The Image of the Outsider in Literature, Media, and Society: It's “Affect” on Second Language AcquisitionBy Kevin Anthony Stoda, Educator in Kuwait
According to the Modern Language Association in America, “Enrollment in foreign language courses is booming on American college campuses.” The MLA in America’s new study finds, for example that the study of Arabic has more than doubled since 2002. The findings of the study by MLA “reflect a major push toward internationalization on college campuses, with total enrollment in language courses growing 12.9 percent over the four years.”
This increase in focus on foreign language acquisition is a pleasant surprise because over the last 8 decades the trend has been for Americans not to take foreign language education seriously. This recent American history of negative attitudes towards foreigners, their language and their culture has made it very difficult to prepare Americans for changes in an increasingly smaller network of peoples & nations who interact regularly in what we sometimes call a “global village”.
Meanwhile, America’s own most popular language—English—is one of the most popular courses of study all over the world.
In this context of growing interest in learning both other languages and the cultures of those who use these languages, it is important to discuss what sort of texts and materials—like videos and DVDs--are needed in foreign language education.
In 2008, the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies of Social Imagery (SISSI) will hold another conference in Colorado Springs on the topic of “the outsider”. I think developing and selecting curricula more around the topic of “an outsiders perspective” is quite important.
An individual who is considered an outside is defined as such by living a lifestyle or representing a race or culture that is considered by those in power to be outside the established order, particularly someone who ignores (or seems to ignore) or challenges social norms.
Foreign and second language educators should especially focus on the perspective of the outsider (1) in organizing classes and in order to (2) select written and spoken texts with the perspective of the outsider in mind--for use in reading, viewing and discussion. These authentic texts, when focusing “on the perspective of the outsider”, help students to internalize cross-cultural information when presented in realistic exchanges and in authentic communication for those students trying to comprehend and internalize cultural and language cues.
The rest of this article focuses on expanding this argument and lists a myriad of reasons to do so. Further, it suggests what sorts of materials and topics should be considered.
As interests in foreign language at the secondary and tertiary level in the U.S. reach an all-time high, it is important to recognize that many individuals on both sides of different cultures and language-barriers will empathize and internalize the perspective of the outsider. This can be a positive experience for all if teachers and students are made aware of the meta-learning benefits of taking on an outsider’s perspective.OUTSIDERS
“The outsider” as understood here might be a stranger, an eccentric, a critic, or at least someone who poses alternatives to the established or dominating circles within a culture. Moreover, the outsider may be a member of an excluded group, a group or representative of a group with different values, beliefs, and characteristics than mainstream society. Images of the outsider have been prominent in all literature, history and cultures.
Educationally speaking, these images and texts can and should be analyzed from literary, social, and political perspectives by all students. More importantly, the outsider in the form of the second language (L2) learner may potentially be the type of learner most likely to connect with and appreciate--both cognitively and emotionally--images of the outsiders of any language’s literary and historical present or past.
The simple reasoning behind this hypothesis is based upon the L2 learners own special role as outsiders (from an L1 or first-language-of-student perspective) looking into an L2 and the L2’s culture of users. The major implication and burden for L2 educators is that if the L2 learner is unable to appreciate the L2’s cultural experience, the L2 educators will need to be actively playing the important role of increasing the students understanding of and linkages to the texts. Videos, movies, audio recordings, and written texts-all sorts of authentic material--make up the necessary material that educators must use in introducing the L2 learners as outsiders to an L1 culture as listeners, readers, and observers.A METAPHOR: “PASSING” AND THE “OUTSIDER”
Not so many years ago, in the United States, the term “passing” was used to indicate that someone from the African-American community with light skin was trying “to pass” as a white-skinned individual in a white-skinned dominated America. The benefits of “passing as white” were considered quite high and several American movies, such as Imitation of Life of the 1930s and Pinkie of the 1940s, dealt with this issue in the U.S.A. in the era leading up to the explosive civil rights’ successes in the later 1950s and 1960s.
