02 Nov Exploring Intercultural Language Education – thoughts from Macau
On Oct 27th 2016, Professor John Corbett, head of English Department at University of Macau, gave an entertaining yet provocative lecture on “Intercultural Language Education: From Curriculum to Classroom and Back Again” as part of the CLE Lecture Series.
Professor Corbett has published widely on intercultural language education, Scottish literature and the Scots language, literary translation, and corpus linguistics, and as the vice-president of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, he has helped establish an annual Scottish Writing Exhibition at the MLA convention in the USA. He is also a member of the International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication and edited the Association’s journal Language and Intercultural Communication for five years.
In the opening speech, Dr. Kathy O’Sullivan welcomed Professor Corbett as an old friend as they knew each other since her last visit to the Language Center at University of Macau.
During the lecture, Professor Corbett firstly explained five ‘saviours’ in the curricular objectives under the framework of intercultural language education. He used anecdotes from his intercultural marriage to make the big intercultural issues personal and easier for the students to understand what culture was and what intercultural communication might involve. Then he introduced specific examples of classroom activities by making use of a wide array of photographs of shop signs he shot in different countries. This aroused the students’ curiosity in the culture lying behind them and their interests in the ethnographic skills involved in observing local culture. Professor Corbett then illustrated to the teachers and students how to build online community to explore culture by utilizing the platform of MOOC and other social network sites. His humorous and thought-provoking lecture evoked bursts of laughter and applause from the audience.
The lecture also ignited a series of questions among the audience in the subsequent Q&A session. Students asked about intercultural preparation before embarking on overseas education, while teachers in CLE were concerned with the role of English and intercultural issues in English teaching. The audience’s enthusiasm for the topic resulted in a lingering discussion outside the lecture hall.
The audience was strongly impressed by Professor Corbett’s expertise and pioneering applications in intercultural language education. Teachers commented that Professor Corbett used his own lecture to exemplify what successful intercultural communication was and opened a vision for the teachers to explore curriculum development. Students also remarked that the lecture drew their attention to seemingly trivial cultural observation that was previously ignored, and aroused their desire to become intercultural speakers and negotiators.
Reported by CLE
Written by: Yuanyuan ZHANG
Photos by: Gary Moran