Friday, April 19, 2013

The beginning of a new journey: exploring the Global Dimension in the English lesson

Photo Credit: vpickering via Compfight cc

At our first meeting, we talked about the Global Dimension. The following questions led our discussion.

What is the Global Dimension (GD)?

GD has to do with interacting, communicating, getting to know people from different cultures. It involves working with materials and resources moving from an egocentric point of view towards a world-centric perspective. Along these lines, the responsible and adequate use of ICT can enhance the impact of the aims of GD within each community.

Here an interesting website in which you can find some useful resources: Global Dimension … the world in your classroom run by Moira Jenkins.

How can you introduce GD in your classes?

We can have students reading articles (from magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc.) or listening to radio interviews or watching TV documentaries about cultural issues such as typical lifestyles, traditions and celebrations, jobs and trades, fashion, music, clothes, food and dishes, social justice, diversity and inclusion, equality, racism, participation, values, interdependence, etc in our culture and in other cultures.

We could encourage students to spot similarities and differences in order to get a deeper and better knowledge of our culture and that of others’.

Are there any examples/samples of GD in course books?

In Buenos Aires Province, secondary school libraries were given the course book series: New Headway (only Beginner and Pre-intermediate), Opportunities (only Elementary and Pre-intermediate), Up Close and Your Choice Next in 2004. Later in 2011, they were given Engage (only Starter and Level 2), For Teens (only levels 1 to 3) and What’s Up? (only levels 1 and 2).

Generally speaking, these are the typical course books you can find in the Argentinian ELT market. They just tend to deal with cultural issues from an ethnocentric perspective. Though they include materials (written/oral texts and mainly pictures and photos), the materials aren’t exploited through the activities.

That is, these books don’t include activities that help students explore the issue in a deeper way. Most of the activities are aimed at fostering global comprehension, specific comprehension and recognition of a grammatical structure. There’s not reflection on the cultural aspects presented. The visual materials used tend to show stereotyped images (like the ones on this post), or sometimes, what is shown is presented as unusual.

The main issue in all of these books is that the lack of awareness and reflection on cultural issues may result in legitimising the values underlying these materials. This doesn’t mean these books shouldn’t be used. Actually, this is a good opportunity for teachers to plan activities that help students develop their intercultural competence.

We could give students texts about the same issues discussed in these course books but from an opposing/different perspective and have students comparing and contrasting the underlying views. We could plan activities following Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Thinking Skills so that we ensure that students explore the cultural issues in depth. You can find some more ideas here: Ten Takeaway Tips for Teaching Critical Thinking. Anyway, maybe, we, teacher, should first ask ourselves: how can we become global citizens and expand our horizons?

Photo Credit: vpickering via Compfight cc


Corradi, L., A. Rabinovich, C. Echevarría, E. Trelles and E. Menéndez. (2005). For Teens 1 and 2. Student’s Book + Workbook. Buenos Aires: Pearson Education S. A.

Corradi, L. and A. Rabinovich, (2006). For Teens 3. Student’s Book + Workbook. Buenos Aires: Pearson Education S. A.

Downie, M., S. Taylor and J. M. Jiménez. (2004). Your Choice Next 1, 2 and 3. Student’s Book plus integrated activities with audio CD. Argentina: Richmond Publishing – Ediciones Santillana S. A.

Harris, M, D. Mower y A. Sikorzyńska. (2004). Opportunities. Elementary and Pre-Intermediate. Students’ Book. Argentina: Pearson Education Ltd.

Manin, G. J. and A. Artusi. (2008). Engage. Starter and Level 2. Student Book. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Myers, C., S. Jackson, D. Lynam and S. C. Tiberio. (2007). What’s Up? 1 and 2. Student’s Book + Workbook, Workbook CD, Extra practice and Fast Finishers’ activities. Argentina: Pearson Education S. A.

Soars, J. y L. Soars. (2000). New Headway English Course. Beginner and Pre-Intermediate. Student’s Book. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Uhl Chamot, A., I. Rainey de Díaz, J. Baker-González, D. Gordon y N. Weinstein. (2002). Up Close 1, 2 and 3. English for Global Communication. Student’s Book. USA: Thompson-Heinle.