In several ways, when a person with diligence attempts to learn another’s language, that person is indicating that he or she desires the ability to “communicate” in that language at a level roughly equivalent to “passing”. The language learner wishes to “pass” at a level whereby she can enter into the inner circle of speakers of that target language. Depending on the degree of integration with the target language desired or expected by a particular L2 (second language) learner, the L2 learner will exhibit many of the same motivational desires and cross-cultural stresses which one might have observed in an African-American who chose to pass for white in mid-20th century America.
Although to various degrees this particular metaphor of “passing” may appear to be an extreme one, the two levels that appear most appropriate for comparison are at the levels of psycho- and socio-linguistic stress, which the L2 learner faces (or will face) in a fully immersed foreign or second language learning situation.
Regardless as to (1) whether the language learner has left or will leave her own homeland to live and work in another culture or (2) whether he or she is seeking to learn the new language specifically in order to deal with foreigners in his or her own country, the L2 has to handle the feelings of being an outsider (or being perceived of as an outsider) by the group which speaks the language, which the L2 is trying to acquire.
In other words, at various levels of cross-cultural contact, the language learner is trying to pass as an accepted member of the target language group. At times, the level of acceptance desired is likely affected or modulated by emotional stress. This is especially the case as when the L2 learner perceives that she is giving up her own culture or sense-of-self in the process of linguistic acculturation.
In short, the individual L2 learner is rewriting herself in the process of new L2 experiences of acquisition and acculturation. All these dimensions are at the heart of the “passing” metaphor, which to a certain extent drives the theory expounded for educators in this paper.SOCIOLOGY, COGNITION, CULTURE & LANGUAGE
In The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition, Tomasello (1999:6) distinguishes between cultural learning and other forms of learning. The three core types of cultural learning are “imitative learning,” “instructed learning,” and “collaborative learning.” Watching, observing, and discussions about authentic visual, audio, and written texts in the target language provide the basis for all three types of learning for language students.
It is important to note, however, that each type of cultural learning is “made possible by a single very special form of cognition, namely the ability of individual organisms to understand conspecies as being like themselves who have intentional and mental lives like their own.” This simply means that a representative of the human species has the ability to mentally put herself in the shoes of the other.
According to Tomasello (1999), biological-, and socio-anthropologists, the appropriate use of intersubjectively “understood linguistic symbols” requires even a child language learner to:
(1) Understand others as intentional agents
(2) Participate in joint attentional scenes that set the social-cognitive grounds for acts of symbolic-- including linguistic--and communication
(3) Understand the intentions and communicative intentions to which someone else intends for her to attend to during the joint attentional scene
(4) Reverse roles with adults in the cultural learning process ad thereby use toward them what they have used toward her, i.e., which actually creates the intersubjectively understood communicative convention or symbol. Tomasello (1999:107)
Further, Tomasello points out that “learning linguistic symbols in this way puts young children in a position to begin taking advantage of all kinds of skills and knowledge preexisting in their local communities and cultures as a whole.”
The aforementioned “passing” metaphor, noted in the previous section, contains the understanding that L2 learners of all ages bring their local (L1) communities and culture to the table when acquiring the L2. Another important aspect of the metaphor is namely that L2 acquisition involves acquisition of other’s (L2) cultural symbols and to some degrees the cultural memory of the L2 community.
