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Text Ethnography

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    Ethnography is well suited to an intercultural approach to language teaching because of the opportunities it affords for being reflexive about one’s own cultural environments and the focus on querying the ‘taken for granted’, as well as ‘stepping into the shoes of others’, although care needs to be taken not to see these cultural environments as fixed. But ethnography can be integrated further in the language classroom, I believe, than by just being the focus of separate projects, as in the Morgan and Cain study. Ethnography could also be usefully applied to looking at texts, thereby integrating text and context. Texts are after all a natural focus for the language and culture classroom. Moreover, language always happens as text (Kress, 1985), and texts reflect and reconstruct specific instances of culture.

    An ethnographic approach to text helps students to recognize how culture underpins texts, to query the taken-for-granted, and to see how language and culture interrelate. This is a process of discursive mapping. However, an ethnographic approach also looks at the role students have to play in their interpretation. Looking in an ethnographic way at texts then, allows us to make the ‘familiar strange’, and the strange familiar. Being intercultural through text, then, can be a pedagogy of an integrated look at language and culture which takes account of the complexity of context, interculturality, and criticality. But, before we can discuss what it means to be intercultural through texts, we first need to look at what we mean by ‘text’, which I will do below. These views of text are similar, but not the same, as the views of language which I discussed in the previous chapter: views of the liberal humanist perspective; of a structuralist perspective; and text as a semiotic encounter where text and reader ‘meet’ to create meaning.

    This page titled Text Ethnography is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gerdi Quist (Ubiquity Press) .

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