You are on page 1of 20

1

Reflective Journal #1

For a while, my husband and I worried about my second daughter’s first language—

Korean, which seemed to be fading out. English was becoming her major language and the one

that she used to talk to us. She was 5 years old, when she came to the US. She learned English

fast and after two years she did not seem to have difficulties in communicating with others in

English and even more, preferred English to Korean to use when she talked to her family.

Although we had the using “Korean Only” rule at our house, my husband and I could not

intervene when my two daughters talked to each other in English in their rooms and at play

grounds.

I had a concern over her cognitive development. Because I thought that if she chose

English as her major language, at some point I who have English as my second/foreign language

would not be able to facilitate her cognitive development as much as I wanted due to the

language barrier. At that time, I appreciated the Vygotskian sociocultural perspective; “when

learners appropriate mediational means, such as language, made available as they interact in

socioculturally meaningful activities, these learners gain control over their own mental activity

and an begin to function independently” (Zuengler & Miller, 2006). Moreover, I remembered

that among various social interactions, the ones between caregivers and a child can play a crucial

role in the development of the child’s cognition. Hence, my husband and I decided that my

husband would bring our kids back to Korea in order for them not to lose their L1 anymore.

At that time, as I had not been exposed to issues relating to bilingualism and had not read

articles on it, I intuitively agreed with the dominant opinion of the 19th century that bilingualism

had a detrimental effect on thinking. However, I could expand my understanding to the


2

possibility that bilingualism leads to cognitive advantages over monolingulism through reading

the book—Language Diversity in the USA and additional articles regarding bilingualism and

multilingualism in the SLA field. According to Potowski (2010), there are various benefits of

high levels of multilingualism at both individual and society levels. Hakuta (as cited in Potowski,

2010) argued that bilingualism may influence cognitive development in a positive way based on

the evidence that the literacy skills in heritage language can transmit to the second language,

stimulating the development of literate abilities in English (as cited in Potowski, 2010).

Moreover, according to Peal and Lambert’s (1962) finding, bilingualism could provide benefits

to cognitive functioning such as mental flexibility. On top of that, Bialystok (1987a, 1987b,

1997) found that bilingual children presented superior cognitive control when they processed

linguistic information.

In the SLA field, the Thresholds Theory is considered as being convincing by many

researchers. According to the Thresholds Theory (Bialystok, 1988), children who are on the

bottom floor present their lower level of competence in both languages—L1 and L2 and there

might be detrimental cognitive effects. If the children are taught through the second language in

Immersion Education, to a certain extent the delay of cognitive growth is a natural and temporal

phenomenon. Once their second language has developed enough to cope with school work, they

are able to reach the top floor ‘Balanced bilinguals’ followed by the middle floor ‘less balanced

bilinguals’. In short, the pivotal argument of Threshold theorists is that there are three types of

bilingual children; ones who achieve high levels of linguistic proficiency in both languages, ones

who obtain a high level of proficiency in only one language but a lower facility with the other

language, and lastly ones who fail to attain a high level of proficiency in both languages. Only

the first group of children are able to receive cognitive benefits from their bilingualism.
3

When it comes to the implication for future policy for L2 pedagogy, with the consent

regarding the cognitive benefits of bi-/multi-lingualism, in order to make bil-/multi-ingual

education more effective, I believe, we should pay attention to the tenet of the Thresholds

Theory; without a solid literacy background in the L1, learners’ L1 knowledge could not be

transferred to L2. This means that educational institutions should support and scaffold English

learners in a different way by focusing more on their L1 literacy. Teachers need to be aware of

the important roles L1 plays in L2 acquiring so that they can be fully prepared to facilitate SLA

in their new population of students. Also, the schools should encourage the parents of culturally

and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners to read books to their children so as to develop the

learners’ L1 literate abilities.

