs and representation and how they are connected to power has been central to the Cultural Studies.” – Svarstad, 2016

In this lesson we looked at analyseing representations in textbook and platform material for English language teaching and worked with Chimamanda Adichies TED-talk “The Danger of a Single Story” that I reflected on in my PL2 logbook. But what I really want to wright about is something Lone also took time to talk to me about in class even though it wasn’t the assignment, and I found it very helpful in the development process.

During the lesson I came up with an excise to show eurocentrisme and a very visual way of showing that we have different views of the world. Very simply put I would have the students draw the outline of a world map (I guess that they will draw Europe in the middle). I would then show them a eurocentrc map on the smartbord, but also show them an American map (America in the middle), Chinese map (China in the middle) and an Australian map (South being up). I might even find a globe and show that Greenland isn’t as big as Africa as it is offend depicted on a flat map of the world.

The point of this excise is to show the students that just because everyone in this class drew the map the same way is not how the rest of the world sees it. I want to show that they are effected by their culture even without knowing it.


Class reflection 8th of September

Writing skills

This morning I had a presentation about Writing Skills that we had read abort in Alice Walker and Goodith Whites Technology Enhanced Language Learning. This presentation went fine, but I still have some thinks I would like to improve in my own teaching and in my group we also discussed some of the choices we, as individuals, have taking without realizing it in our teaching; Like how do you present? How much do you go in to the groups and guide them? What do I do if the students haven’t understood the task? And I fond those discussions very enlightened.

On a personal note I would like to look at, first and foremost, I would have liked to prepared and know the subject a bit better. This is of cause a very subjective issue, because I knew what I needed to say and what that means, but I don’t feel I have been working in depth with it.

Secondly, I feel that I was very much dominating the presentation, and I need to work on how I can relax if my group mates say something I don’t agree with. I like it best if I can control everything, but that is not going to be the case when I become a teacher so I need to become better at take it as it comes.


13th of Septemper

Resources for Intercultural Language Learning

My reflections on Textbooks as resource in Chapter 6 in Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning by Liddicoat and Scarino

Traditionally, English as a second language teaching followed a textbook and maybe the teacher would supplement the textbook with other texts, video or audio, but this is not the ideal way of teaching intercultural competence. According to Kramsh textbooks have 3 main flaws by their very nature:

Firstly, textbooks cannot engage the students, like actively taking part in a cultural exchange. If student only reed about culture they don’t develop their own cultural competence. Secondly, the textbook materials look upon similarities or/and differences from the learners language and culture to the target languages language and culture. Thirdly, Kramsh argues that even the best selected materials has been selected and limits the diversity and variability that can be found.

Besides these points the chapter also talks about how textbooks often give a very stereotypical look at the target culture and does not see the complexity that all cultures have. The textbook are often based on a more Landeskunde way of looking at culture, which looks at culture but not the intercultural aspect. This is why choosing your materials as a teacher is so important.

Personally, I like to make my own teaching sequences, but this is not always possible in the Danish folkeskole, because time is limited. I have decided that I want to try to make every other teaching sequence myself and the rest should be from internet platforms or textbooks. This chapter has made me reflect on how I choose my materials and how I upgrade or fit it to my classroom. I will definitely look at how culture is being presented in the material, but there are also so many other thinks to look at, like how does it work with students with Danish as a second language? Does it incorporate movement? What FFM does this teaching sequence cover? Of cause a lot of these problems can be takin in to account when fitting it to a specific class, but then I wonder: When is it easier to make your own teaching sequence?


22th of November

Post-coloniality

My reflections on Transnationality, Globalization, and Postcoloniality, Chapter 14 in Cultural Studies -A Practical Introduction by Malden Ryan and Hanna Musiol.

There are many different ways of viewing culture. It can be national culture, transnational culture or a sub-culture. This chapter revolves around some very important words in culture studies like Globalization, which is the flow of culture across borders, Transnationality which is cultural trades we share with our neighbouring countries, and post-colonialism, that dell with a superior power and the after math of colonisation.

One of the points that peeked my interest was post-colonialism and how colonialism might actually still affect the world today.  I have been to several old colonies and seen the architecture and street names, but I never thought much about the mark that the British or French left behind that wasn’t visible. Colonialism implies that a dominant power overtakes land and resources and want to sprees there ways of living. As I see it this goes hand in hand with the fascination with western culture and ideals that you can see around the world. I especially think about this western power when I think of beauty ideals.

On my travels I have been seen as beautiful and people have stopped me on the street for a picture with a complete stranger. In Denmark I’m average looking and no one would stop on the street to introduce them self. I never really understood why the western or Nordic look was seen as beauty around the world and even in places where that beauty standard is unachievable. It might have some think to do with the power dynamics that were establish in the colonial times, the white powerful man that knows how to be civil and that can show the natives how to live. This is also a power dynamic that we still see today in “Save the starving children of Africa”- commercials and so many other places. It shout be noted that the western beauty stands in non-western countries might be because we want what we can’t have, like many Danes wants a nice sun tan but mostly get a sun burn.

