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Cultural Anthropology will go Open Access in 2014
“The Society for Cultural Anthropology (a section of the American Anthropological Association) is excited to announce a groundbreaking publishing initiative. With the support of the AAA, the influential journal of the SCA, Cultural Anthropology, will become available open access, freely available to everyone in the world.”
Cultural anthropology is important and practical
In regards to people thinking anthropology is totally useless let me tell you something. I just finished my degree in anthropology. I am currently training to be a TESOL teacher, that is, Teaching English to Students of Other Languages. The vast majority of the students that I will be working with during my student teaching and during my career are from immigrant or refugee families.
The field of TESOL is not entirely that old. Before programs were implemented in US schools, support for (non-native) English Language Learners (aka ELLs) was not that great and in some respects programs still have a lot of areas it needs to improve in. That’s a long story short.
Anyways, part of the program requires that future teachers be educated in a variety of areas including psychology and linguistics. However, ELLs come from different cultural backgrounds and their status as immigrants, refugees, and/or first and second generation Americans means that they face some unique challenges. For this reason, future teachers are also required to take courses that will teach them how to recognize these additional challenges and identify unique behaviors and cultural practices these children exhibit. Why? - because things like this happen:
Teacher A notices that student A is not doing something right in class, so they reprimand the student. Student A smiles at teacher A. Thinking that the student is mocking them, teacher A begins to shout at the student. Student A is nervous but continues to smile. Teacher B who has been trained as a TESOL teacher notices this and quickly explains to teacher A that the student understands what they were doing wasn’t right, but smiling to someone who is superior to them is a sign of respect in their culture.
This is based on a real incident relayed to me by another TESOL teacher. Miscommunication due to cultural difference happens often in the classroom between uninformed teachers and students. This can have negative consequences on the student and hinder success in school.
There are a variety of other factors teachers need to understand when it comes to ELLs. One is recognizing the differences between being a student with a (learning) disability and being an ELL student. Some of the factors that contribute to differences between ELLs’ experiences in school and other students are, but not limited to the following:
- Background (escaping military regimes, extreme poverty, warfare)
- Irregular access to education (these students are known as SIFEs - Students with Interrupted Formal Education)
- Group vs. Individual mentalities upheld by native culture (aka their C1 - “culture 1”)
- Different cultural expectations - ex. schooling is not an immediate concern because it does not immediately benefit the family economically
- Acculturation, culture shock - adapting from C1 (native) to C2 (American culture)
- Linguistic differences between L1 (native language) and L2 (English)
- Possible Limited English Proficiency (L2) as well as Limited Proficiency in their Native Language (L1)
- Non-verbal differences (proxemics/sociolinguistics)
- Interaction patterns and learning/teaching differences (in methodology)
- Discrimination unique to their status as refugee/immigrant students
- Different perceptual categorization (ex. colors, numbers, etc.)
- Orthographic (writing) differences - for example, some of the students coming to us do not have a written language, it is only spoken.
All of these require interventions and accommodations that will aid students in getting through these challenges to achieve success. Ultimately, there are a lot of odds stacked against these students and these students are at high risk. This is why it requires a lot of training on the teachers’, counselors’, etc. part to provide these interventions/accommodations, which in essence means a well rounded education involving education in linguistic and cultural anthropology.
Hey anthro students, enthusiasts, and lovers!
If there is anything I have learned about the anthropology community on tumblr it’s that everyone is so nice! And on top of that all of the blogs are so interesting and informative. So here are a few of my favorites, I have many so if I forgot you I am sorry! If you run an anthropology themed tumblr please re-blog with your URL so other anthropologists (myself included) can check you out!
go go go