Teaching Culture through Reading Fairy Tales

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Teaching Culture through Reading Fairy Tales
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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Master's ( M.A.)
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University of Florida
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Language, Literature and Culture
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Difino, Sharon M
Committee Members:
Mennel, Barbara
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Classrooms ( jstor )
Fairy tales ( jstor )
Folk culture ( jstor )
Folktales ( jstor )
Foreign language learning ( jstor )
Language ( jstor )
Learning ( jstor )
Nonnative languages ( jstor )
Second language instruction ( jstor )
Teachers ( jstor )
Language, Literature and Culture -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
German thesis, M.A.


Teaching Culture Through Reading Fairy Tales Successful communication in a foreign language needs more than just words; it requires culture specific knowledge about the processes and thoughts behind the words. Therefore, teaching about the target culture in the foreign language classroom is essential. Yet, integrating more cultural content into the existing curriculum of faced-paced University language courses faces numerous challenges. The aim of this thesis is therefore to show how to teach culture in the German second language classroom easily and effectively though reading fairy tales. Elaborating on this thesis, I will first take a look at how culture connects to language and why it is particularly important to teach about culture in second language acquisition (SLA). Moreover, I will examine and evaluate different approaches to teaching culture before explaining why reading constitutes the most fruitful method of teaching about culture in SLA. Additionally, I assess possible reading materials regarding their suitability for my purposes. Next, I will elucidate what makes fairy tales an ideal reading text for teaching about culture in SLA before giving concrete examples for classroom implementation and concluding my findings of how to facilitate the students? language learning process by increasing cultural knowledge and understanding through reading fairy tales. ( en )
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Adviser: Difino, Sharon M.
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2 2011 Christina Cindy Walter


3 To my daughter Lea


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and foremost, I thank Dr. Ernst Bury, my High School German teacher. Most of what I know about German language und literature I learned from h im and I still thin k he should have taught at the u niversity level. Moreover, I am very thankful for the continuous support l received from the German Department at the University of Florida during my studies especially from Dr. Sharon DiFino and Dr. Bar bara Mennel who advised this thesis. In addition I thank Dr. Nicolas Syrett Assistant Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado. After taking his class, I knew I could do anything in my life, even attend Graduate School H e was also the first to teach me how to write an argument. Last but not least, I would like to thank Patrick Lee Gensler for all his love and never ending support. He was proofreader, cook, babysitter, dog walker and most important : he always gave me a hug, when I needed it most. I can not put in words what I owe him.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 7 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................. 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 10 2 TEACHING CULTURE ................................ ................................ ........................... 12 What Is Culture? ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 12 Why Teach Culture? ................................ ................................ ............................... 13 How to Teach Culture? ................................ ................................ ........................... 19 Lecture ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 20 Experiential Learning and Simulation ................................ ............................... 22 Language Culture Exploration through Interaction ................................ ........... 23 Reading ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 25 Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 27 3 READING AND CULTURE IN SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION (SLA) ......... 29 What Reading Means and the Role it Plays in SLA Today ................................ ..... 29 How Can Reading Facilitate Teaching Culture? ................................ ..................... 32 Possible Reading Materials in the L2 Classroom ................................ .................... 36 Textbooks ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 38 Non Fictional Reading ................................ ................................ ...................... 40 Fictional Reading ................................ ................................ .............................. 41 Results ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 44 4 TEACHING CULTURE THROUGH RE ADING FAIRY TALES IN THE GERMAN SECOND LANGUAGE ( L2 ) CLASSROOM ................................ ............................ 47 The Fairy Tale as Folk Narrative ................................ ................................ ............. 47 The Fairy Tale as Reading Text in Second Language Acquisition .......................... 48 The Fairy Tale and Teaching about Culture in SLA ................................ ................ 54 Teaching Culture through Reading Fairy Tales: The German Case ....................... 60 Teaching Culture through Reading Fairy Tales: An Overview ................................ 66