I situate the benefits of bilingual/multilingual education for students in my own research

interest—Korean language teacher education in the context of working with multicultural

students. South Korea is rapidly becoming a multicultural society. Since mid-1990, in line with

its economic growth, South Korea has been undergoing a change in its social situation. The

ethnic diversification toward a multicultural society has led to changes in the education/learner

population. The increase in the number of multicultural families has begun to make demands on

the educational system in Korea. Hence, multicultural education has been conducting so as to

correspond to the increased interest regarding multiculturalism at the national level. Korean

multicultural education policy pursue the definition of Banks and Banks (2001);

An idea, an educational reform movement, and a process whose major goal is to change the

structure of educational institutions so that male and female students, exceptional students, and

students who are members of diverse racial, ethnic, language, and cultural groups will have an

equal chance to achieve academically in school (p.1).


4

However, there are some problematic phenomena in Korean multicultural competence. With the

agenda of Korean multicultural education, culture tends to be considered as an extension of

individual basic rights. Providing cultural rights and welfare seem to be desirable for cultural

minority people, yet connecting culture with immigrants’ ethnicity may create another

stereotype. Hence, it is necessary to make an attempt to develop an equal relationship between a

majority and a minority. Rather than forcing CLD students to assimilate to mainstream society

by pressing them to learn only Korean, it is important to be aware of and respect cultural and

linguistic differences, so that we can create a harmonious society. In order to do that, I would

like to help pre-/in-service Korean language teachers support CLD students and family to

maintain their culture and language.


5

References

Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (2016). Multicultural education: issues and perspectives

(9th ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.

Bialystock, E. (1987a). Influences of bilingualism on metalinguistic development. Second

Language Research, 3(2), 154-166.

Bialystock, E. (1987b). Words as things: Development of word concept by bilingual children.

Studies in Second Language Learning, 9, 133-140.

Bialystock, E. (1988). Levels of bilingualism and levels of linguistic awareness. Developental

Psychology, 24, 560-567.

Bialystock, E. (1997). Effects of bilingualism and biliteracy on children’s emerging concepts of

print. Developmental Psychology, 33(3), 429-440.

Peal, E. & Lambert, W. E. (1962). The relationship of bilingualism to intelligence. Psychological

Monographs, 76(27), 1-23.

Potowski, K. (Ed.) (2010). Language diversity in the USA. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press. ISBN: 978-0-74533

Zuengler, J., & Miller, E. R. (2006). Cognitive and sociocultural perspectives: Two parallel SLA

worlds? TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 35-58.


6

Reflective Journal #2

I understand that constructivism is a philosophical term that describes how people learn

and there are a lot of assumptions about constructivism. First, knowledge is constructed, which is

in contrast to the behaviorism that individuals learn knowledge that already existed through

stimulus-response relationships. However, constructivists consider learners as active interpreters.

When learners encounter new information, they actively interpret it and they construct their own

unique understanding. The second assumption is that learning is an active process. Unlike

behaviorists’ belief that learners act upon some source of authority and they should be guided

through negative and positive reinforcements, constructivists believe that learners explore

environments and they actively interpret their experiences and surroundings. The third

assumption is that Truth (with a capital T) is unknowable. An individual constructs a subjective

experience based on one’s own unique understanding of some objective realities and the

subjective interpretation and objective realities are not able to be distinguished from each other.

The concept of constructivism has influenced various academic fields such as

psychology, sociology, science, and education. Using the constructive epistemology, Lev

Vygotsky theorized that human cognitive development was derived from social interaction.

Conversely, by participating in social activities, learners have opportunities to use and test their

cognitive functions. Furthermore, the Sociocultural Theory focuses “not only on how adults and

peers influence individual learning, but also on how cultural beliefs and attitudes impact how

instruction and learning take place” (Vanpatten & Benati, 2015). In other words, social

constructivism acknowledges and seeks the uniqueness of learners, encouraging the learners to

have their own version of knowledge. That reflects their pre-existing cultures and worldviews.
7

Thus, it is important for educators to pay attention to learners’ backgrounds and cultures because

they have a great impact on constructing knowledge through the learning process.