Finally, one other implication of this paper is that L2 instructors should note that both the acquisition of cultural information and an L2 learner’s cognitive ability to interpret it are not limited by innate cognitive development. Therefore, at face-value the age of the L2 learner should not affect acquisition of many of the cultural linguistic facets of the L2 cultural community. In addition, it is also likely that individual affective elements play the greatest of roles in either limiting or enhancing a learner’s ability to manipulate symbols and improve cultural intersubjectivity in L2 acquisition for both learners as individuals2 and communities of learners. On the other hand as noted above in the discussion on Tomasello’s observations, many elements of cognitive development in language manipulation depend on the presence of certain socio-cultural environments promoting intersubjectivity. This is why the selection of texts and the teaching of both cultural insider and cultural outsider information are relevant areas of research, development, and teaching of second languages.PSYCHOLOGY & L2 ACQUISITION AND TEACHING
Probably no subject area of education is so teacher dependent for its success as the teaching of a foreign language.3 This does not imply that the (L2) course must be taught as a teacher-centered one but simply that the instructor has the constant burden of creating a context that is both psycho- and socio-linguistically supportive of the acquisition of the second or foreign language. This is why authenticity of L2 content became a buzzword in the field of FL instruction during the last half of the 20th century in the area of foreign language instruction. By this emphasis on authenticity or “real contexts” for learning and practicing language implies that there has been a shift in focus to the psychology of education, especially the psychological perspective of language learners in recent decades.
A short summary of the trends in the field of foreign language education in the latter half of the 20th century might begin within the 1970s with Tausch and Tausch (1973) who focused on the relationship between teacher and student in their research on classrooms and found that the teacher’s behavior is of utmost importance for the foreign language classroom. In other words, the psychological processes involving the social relationships in the classroom, especially between teacher and student, were judged as key to success in any L2 classroom.
In the latter part of the decade, social interaction and communication became the dominant areas of experimentation in both FL research and in the development of foreign language teaching methodologies. For example, introduced in the 1970s and 1980s were the methods of Total Physical Response or TPR (Asher, 1977) and the Silent Way (Chamot & McKeon, 1984). Both the Silent Way and TPR focused on giving the language learner time to observe and imitate the instructor.
Eventually, however, TPR became ever-more relegated to the role of a singular classroom activity-rather than as a regularly used method for framing an educational program. In the meantime, the Silent Way was soon criticized for placing the teacher in a role far too distant from the students. Next, the Natural Approach (Krashen, 1982) came into vogue. The Natural Approach, with its focus on everyday language and with the teacher asked to provide “comprehensible input” at an ever more difficult or newly informative level.
As part of these trends, in the late 1960s and early 1970s a focus on “communicative competency” was gathering steam. Communicative competency had been speared by theorists, such as Dell Hymes (1972, 1974), who had argued for language methodologists to define objectives for FL instruction away from the purely linguistic, especially syntactic and phonetic, elements which had dominated in previous decades.
Communicative competence emphasized both conveying and interpreting meaning, i.e. aiding students in negotiating interpersonally in specific contexts, while pushing emphasis in the classroom away from syntax. Educational psychologists focused on “context” and defined “context” as either (a) the immediate physical environment of the L2 learner, (b) the verbal environment of the L2 learner, or (c) “the social and psychological world in which the language user operates at any given time (Ochs, 1979).”
Today, most L2 instructors, such as Taeschner (1991), emphasize the learning of vocabulary or sentences in “context”, i.e. teaching (1) through “real life situations,” (2) through the usage of “direct motivational methods to stimulate learning,” and (3) through the promotion of imagination by employing activities in and out of the classroom. These activities invite students to pretend they are in the target culture’s environmental domain. Whereas Taeschner (1991) invites teachers to promote what she calls “Let’s Pretend”4 activities, this paper suggests that by focusing on texts concerning “the Other” in the role of “the Outsider,” the L2 learner of all ages will be extremely motivated to identify with or ponder about the relationships manifest or discussed in the visual, written, or spoken texts.OUTSIDERS AND THEIR COGNITIVE AND INTERTEXTUAL MEANING
In Cognition to Language: Categories, Word Meanings, and Training, Mabel Rice (1980:6) noted that the psycholinguistic or developmental approach to language training needs to be distinguished from earlier behavioralist-dominated models by the fact that the behavioralist models typically “never mention any aspects of meaning or underlying cognition as factors to be considered in teaching a child functional language skills.
