Derrick Nault

Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan

In a June 2006 critiquing standard approaches for teaching literature to English learners in Japanese university settings, Derrick Nault reports on his findings “Using World Literatures to Promote Intercultural Competence in Asian EFL Learners” which focuses on the specific technique to improve students’ English competence by using an intercultural approach-a new concept as an alternate pedagogical framework. He describes the concept by doing three specific techniques include in Culture Clashes, English Snapshots and Contrastive Analysis. This finding is fascinating and understandable to be applied.

Derrick Nault, in his study “Using World Literatures to Promote Intercultural Competence in Asian EFL Learners” describes three specific approaches as his technique in improving students’ abilities. The Culture Clashes as the first step of the technique is done by demonstrating a clash of cultural values or conceptions based on a scene from a story. For the following step- The English Snapshots, writer use passages from literary works to raise learners’ awareness of non-standard varieties of English. Referring to the last step-The Contrastive Analysis, learners involve comparing the cultural assumptions in a text and contrasting features of particular cultural. The writer believed that this last step is one of the best ways to draw attention to the importance of culture in the communication process.

Regarding to the four most common methods for teaching English-language literature in Japan-stylistics, literary criticism, the English language teaching (ELT) approach, and the yakudoku method (“translation method”), the intercultural approach seems to modification of the English language teaching (ELT) approach. Derrick Nault claims that no single method can be used in all contexts, “As teachers and students vary in learning styles, it is up to the instructor to decide what is most effective and practical for a given educational context. Hence, the weak points of standard approaches should be kept in mind and strive to involve students in their own learning, pique their interest in reading, raise their cultural awareness, and improve their language skills”. From his argument it is as if he was not satisfy with the effectiveness of the common method used in Japan but in my opinion Derrick Nault actually just want to find suitable method for his students although he must examine hardly with insufficient sources and references because this technique is still the new one.

Derrick Nault tells that while language teaching traditionally has treated language and culture separately, more recently ELT specialists have begun emphasizing that linguistic competence alone is insufficient for a learner to be truly proficient in a language. What is also needed, they argue, is an understanding of the culture in which the target language is used. But Seelye in (1997) said that “the study of language cannot be divorced from the study of culture, and vice versa. The wherewithal to function in another culture requires both prowess in the language and knowledge of the culture” (p. 23). Then Derrick Nault inform that an intercultural approach to ELT is advantageous in that it integrates both language and culture into lessons, more adequately preparing learners for real world communicative contexts. Responding to his argument, I assume that this approach is designed to be interesting and challenge method in which teacher and learners should be more active than usual because as my experience, learning with the real world context or condition will be more joyful and easy to understand the lesson. We can see how and when we use the language.

In the last discussion, Derrick Nault tells,” I have yet to gather concrete data on the effectiveness of the teaching techniques I have just outlined. Nonetheless, I would judge my intercultural competence-oriented literature lessons to be successful”. Besides, he has even had students express a desire to visit African and other Asian nations as a result of lessons based on world literatures. What all of this means for actual language acquisition is difficult to say, but an intercultural approach to ELT and literature does appear to intrigue and motivate learners and this can only help improve their English proficiency. It is also one of proof of intercultural effectiveness in literature class. Due to incomplete Derrick Nault’s concrete data, I wonder more about the effectiveness of intercultural approach. In short, I am interested in this new approach.

In conclusion, the intercultural approach which Derrick Nault recognized to improve students’ English competence seems to be good invention. The procedure of the technique is understandable enough. The reason that the research give in supporting his argument also logic but there is some suggestion for further research, it is better for the next research to provide detailed data and more supporting idea in order to make the reader more attract and fully understand with the procedure of the technique.

1 Comment
  1. TF January 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM  

    I too believe that Literature can promote language teaching and pupils are motivated to learn as a result