English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 31.2
Volume 31 No 2 31 English Australia Journal of tertiary English language learners in Australia and the influence the lives they lead outside of the classroom has on their overall experience as international students. The authors noticed that it was very common for the free time of students to be spent in association with friends of the same nationality, or their classmates who were also from foreign countries. This association also commonly extends to home life in Australia, where it is almost the norm for students of the same nationality to end up living together, so often the only real association with Australians, for many students, appears to come from the relationship they have with their classroom teacher. While the classroom provides a cultural mix and a platform for language practice and development, access to the cultural elements associated with living in another country are often absent. This can be problematic as pointed out by Pruitt (1978), who suggested that adjustment of international students was poorer if they spent more leisure time with compatriots than with members of the host culture and language. This led the authors to wonder whether this was, in fact, the scenario that students had actually envisaged for themselves before they came to Australia – if, indeed, their current situation was close to what they had imagined at all. Further to this, the authors broach the issue of the teaching of culture in a foreign language learning environment in terms of its potential to bridge a gap between that community a learner imagines and what they are eventually faced with in reality. Culture learning is of particular import to international students as, together with language fluency and contact with host nationals, culture-specific knowledge has been associated with levels of sociocultural difficulty (Ward, 1996). Increased knowledge and understanding of the target culture can be facilitated through interactive encounters in the target language and culture in the context of language education (see Duff, 2007; Schiefflin & Ochs, 1986). Theoretical backdrop The theoretical foundations of the current study revolve around the notion of an imagined community – a concept of great relevance to the described situation. The concept of an imagined community was first put forward by Anderson (1991, p. 7) when he used the term to define the idea of nationalism. He stated that his own perception of the nation was as an ‘imagined political community’. It was imagined because ‘the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion’. He further explained that it is imagined as a community because even though there may exist severe inequality in any given country, the nation is still ‘conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship’ .
English Australia Journal 31.1
English Australia Journal 32.1