The developmentalists argue that such conceptual organization is of central significance; indeed, that it accounts for the meaningful use of appropriate novel utterances across different contexts.” Good L2 learners need to be particularly active in interpreting and comprehending language and contexts outside of their own previous experience. Texts, visuals, feelings, and experiences need to be observed and evaluated if someone is expecting to be able to interpret anything outside oneself.
This is no easy task. As an L2 instructor, one must certainly be ready to select both appropriate and thematically balanced material when designing curricula which should motivate cognitively as well as through the special dimensions of empathy and other devices of the affective domain. Using the theme of “the Outsider” certainly is a topic certainly promoted both in film and literature for its educational and motivational. Such themes also provide fodder for analyzing one’s own culture against either the written text or the one portrayed on the video or movie screen.
In Rewriting the Self, Mark Freeman (1993:5) claims, “Interpreting what exists outside of ourselves is difficult enough. It involves a going-beyond what is, an effortful act of creating a context, within which what is must be placed. What this means, of course, is that interpretation involves an inescapably subjective dimension....” In the rewriting-of-self involved in learning an L2--and in trying to integrate oneself to any degree into the culture which uses the L2--, the L2 learner certainly has to rewrite herself to some degree. One does this by exploring one’s own language and history as well as through observing the other culture and the behaviors in it.
Concerning the one who is “rewriting” himself, Freeman (1993:7) appropriately ponders whether “the ultimate interest is in fact in an enhanced understanding of human lives and not only in the words that are used to speak them....” Focusing on dominant culture and the relationships between these culture and the outsiders or the other, is surely an optimal path for enhancing understanding of all lives. More importantly, the individual who is rewriting herself is interested in this, too. Further, as indicated above, the outsider focus is also a means of discussing the observed behaviors of others-interpreting the treatment of others and rewriting one’s self in relationship to “the other”.
Freeman (1993:8) argues that if “texts refer to anything at all, it might be held, it is only to other texts, this chain of ‘intertextuality’ being endless, infinite; and what this implies, in turn, is that there may really be no ‘lives’ apart from this infinite play of language itself.” L2 learners, are in essence, particularly active in observing texts of the other and trying to relate all others-especially to the degree they perceive themselves as outsiders-to themselves and to their own previously experienced contexts.
When a movie or literary text discusses or presents an outsider or alternative group (or thought to the primary or dominant group depicted) in an observed text and embedded in another’s culture, cognitive and affective cues are already present or on hand for the L2 learner to find a hold for her own intersubjective understanding and interpretation.
Included with these understandings is the concept that the L2 learner perceives to have some things in common with the other or the outsider. Most importantly, a sense of empathy is possible and even likely fostered in observing the relationship between the dominant culture and outsider. This in turn increases the bonds between the cultural experience of the L2 learner and that cultural experience observed as an outsider--and presented in the literary or visual text presented in the L2 classroom.
Another way of understanding this, is to think of one’s own life by itself as being seen in context in a chain of contexts of others in which one can be either the insider or the outsider. Therefore, when one attempts to make sense of one’s life or of the other’s lives, one then chooses to use a self-selected core plot to hold together a single narration between all these contexts together in one’s mind. Using stories of historical outsiders, such as Helen Keller in her own autobiography which Freeman used in his work, Freeman himself (1993:19) points out that the “interconnected triad of history, memory, and narrative, might serve as a kind of central pivot around which to think about human lives and human development.”
Given that human development is the name of the game in education and that foreign language acquisition includes certain elements of manipulating the self, it appears that L2 instructors certainly need to consider selecting texts and media for usage in their courses which appeal to this thoughtful and contemplative dimension of the L2 learner’s experience. As mentioned above, one means of doing this is certainly by choosing themes, similar to that of the outsider as a core source of such selected literature and audio-visual texts.
Such themes could include the story of a great one who has fallen, been shunned in one’s own society, and is trying to reintegrate himself in some way, such as the life story of John Nash in the recent film, A Beautiful Mind.