As an advocate of constructivism, I situate the tenets of Sociocultural Theory in my

research interest—teachers’ professional development. In alignment with the Vygotskyan

sociocultural perspective, I believe that learners’ social interactions with knowledgeable

members of a society, namely teachers, play a crucial role in their learning. Therefore, teachers

need to learn how to act as facilitators in classrooms, assisting learners to build knowledge by

themselves rather than actively engaging the learning process by providing didactic lectures. In

order to make the classroom interactions connected to learning effectively and appropriately,

teachers should achieve different sets of knowledge, skills, and attitude in their repertoire.

Given the phenomenon that South Korea is rapidly becoming a multicultural society, it is

reasonable to expect that there are changes in the learner population. In a culturally diverse

context, there are cultural gaps between teachers and students, so it is necessary that teaching

practitioners be prepared with intercultural competencies. That is, teachers should have “the

ability to change cultural perspective and adapt … behavior to deal with cultural differences”

(Álvarez Valdivia & González Montoto, 2018, p. 511) and understand a “favorable condition to

learning and behaving effectively in an intercultural interaction” (Álvarez Valdivia & González

Montoto, 2018, p. 511) so that they are capable to scaffold culturally and linguistically diverse

students in an appropriate manner.

When it comes to developing educational policies, I would like to address various

challenges in applying the notion of intercultural competence (IC) to teacher education

programs, rather than emphasizing the necessity of political support for pre- and in-service
8

teachers’ IC. Among researchers, policy makers and educators, IC has long been recognized as

important in contexts where culturally diversity is growing and shifting. The polysemy of the

concept of IC is an issue that needs to be addressed by researchers, practitioners and even policy

makers (Dervin & Hahl, 2015). Van de Vijver & Leung (2009) also mentioned “the most

important challenge in the field of intercultural competence is … conceptual” (p. 405).

According to Deardorff (2009), there are some key questions emerging in intercultural

competence field: “Is it possible to develop a global definition of IC and an IC model that can be

applied?”, “Is it possible to find enough overlapping themes and common value within these and

other perspectives that would give rise to a more universal model of IC?”, and “What do

appropriate behaviors “look like” in different cultures and in different contexts?”(p. 268).

Moreover, the central concept of culture is “ideological in nature” and the attempts to define and

analyze it can easily generate other types of discrimination by means of perceiving individuals

and groups as only recipients of culture. By considering these important criticisms on the field of

IC, I would like to attempt to find more politically friendly ways to introduce the idea of IC to

the area of teacher education in Korea.


9

References

Álvarez Valdivia, I. M., & González Montoto, I. (2018). Teachers’ intercultural competence: a

requirement or an option in a culturally diverse classroom?. International Journal of

Inclusive Education, 22(5), 510-526.

Deardorff, D. K. (2009). Synthesizing conceptualizations of intercultural competency: A

summary of emerging themes. In D. K. Deardorff (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of

intercultural competence (pp. 264-269). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Dervin, F., & Hahl, K. (2015). Developing a portfolio of intercultural competences in teacher

education: The case of a Finnish international programme. Scandinavian Journal of

Educational Research, 59(1), 95-109.

VanPatten, B., & Benati, A. (2018). Key terms in second language acquisition. New York, NY:

Continuum International Publishing Group. (2nd ed.) ISBN-13: 978-0826499158

Van de Vijver, F., & Leung, K. (2009). Methodological issues and researching intercultural

competence. In D. K. Deardorff (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of intercultural competence

(pp. 404-418). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


10

Reflective Journal #3

Most social scientists agree with the fact that societies are stratified into social classes.

Social classes are defined as “social distinction based on the unequal distribution of wealth,

power, and prestige” (Provenzo, 2006, p.245). Karl Marx (1867) explained how a society was

stratified and how it developed through his prominent book—Das Kapital. As a social relation,

capital constitutes social structures in capitalistic societies. Even though what determines class

varies from one society to another, according to Marx (1867), social structures are basically

divided into two classes: a capitalistic class and a working class. In a capitalistic society, private

property plays a role of being the main resource that creates social power. That is, great wealth

provides a few people from the capitalist class control over the property-less mass of people who

reside in the working class. In a theory, individuals are able to move from one class to another,

yet it might be close to impossible for people who were born in poverty to accumulate enough

capital to make a leap in the hierarchical society. By using capital’s property of being self-

reproducing, capitalists can easily secure their social class. On the other hand, workers tend to

use all the money they have earned through the form of wages to purchase daily necessities.