6 5 IDEAS FOR CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATION ................................ .................... 68 Teaching Approach ................................ ................................ ................................ 68 ................................ .................... 68 Pre ................................ .......................... 69 .................... 70 Post Reading Activities ................................ ................................ ..................... 71 Watch Excerpts of the Disney Movie in German ................................ .............. 72 ................................ ..... 72 Freedom and Self ................................ .......................... 74 Pre ................................ ......................... 75 .................... 75 Post Reading Activities ................................ ................................ ..................... 75 and ................................ ........... 77 Pre .......................... 78 ................................ ..................... 78 Post Reading Activities ................................ ................................ ..................... 78 Effects of Differences in Transportation and Parental Control .......................... 80 Outlook ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 80 6 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 82 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 84 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 88


7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 Comparison chart Grimm vs. Disney ................................ ................................ .. 73


8 LIST OF ABBREVIATION S L1 L2 SLT Second language teaching in a classroom envi ronment SL Second language, any language learned after the native language SLA Second language ac quisition


9 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements fo r the Degree of Master of Art TEACHING CULTURE THROUGH READING FAIRY TALES By Christina Cindy Walter May 2011 Chair: Sharon DiFino Major: German Successful communication in a foreign language needs more than just words; i t requires culture specific kn owledge about the processes and thoughts behind the words. Therefore, t eaching about the target culture in the foreign language classroom is essential Yet, integrating more cultural content into the existing curriculum of faced paced University language c ourses faces numerous challenges. The aim of this thesis is therefore to show how to teach culture in the German second l anguage ( L2 ) classroom easily and effectively though reading fairy tales Elaborating on this thesis, I will first take a look at how c ulture connects to language and why it is particularly important to teach about culture i n second language a cquisition (S LA ) Moreover, I will examine and evaluate different approaches to teaching culture before explaining why reading constitutes the most fruitful method of teaching about culture in SLA. Additionally, I assess possible reading materials regarding their suitability for my purposes. Next, I will elucidate what makes fairy tales an ideal reading text for teaching about culture in SLA before gi v ing concrete examples for classroom implementation and conclud ing my increas ing cultural knowledge and understanding through reading fairy tales.


10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODU CTION Even though German and American cultures are generally viewed as similar, as both origin ate fro m western cultures, shortly after my first semester teaching German at the University of Florida had begun, I realized that there exist more cultural differences between the two populations than I had expected. Moreover, the cultural differences connect to disparities in language, which repeatedly caused problems among the second language learners whom I taught. Consequently, I began looking for a way to integrate more cultur language learning. First, I turned to textbooks for help. However, textbooks frequently neglect existing cultural differences between the native and the target language. Even though seco nd language acquisition (SLA) t heory very much emphasizes the importance of teaching culture, most of the available textbooks do not. They focus on grammatical structures and vocabulary, but leave little room for exploring cultural differences between the purposes. Yet, I encountered the additional problem of limited time during fast paced courses at the college level that have an already packed curriculum. Common techniqu es used for teaching cultural concepts such as culture assimilators, culture clusters or culture capsules require a great deal of time. On the other hand, techniques, which prove very time effective, display often less successful results. Moreover, teachin g about culture should be combined with the language learning component. Although it seemed difficult to find a solution to this matter, my research shows there is one : reading fairy tales.


11 Fairy tales illustrate cultural differences well, because these n arratives reveal a great deal about their culture of origin. Furthermore, fairy tales constitute important qualities of an ideal reading text in SLA and consequently do not neglect the language component. Elaborating on this thesis, in Chapter 2 I will fir st take a look at how culture connects to language and why it is particularly important to teach about culture in SLA. Moreover, I will examine and evaluate different approaches to teaching culture. Chapter 3 then introduces and explains why reading consti tutes the most fruitful method of teaching about culture in SLA. Additionally, I evaluate possible reading materials regarding their suitability for my purposes. Next, I will elucidate in Chapter 4 what makes fairy tales an ideal reading text for teaching about culture in SLA before I give examples for classroom implementation in Chapter 5 Chapter 6 then concludes the findings of hesis of how to facilitate increas ing cultural knowledge and understa nding through reading fairy tales in the German s econd l anguage classroom.


