Academic Spotlight: 'Glocalization' in the teaching of Literature

by Jomar Ferrer Morena, Literature Instructor

In the context of teaching English as an international language, Kirkpatrick and Sussex (2012) define ‘glocalization’ as the interaction between English and local languages and societies in a non-English-speaking countries, and the resulting evolution of the English language in that locality as the use of English becomes more widespread.

What I am sharing is an attempt to ‘glocalize’ my lesson in Grade 7 Literature, as influenced by my teaching experiences in the Philippines and as how I understand how the teaching of English is done here in Taiwan.

The lesson is derived from the 4th Unit of the prescribed textbook, which is about Human Intelligence. The teaching goals include: a) reading a variety of text types, b) building on one another’s ideas, developing consensus, and communicating with one another, and c) incorporating audio, visuals, and text in presentations.

From the discussion of the short story, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, the class was divided into three groups. One student had decided to work independently. They were asked to look for news articles about Children with Special Needs in Taiwan, study them, and create reports. Their presentations had the following parts: a) mental health issues or conditions, b) specific contexts or situations, and c) realizations from the activity.

Their chosen news articles were about children with Tourette syndrome, communication disorders and chronic vertigo. Here are what the students’ had realized from the activity:

“We should not make fun of people who have Tourette Syndrome. Sometimes, they really want to control themselves, but they can’t because they are sick. Teachers should not also get them into trouble for the actions and sounds they make. They are also in pain sometimes, so we have to treat them like normal people. We need to learn to be kind and help out the people who have Tourette Syndrome.” - G7 Emily H and Hannah

“I realize that respect is very important to everyone because if you say something bad to someone, you may hurt them, and maybe that makes them want to give up or think that they have no hope. If you respect others, then they will respect you and also make less conflict, so that’s why I think respect is very important to everyone.” - G7 Rex

“I think we need to have empathy for them, not because they are people with mental disability but because they are also people who have the same rights. They didn’t choose to be this way, no one wants to have mental disabilities, their parents also didn’t choose it, it is how they were born. This is their fate.” - G7 Rachel and Ruby

In this lesson, I attempted to make the glocal English learning be more meaningful to my students by making them study not only the literary text that can be found in the textbook (global), but also by extending their research on what can be found in their country (local). In every teaching which results to students’ learning, prioritizing students’ motivation and interest is a must, which can also be achieved through glocalization.

The teaching of literature enhances students’ language proficiency, as such, the use of global learning activities and materials takes the learners a step closer to the target language without affecting the purity of the source language or culture. Moreover, if the students can get English into their local context usage confidently, then English becomes a language of easy learning. Perhaps, English language and literature teachers may consider glocalization in (re)thinking their pedagogical practices.

Reference: Kirkpatrick, A. & Sussex R. (2012) English as an international language in Asia: implications for language education. Springer Netherlands.