Another way the character of John Nash in the same film is important is the fact that he had a debilitating mental disorder; films of both fact and fiction which might be used in the classroom and maintain this same theme include the movies: The Grover Cleveland Alexander Story, Forrest Gump, and I am Sam. Choosing such a theme provides not only insight into how one integrates but why one is (or may be) excluded.
Also, if such a tale is told with emphasis on culture and historical perspective, later literature and films can fill in the gaps concerning what has continued to evolve in a society over time since the protagonist last faced the L2 society. In this way, empathy is created between the L2 learner who may often view himself as one with the outsiders in literature and film. Secondly, the L2 learner can see the film or text as another stepping stone to further acculturation and integration over the course of a semester.
Empathy not only provides points of intellectual and emotional contact for the L2 learner but the same dimensions of empathy can, through the pedagogically sound confrontation with the material, L2 learners can put the pieces of a series of literary and other media texts together over time. This leads the L2 learner to come to identity with the evolving relationships in society over generations. Such cultural knowledge, passed down through generations of experience and change in a society, is what any native-speaking language community brings to the table of intra-communal relationships at both overt and subliminal levels each day.
On the other hand, the changing concept-of-self that evolves in any language community over time is occasionally witnessed and appreciated by some outsiders to the community with more clarity than by some of those in the community, who are most involved with negotiating the changes on a day-to-day level. In short, through text and film, our students become like the main character in H. G. Wells’ The Time-Machine.
Whenever someone views any series of texts about a culture over-time, i.e. texts which reveal changes in attitudes and behaviors over generations, one is actually behaving as a time-traveling outsider bouncing through history. As a time-traveling outsider through history, such as the main protagonists in either the popular TV series Quantum Leap or Michael J. Fox’s Back to the Future movies, a culture’s own continuity and ruptures can be understood and appreciated to a greater degree and more quickly than it was--or has been appreciated--by those who are living out their lives in the same period of time.THE OUTSIDER ACROSS VARIOUS L2 CURRICULA
Most interestingly, often many of the more insightful films, legends, myths, and even musical texts, which represent the great breadth of the American experience to non-natives of English, focus on or present the outsider as both main characters and as prominent supporting characters: Pinky (1948), West Side Story (1962), Fiddler on the Roof (1970), Born on the Fourth of July (1988), Dances with Wolves (1990), Malcolm X (1992), JFK (1991), Forrest Gump(1994), For Richer or Poorer (1996), and As Good as it Gets (1997) are among some of those works with which my ESL and EFL students worked with in recent semesters here in the United States and abroad in Latin America and in the Middle East.
Nearly two decades ago in the 1980s, I studied Spanish and German languages and American literature at the Bergische University in Wuppertal, Germany when I took American literature courses. In various courses, I was asked to read books by the American authors, novels by Upton Sinclair and short stories by Phillip Crane, and saw movies based on these men’s works, such as Crane’s iconoclastic "The Blue Hotel." Early-20th Century America’s most universally published and translated author, Upton Sinclair has continued to have world-wide popularity for his having favored "the outsider" in his description of America's coming to age as a global power. Sinclair's especially sympathetic portrayals of immigrants and the poor in all of his major works successfully challenged basic assumptions of his age and challenge historians to rethink American historical memory in novels, such as King Coal (1918) and The Jungle (1906).
The critical description of America in Upton Sinclair’s writings have become more modern and relevant in recent years—predating in style and content books like those that have inspired the GANGS OF NEW YORK in historical fiction and are educational and inspiring in nature, like the real-life story portrayed in the film AMERICAN FREEDOM WRITERS.
A common thread in all these aforementioned movies and narratives mentioned above is the strong presence of “outsider” (or one who feels himself to be an outsider) characters in a community of marginalized people living outside of the dominant culture. Alternatively, protagonists in dominant circles who have discovered themselves to feel as outsiders-even in what they had once perceived as their own culture--are portrayed.
