For the purposes of this book, I have looked in detail at the classroom data I collected during my study, and which I analyzed in Chapter 5. I am not affording the same amount of time and space to the interview data in this chapter as I did to the classroom data in the previous one, because the interview data were intended particularly to triangulate the classroom data. In this final chapter, where relevant, I refer to some of the interviews to illuminate some of my research findings in greater detail. In doing so, I focus on only two students, Claire and Sarah, particularly because of their contrasting views.
Out of all the students, Claire had engaged most with the conflicting discourses in the Men’s Health text and with the cultuurtekst pedagogy. In the interviews, however, Claire showed that she was still struggling with the concept of cultuurtekst to some extent. Yet her conceptualization of cultuurtekst in relation to her own lived experience added substantially to my own interpretation and theorization of cultuurtekst for language pedagogy, as I will show below.
Similarly, Sarah’s responses added significantly to my understanding of how students can engage with the idea of cultuurtekst and how their assumptions of what communication is, have a bearing on how they conceive their language learning. Moreover, it also helped me to locate the further conceptualization of cultuurtekst pedagogy in a philosophical context. Even though Sarah had not been present during the second lesson, which was part of the analysis of the previous chapter, I have still opted to refer to data of Sarah’s interviews here, because her resistance to my approach offered valuable insights into her learning experiences in relation to my pedagogy, and indeed has consequences for my reflection on how to take this pedagogy forward.
To understand the depth of Sarah’s resistance, I need to point out that a few weeks into the course Sarah had approached me to ask whether she could be excused from attending the classes and just take the course on a self-study basis. She did not like the course because of its focus on ‘style’ in relation to the audience and purpose of the text. As the data show, Sarah had not even started to engage with the notion of discourses. It has to be remembered here that, as I mentioned in chapter 4, I had at the start of the course used the term ‘style’ in order to refer to ‘routinized ways of talking’ about certain topics, as that seemed a more acceptable notion to students because of its more obvious link with the idea of improving one’s language skills in the class, rather than the term ‘discourses‘. But the idea of people adapting their language use in different situations had had a profound effect on Sarah. She suddenly felt that she could not communicate effectively anymore with people because she was worrying and wondering about what to say and how to say it, whereas before that would have come automatically. The idea that people use different kinds of languages in different situations, that people ‘switch codes’ was very unsettling in a psychological way. In fact, she mentioned at the time, ‘it had rocked her to the core’; it made her feel that, on the one hand, she could not trust people anymore to say exactly what they meant and that on the other hand, it made her very self conscious about her own use of language in English, both in writing and speech.
We managed to resolve the conflict between us by agreeing that Sarah would attend classes and do her homework, but that she did not have to participate in class discussions if she did not want to. After a few lessons, Sarah started to participate fully in class, but it always remained clear that she continued to be resistant to this approach.