When I investigated educational status quo through a Marxist’s perspective, I could

deeply understand in what way “the complex nexus of political and economic power that lies

behind curriculum organization and selection remains hidden” (Sarup, 2012 p. 1). Conflict

theorists argue that the ruling class has created and been using an education system to serve their

interests through reproducing class inequality, legitimating class inequality, and working in the

interests of capitalist employers (Anyon, 2011; Sarup, 2012, 2013). In other words, they do

believe that public schools reinforce and perpetuate social inequality rather than reducing it in

class, gender, race, and ethnicity. Public schools in complex industrial societies provide to
11

students in various social classes different types of educational service corresponding to

personality traits and social skills rewarded in the occupational strata (Anyon, 1980). To be

specific, schools which are for working class students lead most pupils to be punctual,

disciplined, and loyal, so that they are able to finish tasks on time, which is one of the core

values required of laborers. The students are also prepared to put up with the boring routine of

many industrial and office work in school systems. Among the four types of schooling

introduced through an ethnographical study of curricular, pedagogical, and pupil evaluation

practices—“Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work” (Anyon, 1980), the working-

class and middle-class schools offered more practical curriculum connected to manual skills and

clerical knowledge. On the other hand, in affluent professional and executive elite schools,

students were educated to acquire skills and knowledge such as creative thinking and reasoning.

The lessons that teachers did not prepare on purpose and students learned subconsciously

transmitted norms, values, and beliefs through different school experiences.

Hence, I situate the issues with regard to hidden curriculum in educational settings in my

own future career—a teacher educator. I realized that teacher educators have an important

responsibility to guide pre- and in-service teachers in opening their eyes to see that “many of the

problems in schools are a manifestation of the deeper structural contradictions of capitalism”

(Sarup, 2012, p. 1). By doing so, they could contribute to embodying justice in our society,

especially in schools. According to Bell (1997), social justice is an awareness of the myriad

manifestations of privilege and oppression in our society. Dyches and Boyd (2017) said that

social justice involves recognizing how institutions, such as government offices, perpetuate

societal inequity through the disproportionate distribution of material and symbolic resources

among social groups. Given that schools are sites that perpetuate and reproduce social inequality,
12

schools are not fulfilling their roles as institutions for social justice. Therefore, schools should

envisage squarely social injustices such as heteronormativity, xenophobia, racism, classism,

ableism, and sexism. In addition, teachers should not only recognize inequities, but also address

those discriminations within their classrooms (Dyches & Boyd, 2017); they could democratize

education by advocating poor students’ rights to access to the quality and elite public education.

Education inequity is getting worse in Korea. For a long time, Korean people had been

considering education as a main route to be upwardly mobile for themselves and their families.

The belief is well reflected in OECD’s annual educational index showing us about Koreans’

passion for education; the percentage of university and graduate school completion ranks at the

top among members of OECD. By virtue of graduating from a top-tier university, people thought

that they could reach high status and hand down their social success to their descendants.

However, the result of a new survey showed that 59% of Korean believed that they cannot move

up the social ladder. The respondents mentioned that the crucial reason why they were trapped in

the unfair social structure was the malfunction of Korean education system. In Korea, the ladder

of hierarchical movement seems to be blocked, so education does not remain the single most

important factor affecting social mobility anymore.

The Korean government entered the mainstream of the global education community

within the ‘Education for All’ paradigm in an active manner. Korea’s government is

implementing various policies so as to offer to students equal educational opportunities based on

human dignity. Complying with the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education,

it attempts to apply educational standards to all people regardless gender, race, and socio-

economic status. Elementary and secondary education are provided free of charge as compulsory

education. Moreover, students are receiving gratis school meals and subsidies for educational
13

expenses. Yet, although the Korean Ministry of Education announced a new policy to overcome

education inequality, the reproduction of social inequality through educational institutions seems

to be getting worse. I believe that we need policies not only focusing on physical aspects of

educational environments but paying attention to the crucial roles of teachers in prohibiting a

hidden and perhaps unjust curriculum.