12 CHAPTER 2 TEACHING CULTURE What Is Culture ? This thesis deals with teaching culture in the German second l anguage ( L2 ) classroom and how to do it best. Yet, before exploring how to do so in the first place, one should first clarify what culture means and how it relates to a second language learning environment. I will thus start off this chapter with giving definitions. In his book Teaching Culture: Strategies for Intercultural Comm unication H. Ned Cultural Goals for Achieving Intercultural Communicative Competence : Culture is a systemic, rather arbitrary, m ore or less coherent, group invented, and group shared creed from the past that defines the shape of ns the sense of worth of things ; it is modified by each generation and in response to adaptive pressures; it provides the code that tell s people how to behave predictably and acceptably, the cipher that allows them to derive meaning from language and other symbols, the map that supplies the behavioral opti ons for satisfying human needs. ( 23 ) Michael Wendt agrees and points out that culture is a complex matter. He proposes that: On the one hand, culture is seen as a distinguishable, homogeneous and understood as dynamically developing events which are consequently on ly se ized as momentary perceptions. (95) Even though Wendt and Seelye have slightly different views of what constitutes culture, both scholars agree that culture can be different for diverse people at various times. Moreover, language includes culture spec ific beliefs of how to process information and/ or how to interact in the world. However, language in this context is more than just


13 words; it relates to the abstract thinking process behind the words. Alvino Fantini explains this as follows: In linguistic terms, the influence of language on culture and world view is called language determinism and relativit y ; that is, the language we acquire influences the way we construct our model of the world (hence, determinism). And if this is so, other languages conv ey differing visions of the same wo rld (relativity). ( 11) Thus, language influences how we see our world. Moreover, if language instructs how to interact in this world, the connection between culture and second language acquisition reveals itself: the targ et language instructs how to interact in the target culture. Michael Byram and Peter Grundy thus define culture in second language acquisition (S LA ) pragmatically as a / the culture associated being learnt, for which I will supply reasons to teach about in SLA in the following (1). Why Teach Culture? Now that I have established a definition and understanding of culture, both in general as well as in the context of second language acquisition, I would like to further address why it is of such crucial import ance to integrate culture in an SL course. First, culture is variable across different groups of people and shapes their behavior. Second, language functions as a transmitter in communicating standards for this behavior. Fantini argues that language as sort of a road map to how one perceives, interprets and thinks about, and expresses communication system, but a pervasive medium that directly influences every aspect of way street: in order to understand a language, one also needs knowledge about the culture from which it derives. Yet,


14 Seelye 1997 states it has become evident that the study of language cannot be divorced from the study of cul ture, and vice versa. The wherewithal to function in another cultural system requires both prowess in the language and knowledge of the culture. (23) In order to successfully communicate in the L2, the learner therefore has to study both, language and cult ure. Riitta Jaatinen thinks in a similar way. She proposes that: One of the most important goals of foreign language education is to guide students to understand the importance of a language as an expressing and interpreting element in culture and society and realizing and utilizing this to study language as well as possible. (65) Mastering a language therefore includes more than vocabulary and grammar, it includes the study of culture. The foreign language teacher has to ensure the students are aware of t his fact. from one language to another. This has often proven by research to be a mist aken belief. As outlined above, the study of culture and the study of language cannot be separated from each other. As a result scholars of SL pedagogy widely agree that t language are ideas about culture, and ideas about culture concretely affect language teach culture in a foreign language class. Truly understanding the target language requires adequate cultural background knowledge of the target culture, besides knowledge about vocabulary and grammar. According to Bennett, being able to speak


15 culturally ap Danesi emphasizes that recent research on concepts in SLA is beginning to show that learning a new language is not a simple matter of learning how to articulate new sounds and how to us e new word making patterns to communicate something. It involves, rather, learning how linguistic, nonverbal, and conceptual systems interact. (21) Danesi also explains what happens when students do not learn about the influence of culture on language. Lik e Bennett he claims that when they attempt to speak or write spontaneously, without some form of guidance. The source of such anomaly is, typically, the unconscious tendency of students t o put together SL messa ges on the basis of NL concepts. (61) This proves the thesis outlined previously that language determines our relative understanding of the world. Thus, if one does not have cultural background knowledge and just transfers words, a l anguage well is often mistaken for ability to function in a speech community, but excommu nicates. That is, it includes only those who share the system; others are Hence, Danesi argues that communication across cultures requires a detailed knowledge of appropriate words, phrases, structures, and nonverbal cues that come together cohesively in a script like fashion to enable a speaker to carry out a successful interaction with another speaker. An infringement of any of the procedural details of this script might lead to a breakdown in communication, confrontati on, or social inappr opriateness. (13)


