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ERIC Number: EJ946389
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0042-062X
German Grammar in the Students' Words: The "Essentialization" of German Grammar by American College-Level Learners
Chavez, Monika
Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German, v44 n2 p83-97 Fall 2011
This study of 134 college-level learners of German, enrolled in four years of instruction, showed them to "essentialize" German grammar when asked to describe it to a hypothetical friend. Kubota defined the term essentialization to capture learners' views of the target culture. Its main characteristic is the presupposition of "essential, stable, and objective traits" that distinguish one culture from the other. Indeed, analysis indicated that students construct essential differences between the grammars of German and English, thus reducing especially German to features that appear important to the learners but do not do justice to the functional realities of German as a living, organic language. Moreover, many students' descriptions of German grammar marked a strong affective response. The paper concludes with a discussion of these results in terms of (a) students' inability to perceive German as "real"; (b) students' and novice teachers' disorientation vis-a-vis systemic and socio-culturally connoted views of German; (c) a call for not just curricular but also "mind" reform; (d) appropriate objectives for language learning, such as those discussed by Byrnes, Kramsch, Kramsch and Whiteside, Maxim, and Schulz; and (e) the need for graduate programs to make the most of their role as training grounds for future teachers of language and culture.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A