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Title: The concept of cultural awareness within the Lebanese new national curriculum and the national English textbook : a case study of policy and practice in Lebanese public and provate secondary schools
Authors: El-Hussari, Ibrahim A.
Award date: 2002
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This study focuses on the concept of cultural awareness as a new education/language policy prescribed by the Lebanese New National Curriculum and pursued in school and classroom practice through the national English textbook, THEMES, intended for ESL/EFL secondary-age students. The official policy guidelines on the instructional objectives of cultural awareness aim to develop in the new generation of secondary- age students an awareness of their own culture as well as the target culture/s whose language they are learning to use in a variety of real life situations. To this end, this thesis examines the educational policy prescribing cultural awareness and the pedagogical impact of its instructional objectives on language teachers and students in the context of foreign language education. Ever since the new language curriculum was put into effect at school level, many educational symposia and teacher training workshops have been organized to discuss the new educational policy and classroom implementation. However, little has been documented about the effectiveness of policy and practice in terms of cultural awareness. Through adopting case study as an interpretive methodology, I attempted to highlight the pros and cons of the new education/language policy as viewed by the main participants in this fieldwork. In this thesis, I argued for two views of culture and cultural awareness, which emerged from my reviewing of available literature in the fields of anthropology, socio-linguistics, and applied linguistics. I used these views in my data analysis to look at how my informants interpret and implement the policy guidelines on culture and cultural awareness. My research findings in this thesis show that the concept of cultural awareness, as an educational goal of the New Language Curriculum in the Lebanese secondary school, is under-theorized and under-resourced in its implementation. Hence, language teachers, in the case study investigated, were not able to develop the concept of cultural awareness as desired by the policy. In the policy, the concept of cultural awareness is promoted through a particular view of culture, which addresses a multi lingual, multi-cultural community by presenting notions of culture catered along lines of international target cultures. My informants interpreted this particular view of culture as problematic. Besides, the view of cultural awareness prescribed by the policy guidelines is not reflected in the cultural content of THEMES book to provide for the needs of secondary-age students. Whilst the policy presents cultural awareness through a set of curricular and instructional objectives, THEMES hardly addresses cultural awareness as an education/language aim. This marginal tackling of cultural awareness by THEMES has influenced the objectives of the language exercises following the texts. Besides, the content of THEMES presents an eclectic view of culture brought up by compiling theme-based international and local texts, most of which echo 'a received view of culture', to use Atkinson?s phrase. Such a content cannot support reflective learning, nor can it enhance the learners? cultural awareness in the absence of effective teachers' pedagogy targeting cultural awareness as a central goal of the new education/language policy. Furthermore, my informants interpreted the views of culture and cultural awareness, catered by the policy and THEMES book, at different levels of understanding. Coordinators and teachers felt they were left alone struggling for appropriate pedagogy to promote the cultural content of THEMES through personal interpretation of policy guidelines. This study also found that there is a need for policy makers and textbook writers to consider the views of teachers and students delivering the new curriculum, when there is a program evaluation at the end of the three-year experimental period given for implementation of school curricula. I found that an independent, external educational authority should take part in the process of program evaluation if the policy is going to work. Such a program evaluation, responding to the voices of those who deliver the policy, provides for the needs of both teachers and students to develop cultural awareness in the language classroom as desired by the official policy. With the process of increasing internationalization and globalization in mind, together with the need to avoid stereotyping images from other cultures, the development of cultural awareness in ESL classrooms seems highly desirable.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: EdD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Education
Leicester Theses

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