A few years later, I found myself active as both a high school German and Spanish instructor. In Spanish classes, I chose to use the classic El Norte (1983), a trilingual film which depicted the cultural clashes experienced by Guatemalan refugees making their way to “the Promised Land of the U.S.” and specifically a brother and sister’s attempts to acculturate themselves in their new world. In addition, I used adapted tales of Don Quixote and its many “outsider” characters, to motivate even the most elementary level language learners.
As a high school German instructor a decade ago, I used the movies Die Bruecke (1954), Heinrich Boll’s Ende eines Dienstfahrts (1966), and Guenther Grass’s Der Blechtrommel (1979) in all three levels of German that I taught. All three of the films dealt with either experiences familiar to Germans in the war or how the post-War German society handled memories of the Nazi dominated 1930s and the Second World War. At the time, it was particularly important to use these military related films because the Gulf War was on everyone’s minds that particular 1990-1991 school year in the U.S.-and Germany had, in line with its own Post-WWII constitutional tradition, initially taken a somewhat neutral stance in participating in that war. In addition, I was co-leading that year an exchange program involving nearly 30 students and families on both sides of the Atlantic in Great Bend, Kansas and Villengen-Schenningen in the newly unified Germany, I saw it important to select such films to provide insight into three-plus decades of popular discussion on war that had gone on in West Germany in the Cold War era.
When I, myself, had been a student of German language in Wuppertal, Germany in the 1980s, I was required to read many works by Heinrich Boll, such as Ansichten eines Clownes, Billard um Halbzehn, and Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum. These literary works had given me great insight into post-WII West German culture and, although seldom read in German high schools today, they are very appropriate to the study of society and politics in the post-Vietnam through Anti-Terrorist war period of the U.S. today. Particularly, the Katarina Blum work, which tells of love, terrorism, and free speech would therefore be very insightful works for usage in German classes today for American audiences.
While taking part as a student in a wonderful program at the University of Kansas nearly a decade called Kansas University Languages Across the Curriculum (KULAC), later I acquired both historical and social depth in understanding recent Latin American history, film and literature. Through a course that provided not only insight into Latin American and Chicano writers’ experiences in the last half of the 20th century, I was given a new depth of understanding concerning both American Cinema as well as history.
The literature and film course, for example, presented the theme of Latino culture in America-much as the current PBS drama series, The American Family does on a weekly basis today. For the first time, I looked at the “zoot suit riots” in Los Angeles in the 1940s by both watching the musical Zoot Suit and by reading historical literature on those same events. Later, we studied Manuel Puig’s Argentinian experience with film and literary criticism as revealed in the movie Kiss of the Spider Women and his book of the same name. As both a leftist radical and as a homosexual, Puig’s own biography tells us the story of both his Peronist hometown Buenos Aires of the 1950s and of Cuba in the 1960s--as Puig faces repression in both society’s and comes to critique the world as an outsider wherever he walked. While at the same time, Puig remains enamored by the empathy and sympathy for other cultures evoked by him through visual media.ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND THE OUTSIDER IN AMERICA
In summary, through my experiences both as a lifelong teacher of foreign languages-especially as an ESL or EFL instructor of students from some seventy different nations-and as a former instructor of the social sciences, literature, and culture, I have posited in this conceptual piece the following: (1)The outsiders portrayed in movies, media, and literature play an important role in the collective memories of all peoples and language groups, especially in America and for Americans. (2) This collective memory is something which many foreign students and non-native speakers of English not only desire to come to know and understand while becoming ever more immersed in simply as learners of a target language but is (3) also something which the L2 learners often eventually wish to experience and identify with when coming in contact with individual American communities, authentic American cultural products, or American personalities whom they have seen or met. (4) Many EFL--and other second language learners identify--with the outsider role as they acquire English other new languages and related cultural norms. Finally, it has been specifically posited that (5) by consciously exposing these L2 students to the outsider dimension in American film and by consciously teaching American history and culture--along with the usage of such films, texts, and media sources--, L2 learners increase their own self-confidence while improving their listening, reading, observation, and clarification skills.
