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Natali Mendoza

2008 Research

Abstract: Implications of Cultural Awareness on the Development of a Distance Language Course

Mentor: Dr. Gina Petrie, Modern Languages, Literature and Philosophy

This paper describes a qualitative study in which the notions of social and psychological distance (Schumann, 1990)--theories about the impact of cultural comfort on language acquisition-- were explored in the creation of an English as a foreign language distance course. This course was created to instruct university students in Iraq in the skill of writing English through the technologies of Podcasting, iTunesU and Blackboard. The researcher chose this course to explore social and psychological distance between the U.S. instructors and the Iraqi students because two factors suggested potential barriers: media portrayal created a misinterpretation of information, and the course context was also full of unknowns that later became fears. The researcher carriedout ethnographic interviews with six participants who played various roles in the course development including the interim English language program director, English program course developer, instructional technology specialist, educational outreach staff member, and an online course developer. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed along with meeting notes and course documents. It was discovered that the course developers experienced tension and fear at various levels according to the amount of exposure and experience they had in dealing with the Iraqi population. This led to different approaches in creating the course, and varied the nature of individual involvement in the project. It is hoped that this presentation will aid in the future development of English language distance courses.


12th Annual EWU Student Research and Creative Works Symposium: May 20, 2009

U North Texas McNair Conference and Graduate School Fair; Feb. 20-22, 2009

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