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Towards a Cultura Franca

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


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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“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” (The New York Times) Senator Barack Obama says to his supporters after the nominee contests in Illinois, United States of America in 2008. This quote from Senator Barack Obama’s speech succinctly points to one of man’s distinct characteristics: rather than getting proactive ourselves, we prefer to wait for someone else to make the first move. The current worldwide situation with its growing potential for conflict between different ethnic, national, and religious groups needs and calls for change, and for people willing to take on this task. The stakes are high, the challenges manifold, and not at all easy to solve, but waiting will not change anything for the better. Over the last decades, and especially over the last few years, waves of refugees and immigrants have come from all parts of the world to Germany. Germany has not only become an immigration country; it has become a multicultural and a multi-religious country. And whereas in earlier times most minority groups led an almost invisible life within the dominant society, the demographic change has become very visible lately and also a source of great concern. Simultaneously with the new arrivals, a wave of discrimination seems to overrun us. Terms like nationalism, patriotism, and ‘Germanness’ that once had a bitter aftertaste receive new recognition and have become part of the daily media coverage....

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