16 Not fulfilling these cultural prerequisites result in the speaker being excluded from communication. Byram and Grundy strongly agree with this. In their 2003 collection they onceptual metaphors for example does not transfer its meaning. Or, as Claire Kram sch highlights: in the United States, foreign language learners try to replicate in French or German such untransferrable concepts Anglo American in control opportunities thout even realizing how ideol ogically laden such phrases are. (43) Therefore, one cannot assume that simply translating a text from one language to the other captures all the culturally shaped concepts behind the written words, especially when it is a mor e abstract concept. Carol Morgan and Albane Cain explain that for learners, language refers not only to observable objects and actions, but to ideas and opinions that need to be deducted and imagined. If we translate this into a foreign language context, f or the learner of German the understanding of Kartoffelsalat is likely to be much more accessible than the abstract and elusive concept of Ordnung ist alles (6) Understanding therefore depends on the general knowledge of culturally shaped ideas and opinio ns. Virginia Samuda and Martin Bygate point out that comprehension always depends general knowledge influences culture and constitutes a vital part in the process of language learning. But general knowledge about a culture alone does not prove sufficient. In addition, students must know how to encode and transfer cultural concepts from one language to the other. Randal Holmes states:


17 . Thus, learning a language should be completed by a sustained and ethnographi cally (20) Holmes finds that this structured encounter can best be staged through the area of literacy (explained later in this chapter). The implication for second language teaching regarding the influenc e of language on culture and culture on language is that students must gain knowledge of the target culture. Moreover, the student has to learn how the target culture relates to the conceptual systems of the target language to be able to communicate and fu nction in this language. In fact, a great deal of understanding of culture is necessary if one wants to be able to express oneself in the target language on the same level as in the mother tongue. Aside from teaching effective use of the target language, teaching culture can also Teaching Culture: Strategies for Intercultural Communication Seelye claims that Conflict is present whenever two cultures come into contact. This is often because of a clash of values a cultural difference in the perception of the appropriate way to satisfy basic physical and psychological needs (57) Ulf Schuetze explains in this context that an intercultural speaker is faced with the difficult task of negotiating between his/her own conventions, beliefs, values and behaviours and those of the group with which s/he associates her/himself (215). In addition, one has to consider the relation between languages and between cultures expressed in particular words and linguistic forms. In o ther words, learning and speaking a second language means investigating many forms of social identities, ( 215)


18 Therefore, every time a language learner engages with a target language and culture, a potential confl ict is on the rise. In some cases, especially when physically entering the target country, such conflicts can even turn into a culture shock, H. Douglass Brown describes: Culture shock refers to phenomena ranging from mild irritability to deep psychologica l panic and crisis. Culture shock is associated with feelings in the learner of estrangement, anger, hostility, indecision, frustration, unhappiness, sadness, loneliness, homesickness, and even physical illness. The person undergoing culture shock vi ews the new world out of resentment, and alternates between being angry at others for not understanding him and being fill ed with self pity. (34) Decreasing culture shock demands a certain degree of cultural awareness, which in turn requires language lear ners to know about the cultural differences between their own culture and the target culture as these differences impact for example language and/or behavior. Yet, Brown admits that culture shock cannot be prevented at all extend (39). Instead, he emphasiz es the role and importance of the foreign language teacher to help students learn to deal with it as best as they can, which includes knowing about cultural differences (39). This knowledge enables learners to deal with frustration, anger and helplessness experienced in the target culture and can help to prevent extreme culture shock. Also, adequately focused, the learner can also benefit from a cultural conflict. Claire Kramsch argues that settling a cross cultural conflict is a process in which the langua ge learner acquires literacy in the L2 by: expressing personal meanings that may put in question those of the speech community. The language that is being learned can be used both to maintain traditional social practices, and to bring about change in the v ery practices that brough t about this learning. (233)


