Using Australian Short Stories to Teach about Australian Culture in ESL Classroom in Estonia
MetadataShow full item record
Language is seen as a symbol of social identity and therefore teaching about culture should also be integrated into the teaching of a foreign language. Hence teaching English should include discussions about countries and contexts in which English is widely spoken. English as a second language (ESL) coursebooks, however, mainly focus on teaching about American and/or British culture and often ignore other English-speaking countries, including Australia. Lack of teaching materials that focus on Australian culture is the first obstacle ESL teachers encounter even if they wished to include Australia into ESL teaching. One of the means to form a basis of suitable teaching material is to utilise literary texts that can be regarded an authentic source of a particular country’s cultural and linguistic context and background. Due to the on-going debate among Australian academics of what literary works should be included in the Australian literary canon and what criteria should be used to define Australian literature, ESL teachers have not been provided with a ready set of texts to use as the representative ones, but are left to analyse the literary works and authors themselves in order to decide which of them to include in ESL teaching. In addition, chosen literary texts should be analysed from a cultural perspective to identify the cultural aspects that could be concentrated on and dealt with in ESL classroom. The aim of this research paper is to form a set of Australian short stories that can be used in order to teach about Australian culture in ESL classroom in Estonia and to analyse what the most characteristic aspects of Australian culture are based on short stories in The Penguin Century of Australian Stories, edited by Carmel Bird, published in 2000. The introduction of the paper incorporates discussions of what culture is, the necessity of teaching about culture in ESL classroom and current practices, and the nature of Australian literary canon. The theoretical chapter of the research paper combines five sections of background information collected from previous studies and relevant articles: the advantages of using literature in ESL classroom, the analysis of the selection process and the criteria to be considered when selecting a particular literary work, and the benefits of using short stories in teaching ESL. Additionally, the theoretical part includes a list of possible teaching approaches to be used with literary texts and the analysis of teaching the culture of an English-speaking country through literature is presented, with a particular focus on the culture of the USA. Susan Bassnett 2003, Joyce Merrill Valdes 1986, Carter and Long 1991, Zofia Chlopek 2004, Collie and Slater 1987, Claire Kramsch 1993, Gillian Lazar 1993, Tomalin and Stempleski 1993 are the most acknowledged researchers, in the field of culture/literature in ESL classroom, whose academic publication are mainly analysed and referred to. The main academics and authors whose articles regarding Australian language, culture and literature are analysed and quoted are Bruce Bennett 2009, Delys Bird 2000, Blair and Collins 2000, Catriona Elder 2008, Kerryn Goldsworthy 1999, John Hirst 2010, Tom I. Moore 1971 and Stephen Torre 2009. The empirical part of the paper consists of an analysis of the short fiction in The Penguin Century of Australian Stories to categorise these stories according to the characteristic aspects of Australian culture present in the stories. In addition, the chapter includes a selection of short stories that can be used as teaching material when teaching about Australian culture in ESL classroom in Estonia.