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Reading Between the Lines

Reading Between the Lines: Perspectives on Foreign Language Literacy

Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Reading Between the Lines
    Book Description:

    This book presents a collection of new and stimulating approaches to reading in a foreign language. The contributors to the volume all place reading at the heart of learning a foreign language and entering a foreign culture, and they consider issues and methods of language education from such diverse perspectives as cognitive theory, applied linguistics, technology as hermeneutic, history, literary theory, and cross-cultural analysis.The contributors-teachers of French, German, Greek, Japanese, and Spanish-call for language teachers and theorists to refocus on the importance of reading skills. Emphasizing the process of reading as analyzing and understanding another culture, they document various practical methods, including the use of computer technology for enhancing language learning and fostering cross-cultural understanding.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13083-6
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Between the lines. . . The titular metaphor of this book has an admittedly Zen-like or postmodern character. It suggests presence by absence, meaning where nothing is written, a third or higher dimension hidden from the view of those who inhabit Flatland. At the same time, it is a simple and common metaphor that affirms that every text is more than the sum of its parts, that every text means more than the linear assembly of its individual words, their dictionary definitions, their morphology or structure, and their syntactic relations with other words. A text does more than realize...

  5. 1 Reading Cultures and Education
    (pp. 9-23)

    In this essay I wish to invite reflection on reading or, more precisely, on reading culture. As a cultural historian and a classicist, I naturally want to ground my thoughts historically, and I propose to do so by means of contrapuntal sketches from the reading culture of classical antiquity. Indeed the reader will have to grant me some indulgence in rooting this set of reflections so particularly in my own deepest scholarly interest, which is the reading culture of the ancient Greeks. But I hope to convince you, first, that consideration of the “otherness” of an ancient reading culture can...

  6. 2 Literacy and Cognition
    (pp. 24-39)

    Fifty thousand years ago, more or less, during the Upper Paleolithic Age, our ancestors began the most spectacular advance in human history. Before then, we were a negligible group of large mammals. Afterward, we were supreme.

    The archaeological record suggests that during the Upper Paleolithic our ancestors acquired a cognitively modern human imagination, furnishing them with the ability to invent new concepts and to assemble new and dynamic mental patterns. As a result, human beings developed art, science, religion, culture, refined tool use, and language. What happened? How can we human beings do what we do?

    Before this period, the...

  7. 3 Literacy as a New Organizing Principle for Foreign Language Education
    (pp. 40-59)

    In their recent analysis of articles related to the teaching of literature published inThe Modern Language Journalfrom 1916 to 1999, Kramsch and Kramsch (2000) identify the publication of the Coleman Report (Coleman 1929) as a pivotal moment that marked a dissociation of literacy from the study of literature. Whereas literature had traditionally been treated primarily in terms of its philological and aesthetic value, the focus of reading was now shifting toward what Kramsch and Kramsch characterize as a “literacy orientation” aimed at developing reading skills to access the informational content of texts. At the time, few literary scholars...

  8. 4 Playing Games with Literacy: The Poetic Function in the Era of Communicative Language Teaching
    (pp. 60-73)

    The literacy events of my college French class, a third-semester course, are the standard fare of today’s so-called communicatively oriented classroom: deciphering menus, skimming train schedules, analyzing polling data, scanning newspaper headlines, and so on. In contrast to my French classroom’s reality-based texts, the bedtime stories I read to my young daughter are concerned with imaginary worlds.The Cat in the Hatis one of our all-time favorites. With nonsensical words, catchy rhymes, and silly characters, Dr. Seuss keeps us thoroughly entertained.

    As if this juxtaposition of literacy contexts had not given me enough food for thought, two recent experiences...

  9. 5 Reading Between the Cultural Lines
    (pp. 74-98)

    Reading between the lines of any text is not a simple task. It requires an intimate knowledge of the writer’s point of view, of his or her intent, and of the overall context, as well as a deep understanding of the subtleties of language. The meaning of a text or a sentence can therefore be constructed differently by different readers, depending on their level of awareness in any of these areas: one reader may interpret a text literally, whereas another may be able to see through its outward layers and gain access to its underlying meanings. Reading between the cultural...

  10. 6 Reading and Technology in Less Commonly Taught Languages and Cultures
    (pp. 99-117)

    Interpreting a text is one of the most important components of language learning. Although it is a complicated procedure for any learner, it is especially challenging for students of less commonly taught languages. Most of these require a large amount of time to reach a certain point of proficiency. A teacher must spend much classroom time on formal aspects of these languages, such as various inflectional forms and complexities of the writing system. The fact that these languages are often not taught below the college level exacerbates the situation. Thus, when students of more commonly taught languages may be capable...

  11. 7 Experiential Learning and Collaborative Reading: Literacy in the Space of Virtual Encounters
    (pp. 118-143)

    It is likely no mere accident that innovations in educational technologies have contributed significantly to the renewed interest in the category of literacy in foreign language teaching and research. Although developing reading and writing skills has always been a hallmark of the foreign language curriculum at colleges and universities, the concept of literacy offers a new framework for thinking about reading and writing as intellectually rich processes that extend beyond skills development. At the same time, computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and, in particular, network-based language teaching (NBLT)—where “human-to-human communication is the focus” (Warschauer and Kern 2000, p. 1)—have...

  12. 8 Double-Booked: Translation, Simultaneity, and Duplicity in the Foreign Literature Classroom
    (pp. 144-158)

    The German wordOrchideenfächerrefers to academic subjects that are as beautiful and endangered as rare orchids—and as removed as these flowers from the political and practical concerns of daily life. Although English lacks a one-word equivalent, teachers of foreign language and literature in North America can instantly sense the metaphor’s double import. It suggests that what we do, lovely though it may be, does not connect with or influence the real world in the same way that engineering, for example, does. According to this metaphor, there is a unidirectional barrier between our disciplines and the real world. That...

  13. 9 Ethics, Politics, and Advocacy in the Foreign Language Classroom
    (pp. 159-168)

    Ethics, Politics, Morality, Advocacy—these are big words that I could never define to my own satisfaction, and probably not to anyone else’s. So rather than try to define them in any abstract sense, I would like to do what literary people and historians like me do best: I would like to tell some stories.

    The first story—actually more an observation than a story—comes fromLa Divina Commediaof Dante. In the poem Dante is allowed a lengthy journey during which he observes the state of many individuals enduring the punishments of Hell, undergoing the healing and reconciliation...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 169-172)
  15. Index
    (pp. 173-178)