14

References

Anyon, J. (1980). Social class and the hidden curriculum of work. In Provenzo, E. (Ed.), Critical

issues in education: An anthology of readings (pp. 253-269). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Publications.

Anyon, J. (2011). Marx and education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Bell, L. A. (1997). Theoretical foundations for social justice education. In M. Adams, L. A. Bell

& P. Griffin (Eds.), Teaching for diversity and social justice (pp. 1-15). New York, NY:

Routledge.

Dyches, J., & Boyd, A. (2017). Foregrounding equity in teacher education: Toward a model of

social justice pedagogical and content knowledge. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(5),

476-490.

Marx, K. (2011). Capital, Volume I: A critique of political economy (Vol. 1). Courier

Corporation.

Provenzo, E. (Ed.) (2006). Critical issues in education: An anthology of readings. Thousand Oaks,

CA: Sage Publications.

Sarup, M. (2012). Marxism/Structuralism/Education (RLE Edu L): Theoretical Developments in

the Sociology of Education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Sarup, M. (2013). Marxism and Education (RLE Edu L): A Study of Phenomenological and

Marxist Approaches to Education. New York, NY: Routledge.


15

Reflective Journal #4

“Do you think that you have the standard English? Which English do you think is the

‘correct or right’ one?” With regard to those questions, my Norwegian friend and I talked for a

while. She answered, “I don’t know… maybe British English or American English… we want to

have American English, because it sounds nice.” I shouted inwardly, ‘I thought exactly the same

way!’

I vividly remember how much I suffered in American-English during the first year at

GMU. When I came to the US, I brought my culture—especially my English, into this country.

Although my English was rooted in American-English, I had some Korean-English expressions

and some British pronunciations and vocabularies that I had learned from my former British

faculty. Whenever I realized that my English was not similar to other’s one—American-English,

and whenever I experienced miscommunications due to my distinct English in classroom talks, I

felt somewhat humiliated. It might be because I considered my English as being inferior or

incorrect. The fact that I still had incorrect English made me feel guilty. The negative emotion

originated from the misconception—"I might not have been a smart and good student/person.”

According to Carspecken (1996), “The background is part of our experience, but it is out of

focus and plays a barely noticed role in producing object perception” (p. 103). Carspecken’s idea

explains well why I could not be aware of the false notion. It was because the wrong belief was

situated at the background of the flow of my consciousness. Now, I acknowledge that the one

who delegitimized my peripheral participation in any kinds of communications was myself—my

wrong value and belief system. Then, why did I believe so? Who infused the value into my

mind? How could they have accomplished the task so successfully?


16

According to the news article, The impact of the English language in interconnected

world, there are an estimated 1.75 billion people who are able to communicate in English and the

number is still increasing. English is one of the most popular languages that people are using in

global contexts such as business, media, science, technology, academia, and IT. English became

the global language for a variety of reasons. First of all, the expansion of the British Empire

between the 17th and 19th century. In the 17th century, large scale of migration of English

speakers from England, Scotland, and Ireland to North America, Australia and the New Zealand

which were included in the Inner Circle out of Kachuru’s (1992) three-circle model took place.

The English dialects travelled with theses migrants and gradually developed and settled into the

varieties of English such as American-English, British-English, and Australian-English with

differences in components of a language—lexicon, phonology, and syntax. During the 18th and

19th century, Britain expanded its colonies in Africa and Asia which were the regions in the

Outer Circle. This colonization led to the development of many second language varieties of

English such as Indian-English, Singapore-English. To sum up, this migration and colonization

built the foundation for the further spread of English. The diffusion of English was propelled by

the emergence of the United States of America as the world’s most dominant political and

economic power and eventually English was distributed to the countries which were in the

Expanding Circle.