I would like to explore this topic further, in my year plan, and work with beauty standers and different cultural and historic views on beauty and how there isn’t and objective beauty, but you can read about that in my year plan.


Class reflection the 24th of November

Essentialism and non- essentialism view of cultur

This lesson was a small lesson where we focused on our Eroupean Teacher module and our own intercultural competence. We worked with the Council of Europe’s “Autobiography of Intercultural Encounters” and had a look at “AIE Self-study course for educators.”

It has been a long time we have had a structured English lesson and therefore I have seem to have forgotten some basic terms when speaking about culture studies, and I still struggle with using them in a sentence. My group and I had a really good talk with Lone about essentialism and how you can have an essentialist or non essentialist view of cultur, acording to Holliday.

The essentialist view of cultur is that a cultur is basted in a physical place, that you can go visit and it is a homogoeneous population.  We ofent talk about contries and that the physical border seperats two compleaty diffrent culturs. The essentialist view of cultur is also very simmelar to a largs culture approach and a statick view of cultur, but the terms are not the same, but I still can’t tell them apart.

The non essentialist view of cultur is the one that is more complicatet, because a cultur is not neatly waped in a contry, like in the essentialist view. Here we look at cultur as something that shapes the peopel and that peopel shapes, it is a social force and it is not bonud by physical borders. This view also shares a linkness to the the small cultural approach  and  the statick view of cultur.

The terms are still not clear to me and I still felt unsure to use them in an academic dissection. This might be a good thing, because I am reminded of how my future students fell when they have to try out there hypotheses, and I just have to try and be brave.


Class reflection the 30th of November

Transnationality, Globalisation & Postcoloniality


Class reflection on the 8th of December

Presentation from Kristine Langstrup

In today’s lessen we had a lot of time to cach up on our theme and year plan which was really nice, even though I have done most of it all ready. Giving time in class seems like a gift to me, because it gives me time out side of class where it is sometimes very hard to have time to do all of our preparation thorough and I like helping my classmates.

We also had a presentation from Kristine Langstrup who is an English teacher in Hørsholm for the oldest kids in folkeskolen and she also functions as an IT- pedagogical consultant. We had two presentations from Kristine one on some of her teaching sequences where she uses the smartboard as an active tool with excises and of cause likes. I have never seen how many ways the smartboard can be used and I would love to try it out. Because of my dyslexia I am very concerns about doing most of my teaching in front of the entire class on a PowerPoint show because it is not very dynamic, but I defiantly want to work with the smartboard program.

In Kristines presentation we were also saw some of the students “diaries” were they had to write after every lesson and at the end of the teaching sequence they had to do a screencast of it where they read it out loud. I really like the idea of hearing the student oral English combined with their written work and this might also make it easier for me to get through. When I look at student’s texts I often have a difficult time understanding where they want to go in a sentence with and my hope is that when I hear how they read it that it will be easier.

After lunch Kristine gave a short introduction to MinUddanels. I have heard many bad things of it and how it took so much time of the teacher’s time, but it seemed very easy and I really like the visual layout. Afterwards Kristine went around and had a talked about our Themes and gave some guidance. You can see the theme her.


The 19th of December

Assessing intercultural competence

My reflections on Assessing Intercultural Language Learning in Chapter 8 in Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning by Liddicoat and Scarino.

This chapter raises some really good questions like “How does the assessment of language relate to the assessment of culture, and conversely?” ,”How do we judge the learning of intercultural capability/ understanding?” and Should we be assessing values anyway?” I haven’t thought much about assessing, probably because my school didn’t do a lot of it, and I have never thought about how to assess my students’ intercultural knowledge or how problematic this can be.

Now when I look at the common goals (FFM) I can see that we do have 3 main topics, but only 2 exams to assess. We have an oral exam for oral communication (Mundtlig kommunikation) and written exam for written communication (Skriftlig kommunikation), but we don’t have any exam, for the last part of the FFM, culture and society (Kultur og samfund). This seems strange now, after reading this chapter, but it is really hard to assess intercultural competence and it is a fairly new view of language education.

In the chapter there are some different suggestions of how to assess students’ intercultural knowledge. One of them is Liddicoat and Scarino model that has 4 steps:

  1. Conceptualizing. Which looks at what to assess and how it is represented
  2. Eliciting. This step looks at how to gather evidence of the students’ intercultural knowledge or competence
  3. Judging. Which takes into consideration the two first steps and looks at if the language use and learning is what was intended for the teaching sequence.
  4. Validating. This looks at the whole proses and at how to justify and assure the quality of the assessment process itself.

As I mentioned before, this is a fairly new field and there is a lot of experimentation going on and I intend to be a part of it. I still need to debate, with myself, how to deal with some of the questions I mentioned in the beginning of this reflection like Shouldwe be assessing values?”. This question is especially hard for me, but I shouldn’t let that stop me from trying to improve my assessment skills on the intercultural level.