19 Cultural conflict can thus have not only negative outcome, but could also lead to something positive in the end. classroom Only cultural background knowledge enables the learner to fully understand develops the cultural awareness and understanding that is needed in order to function in tod How to Teach Culture ? T eaching culture is of great importance for successful second language acquisition Consequently, culture should not serve simply as a form of content carrier in the communicative approach as Holmes ar gues, but rather as a carrier of meaning (18). But what constitutes the most effective way to ensure that the teaching of culture is integral to the SL classroom? Specifically, how can this be done in a college classroom setting, a place outside of the com munity associated with the target language and culture? According to a study conducted by Natalia Yevgenyevna Collins, most students that was possible to learn cultural contexts of the language outside of the country where does not constitutes a realistic approach for every learner. It poses a great deal of difficulty to study the tar get language solely in the target country due to the requirement of immense commitment of time and resources. Therefore, one has to find a way to integrate the target culture in the language learning in the classroom Scholars dedicated to foreign l anguage pedagogy researched and discussed numerous approaches and techniques regarding this matter in the past. In


20 the following, I briefly describe various approaches and techniques of teaching culture in the foreign language classroom. These can be o rganized in to four categories: l ecture, experiential learning and simulation, language culture exploration through interaction, and r eading. Moreover, I will evaluate these methods regarding their suitability for a fast paced language course that wants to facilitate as many skills at the same time as possible. Lecture In straight lecture, the foreign language teacher traditionally presents examples of significant cultural differences between the native and the target culture. As Alice Omaggio Hadley criticizes, the in structor then points out these examples as f acts to his or her students in class (347). This approach has been criticized widely in the language pedagogy community. According to Joyce Merrill Valdes, a straight lecture does provide the students with inform ation but deprives them of the depth of understanding and enjoyment that is derived from class discussions, through the reactions of the students to what they have heard, to what the teacher has said, and to what their classmates have contributed in a cros s section of cultural attitudes (145). Consequently, in a straight lecture students just consume information, without having the chance to reflect about or react to what they have heard. Therefore, the directional presen tation of facts rather than a more similarly and emphasizes that representative usage of facts can lead to the ive of any given Landeskunde in a German context:


21 Cultural studies are bound at present by scientific objectivity and, at the same time there are remnants of an imperialistic for m a writing about other countries [which] tacitly presupposes that somewhere out there exists second culture that things are d his means giving the students information, without letting them reflect about it and Seelye warns that edged swords. They provoke interest but they reinforce the ethnocentricity of the lear Omaggio Hadley goes a step further and claims that by following this approach stereot ypes are established rather then diminished (347) She claims that while it might help to point out cultural differences, cultural understanding can not be facilitated through this approach. Rather hostility towards the target culture is the result and thu s the teacher must avoid this app roach at all costs. Yet, one can argue that the lecture depends on what the instructor makes of it. He or she might not use stereotypes at all. This approach is common as it is not very time consuming and it allows the inst ructor to determine exactly what should be known about the target culture regarding cultural differences. Besides straight lectures, this category contains two more formats. First, there is a technique called Culture Capsule. Seelye describes in his 1993 book that a Culture e generally prepared outside of class by a student but presented during class time in 5 or 10 minutes at the


22 it, a significant difference compared with a straight lec ture. Then there is the format of Culture Clusters, which derives from the Culture Capsules, and allows exemplifying more complex topics. The format was first invented caps ules that develop related topics, plus one 30 minute classroom simulation that In short: lectures about specific cultural differences offer a straightforward way for the instructor to illustrate cultural differences. However, at the same time lecture does not facilitate cultural understanding very well. Unlike an intercultural approach, and the native cultur as facts do not mirror real cultural differences and diversity. Instead of creating cultural awareness, ethnocentricity is reinforced this way and sometimes even hostility towards the target culture can arise. Thus, I agree with Omaggio Hadley, Seelye and Schuetze. difficult aspect of cultural studies is not learning facts, but learning new ways of see (Shumway, 252). Experiential Learning and Simulation In contrast to lectures, numerous exercises exist that aim to create awareness about the connections between language, culture and world view in an experiential way One way is by using simulations For instance t he book New Ways in Teaching Culture promotes an exercise in which the students simulate a cross cultural entry experience by visiting several imaginative host cultures, each of which has their own