Western imperialism has transformed English language into a global tool for

communication. English is considered as a necessity for studying at the prestigious schools,

working at international companies, and living in the wealthiest nations. This phenomenon is

reflected in the growth of social inequality connected to globalization. As English becomes the

new global norm, indigenous languages and cultures are often undermined. Donaldo Macedo
17

(2000) attempted to warn people against “ethnic and cultural war” (p. 15). If people’s mind sets

are hostage to the neocolonialist language, they are likely to lose their own languages and

cultures and it could be related to the matter of losing dignity. Like the Chicana cultural theorist,

Gloria Anzaldúa said “if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language,” Macedo

viewed that people created language and in the other way human beings were influenced by

language. We frame realities through a language, the real meanings of a certain language should

be understood based on context including social, political, and ideological orders (Macedo,

2000). In this sense, individuals need to develop their own identities in their languages and

cultures and then, based on the strong and solid identities, they can successfully achieve the

cultural integration by means of valuing not only hosting culture but also their indigenous

cultures.

I situate the issues with regard to English as the colonial legacy to my field—the English

language (EL) teacher education. The challenge for EL teachers is globalization and

neocolonialism of English. Which English should we teach in our classes? How can teachers

guide students to have their second language—English without any feeling of suppression of

non-English-speaking cultures? In what way should teachers increase their students’ cultural

awareness so as to let them be effective communicators in international/intercultural settings?

English language teachers should ponder these questions and prepare their own answers rooted

in their educational philosophy in order to guide students to have both rights and responsibilities

as a citizen of the world.

If the purpose of EL teaching is to produce students who are able to encounter the

English-speaking world with confidence, teachers cannot avoid bringing global English into their

classrooms. In Korea, English language (EL) teachers cannot help but to teach American English
18

(AE) in the center of their classes in a conservative way, because most EL teachers might be

taught AE in their grammar schools and they did not have enough opportunities to be exposed to

other forms of English such as Indian English and Jamaican English. However, EL teachers

should let students know that AE is not the only one correct dialect among a variety of Englishes.

Students who will live on the world stage should be prepared to encounter a variety of cultures

reflected in the various forms of English. If they received only American English as language

inputs in the classrooms, they would be in a shock as they communicate with ‘unstandardized’

English-speaking counterparts. Therefore, teachers should improve students’ communication

skills by means of exposing them to the variation that exists in English as it is possible. By doing

so, students can raise their awareness of the diversity of English. In their future, as they will meet

with someone such as Nigerian English speakers, they could be effective communicators based

on their intercultural competences.

Given the impact of English as a global language on educational policies and practices,

there are various and significant issues emerging on ESL/ELF education fields: “confusion and

inconsistency, at the level of policy, particularly regarding the issue of age of initial instruction,

inequity regarding access of effective language instruction, inadequately trained and skilled

teachers, and a disjunction between curriculum rhetoric and pedagogical reality” (Nunan, 2003,

p. 589). As a future teacher educator, I would like to address policies on teacher education. In the

2009 revised the Korean National Curriculum, English was defined as an ‘international

language’ and a part of a toolkit enabling effective communication among people with different

cultural backgrounds and languages. The trend of teaching cultures in EL classes is reflected in

the curriculum of EL teaching in Korea. Corresponding to the policy on English as a global

language, the modified EL education curriculum is meaningful. It highlights the necessity of


19

cultural education in developing communication strategies, which is distinguished from

traditional aspects of education in Korea. What I would like to emphasize here is that the

‘cultures’ that Korean EL teachers should introduce to classes are not confined to English native

speaking countries’ cultures. English conveys the cultures of interlocutors, and English is not

owned to specific nations. Thus, as Korean education reforms are implemented, it will be

important to explore how the EL teachers in Korea perceive cultures, Englishes, and intercultural

communications, and how they practice their intercultural competence in their teaching

performances.
References

Carspecken, P. F. (1996). Critical ethnography in educational research: A theoretical and

practical guide. New York: Routledge.

Crystal, D. (2012). English as a global language. Cambridge university press.

Kachru, B. B. (Ed.). (1992). The other tongue: English across cultures. University of Illinois

Press.

Macedo, D. (2000). The colonialism of the English only movement. Educational Researcher,

29(3), 15-24.

Nunan, D. (2003). The impact of English as a global language on educational policies and

practices in the Asia‐Pacific Region. TESOL quarterly, 37(4), 589-613.