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Cultural models and cultural self-awareness a discourse analytical approach to the language of students' online journal entries /

by Schuetz, Dorothee.

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation investigates whether three participants in a fourth semester German course— designed around the German film epic Heimat—develop critical self-awareness and intercultural competence in the course of the semester, and, if so, how this development is reflected linguistically in their written discourse. The data for this study are composed of students’ online journal entries in the form of weblogs, and their answers to cultural and biographical questionnaires. Drawing on a Hallidayian-inspired philosophy that sees language as “socialsemiotic” (1978), this study looks at the data through a discourse analytical lens. In particular, the discourse analysis relies on the works of linguists Gee (1999) and Fowler (1996), whose approaches are based on the functional-textual theory of language (e.g., Halliday, 1978, 1985). These researchers consider discourse analysis to be a tool for uncovering underlying ideological principles and cultural models. The linguistic analysis in this dissertation focuses on the occurrence and distribution of epistemic and deontic modality (Simpson, 1993, Toolan, 2001), lexical absolutes, verbs of reflection, and temporal adjectives. The findings of the linguistic analysis are compared to the components and objectives of Byram’s (1997) model of intercultural communicative competence (ICC). The analysis shows that while each participant engages in the process of developing reflectivity and critical cultural-self awareness, they each take very individual paths, even to the point where one student’s willingness to reflect upon the self and the other culture regresses and ruptures by the end of the semester. The study supports the idea that “the self” needs to be openly and reflexively acknowledged in foreign language education (FLE) and research, and that self-scrutiny should be encouraged and facilitated during a period of development and identity formation. It suggests the use of weblogs as a possible tool for tracing students’ development, and as a means for encouraging the inquiry process, and for shedding light on the intricacies of intercultural learning. iii
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School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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