23 language and culture (Fantini, 47 51) However, w hile this exercise might be beneficial in teaching cultural awareness, it neglects the language learning component. On the other hand, the book describes exercises that allow students to investigate components of the target culture through activi ties with native speakers outside of class (Fantini 53 56) Projects that include native speakers certainly are a good opportunity to practice the target language in combination with cultural exploration Yet such projects are generally very difficult to arrange. The few exercises that emphasize both the language as the cultural component often have another problem: the proficiency level of the learner (Fantini, 93 95) While the foreign language proficiency level varies, of the 52 exercises described in the book, 35 require at least a higher intermediate or even advanced command of the target language. In addition, they are often very time consuming. Seldom is there an exercise that can be completed in less than 60 minutes class time. Therefore only a f ew of these exercises are really suitable for a fast paced Beginner German L2 classroom as they are mostly either too time consuming, too difficult too arrange or target a higher proficiency level. Language Culture Exploration t hrough Interaction Susane E experience, students can more readily learn to identify and understand the nature of Similarly, Ulf Schuetze claims that one


24 of the aims of second language learning is to further the unders tanding of our own culture as well as that of other countries and regions of the world (Kramsch,1993,1998) and intercultural exchange is one means of achieving this goal (217) Hence, in his interactive classroom, intercultural exchange plays a major role. Schuetze promotes an online second language course (German/English) to create a virtual learning environment fostering cross cultural student student dialogues. In this e n a student to student interaction across cultures frees them from typical stereotypes. The assumptions about the members of the target culture. In addition, they practice their language skills. In summary this approach is one of the most lea rner centered. Schuetze explains that when giving examples or introducing new material the learner chooses what he or she thinks is relevant and representative of the topic discussed; in other words, the learner shows that culture is different. (226) The a pproach reveals cultural differences to the students while also addressing other skills, such as comprehension, writing and use of technology. However, major problems of this approach are its challenge to implement and its only partially predictable outcom


25 less. A number of them discussed the differences in great detail, others hardly touched on the topic. In addition, the language proficiency was not the same for the students in the US and Germany. Problems occurred for the weaker students, who lacked language fluency resulting in limited communication. Therefore, I would not promote this method as a stand alone approach to teaching culture in the German L2 classroom. Reading At this point I would like to draw the attention to one last approach to teaching culture in the L2 classroom, reading. Yet, reading includes more than one format. First one should distinguish between teaching culture through reading in the native language or the target language. For example, Seelye describes reading in the native language about cultural differences between the native and the target culture in c ulture assimilators a technique that provides the student with as many as seventy five or one hundred e pisodes cross cultural interaction that is usually a common occurrence in which an American and a host national interact, a situation one or both find puzzling or conflictful or th at they are likely to misinterpret (162 63) The student reads a text describing the situation in the native language and then e offers feedback. The explanations redirect the students in case of a false choice or illustrate why the answer was right. Scholars argue that culture assimilators have three advantages compared to other techniques of teaching culture. They are considered involve the student with a cultural problem; and they have been shown to be more e component is totally neglected and


26 one does not address language learning skills with this technique. Therefore this approach does not seem to be suitable for a SL course that wants to simultaneously address as many skills as possible. A different appro ach to learn about culture through reading is to work with texts in verbal text constructed in a language is tied to some aspect of the cultural conceptual fabric from whic previous chapter by emphasizing how reading in the target language will always communicate something about the target culture. However, according to Bennett teaching culture successfull y also contrast language is related to basic va lues, beliefs, though patterns, and social action in their language culture patterns to those of the new language pts and structures in the new language that do not exist in the native language because they provide keys to shifting experience along lines provided elucidate how culture inf luences language and information processing. While it is difficult to compare such concepts and structures in oral speech, it is less difficult to highlight them in a written text, especially when using cultural contextualization techniques as Danesi promo


