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Towards a Cultura Franca

Contemporary American Civil and Human Rights Drama in the Foreign Language Classroom

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Jeannette U. Böttcher

This book is mapping the fields of modern output-oriented teaching, intercultural learning, and drama methods in the foreign language class. It explains that drama-based language learning transcends the usual learning scopes in its practical relevance and its far-reaching contextual implications. By including (inter-)cultural aspects, as well as human and civil rights issues, modern teaching can provide students with new frames of references and shifts their attention from an individualistic worldview towards a more tolerant perception of «the other.» The term of «cultura franca» hints at a liberation of cultural restraints and this is exactly what is indispensable in order to educate students to become the interculturally adept speakers our modern time needs.

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Part I: Setting the Stage: Culture and its Derivatives in Modern Society

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The first part takes stock of the cultural parameters which underlie enculturation and the educational processes, while especially focusing on the inherent concepts of ethnicity and multiculturalism, and on the development of intercultural communicative competence as one of the key qualifications to impart to students.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In a general educational climate that promotes globalism and multiculturalism as well as acceptance and appreciation of the foreign, it is remarkable that the topic of cultural belonging seems more prominent than ever before. In spite of the frequent proclamations of openness and tolerance, there is a blatant contradiction between these virtues and the – just as frequent – demonstrations of violence, nationalism, and racism in modern cities all across the globe. Irrespective of high-speed internet communication, worldwide travel, and transnational business connections, we modern human beings are still not the sophisticated cosmopolitans we believe ourselves to be. The closer we get to each other physically, the more it appears important to mark our territories: in the literal sense of the word, like the US border with Mexico, or the Mediterranean Sea that separates poor Africa from rich Europe, but also in the figurative sense, as quite a large number of people feel compelled to rush to the defense of their cultural or political or ideological values, which they feel are threatened by ‘hyperxenesis.’ Resentment can, and has in the recent past, developed into...

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