Moreover, all this happens while L2 students are increasing their individual cross-cultural and cognitive awareness as they comprehend and become sensitive to the complexity of the American reality. For example, whether one sees the movie or musical Ragtime, observes the life and times of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods in the national press, or studies Spike Lee’s film about the life of Malcom X (which is based loosely on Malcom Little’s own autobiography as told to Alex Haley), the American English language learning student is made aware that the black community’s story in America is not a unified one. Salience is created as all kinds of infighting and alternative leadership is introduced come to make up this and other outsider groups’ self-identity. The salience is increased as the student internalizes the contradictory forces in a historically marginalized community or class. The student becomes even better at this through the comparative approach across texts in time and space.
The main emphasis, related to the framework outlined above, is that an instructor need be aware of the positive cognitive and motivational backwash on L2 acquisition that can be had by carefully selecting media and texts which focus on the use of "outsiders" as main protagonists. American literature, film, and media are simply awash in this outsider-based material concerning both individuals and groups. On the one hand, there are stories of rugged individuals dating back to the literature of Thomas Jefferson.
There are also fictional Horatio Alger characters praised in the post-Civil War period, and Ayn Rand-type characters in 20th century literature and film. There have also been the critical prophets and radicals, like John Brown, Shirley Jackson, or the Berrigan Brothers. Further, there are the Chief Josephs who will fight-no-more forever. There are the nouveau rich, such as The Great Gatsby or the loner road philosopher, such as Jack Kerouak or Walt Whitman. Finally, there are breakers of rules and stereotypes, including the fictional Dirty Harry figure famous in Clint Eastwood films or the fairly authentic and recent Erin Brockavich.
American history-as well as its literature, theater, and film-is rife with “outsider” group struggles as well. These include sad events and trying times in the U.S. experience-events and times that have formed our collective memory and help us formulate who are and where we need to go or improve as a people. Such a group experience is that of the Jacksonian era Cherokees and their Trail of Tears. There were also the witches burned at the stake in Salem. Other persecuted groups would certainly include the concentration camps for Japanese in WWII America.
There is also the black women’s double-marginalization as victims of black machismo and white America’s racism in the American experience, as exemplified by Ceci in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple or in the real manifestations of the historical Fannie Lou Hamer (Lee: 2000) or in the film of Billy Holiday’s life, Lady Sings the Blues.
There are also American stories of success for marginal or oppressed groups in the American experience, such as first women’s right struggle culminating in the passage of the 19th Amendment in the early 20th Century. Other civil rights events included activities by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks in the successful Montgomery Boycott Movement in 1950’s Alabama. These late 20th century American societal changes reflect an ever greater concern with civil rights manifested both in America foreign policy and media as the new century dawns. These civil rights movements led to greater Maranda rights, rights for the handicapped, more rights for workers, and prisoners-as well as support for the poor and marginalized by the government. Many marginalized groups in America moved from outsider positions in U.S. society to becoming slowly more accepted in the main stream of popular American conscience and opinion.
A reoccurring theme of this paper is that although instruction in American history and culture for English as either second language or foreign Language students is certainly motivating, pedagogically speaking the experience can be much more than simply one of among many sources of motivation for the L2 student. For example, exposure to and the discussion of “outsider” related themes can provide a laboratory-like simulations for our students. The authentic material on the outsider can provide interactive and intertextual experiences, which approximate authentic American experience outside of a contained L2 classroom.
One final point is that learning to view the world from the outsider’s perspective should help Americans as a whole to use critical thinking skills that have been lacking in our foreign relations with other nations around the world. Bridging this gap is one of the most important reasons that interest in Arab language acquisition has increased since the U.S. Iraq invasion began in 2003. WORKS CITED
2008, Society for Interdisciplinary Studies of Social Imagery (SISSI), Colorado Springs, http://chass.colostate-pueblo.edu/sissi/sissi_2008.html
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