27 more (58). Therefore, a cultural contrast approach in combination with written texts promises success in teaching about c ultural differences. William F. Marquardt. Seelye describes in his 1993 book that the approac h aims to 68). According to since creators of literature receive their basic motivation from a desire to explore the feelings of others and to communicate these feelings to thei However, Seelye illustrates how Marquardt emphasizes that the texts do have to be c ultural empathy transfers. Findings To summarize, there is a relationship between language and culture, and it is necessary to teach both in the SL classroom. Without knowledge about the culture component, the learner will not fully understand the target and cannot communicate functionally. While there is no longer any doubt about the importance of teaching culture anymore, the question remains how to teach culture in the German L2 classroom. As the previous examples of techni ques to teach culture show, there are advantages and disadvantages in the approaches. Some experiential learning or interactive intercultural exchange approaches promise successful results but require extensive class time, are


28 difficult to arrange in a cl assroom setting or cater towards higher language proficiency levels. Others, such as lectures, do not require much time, but are generally less interactive and less successful regarding the results However, the approach of teaching culture through readin g texts in the target language enables the teacher to foster various language skills on different levels as well as teaching culture. It is both effective and successful especially in a cultural contrast approach that highlights cultural differences Thus teaching culture through r eading appears to be a viable way to increase cultural awareness in the German L2 classroom In order to further investigate the topic, the next chapter will examine various aspects of reading in a second language ho w reading c an facilitate teaching cul ture in the German L2 classroom and possible reading materials in the SLA classroom.


29 CHAPTER 3 READING AND CULTURE IN S ECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION (SLA) What Reading M eans and the Role it P lays in SLA T oday There are numerous d efinitions on what reading is, none of which are the same. the reader the text and the interaction between reader and text loose definition, it is c ertainly correct. Elizabeth Bernhardt on the other hand does no t stress the interaction of reader and text so much but i nstead she emphasizes first and extracting or me aning focuses more on comprehension of a text as product than on reading as a skill or a process (5). Alastair Hugh Urquhart and Cyril Weir illustrate this difference when explain that the reading skill can be described roughly as a cognitive ability which a person is able to u se when interacting with written texts. Thus, unlike comprehension, which can be viewed as the product of reading a particular text, skills are seen as part of the generalized reading process. (88) Urquhart and Weir therefore distinguish between text compr ehension and the cognitive process of reading, even though both components are related. Theorists still argue which of the two components, product or process, are of greater importance in order to gain literacy. This is especially true when it comes to int erpretation of encoded information, which I think is very important to think of in a second language ( L2 ) context interpreting information encoded in that Aebersold and Field emphasize, but illustrates that reading is a complex process, no matter in what language. Yet, Urquhart an d Weir argue that one should consider


30 gard to the L2 situation, scholars emphasize the fact that reading involves processing language (16). As a result it is Having established what readi ng means, I will now consider the role reading plays in SLA today. First and foremost, reading is of the utmost importance for every language learner in order to achieve fluency. According to Stephen Krashen and his Reading Hypothesis, comprehensible inpu t in the form of reading is the major source of our literacy development, that is, our reading comprehension ability, much of our vocabulary competence, spelling ability, and writing style, and our ability to use complex grammatical constructions. (188) S ince reading is the main component of our ability to use language, it has to be a key element in language learning and teaching. vocabulary and structural awareness, develop auto maticity, enhance background Reading therefore is vital for communication via language as a whole. For this reason it is not surprising when Nancy Humbach t he most enduring of the language skills. Long after a student ceases to study the language, the ability to read Unfortunately, the connection of reading to the other languag e skills is often neglected. As Danesi points out, reading regularly functions simply as a vehicle for reading


31 comprehension exercises, grammar instructions and translation tasks (8). Even though innovative research shows that reading can be utilized in ma ny different and fruitful ways, Danesi believes that reading in the sense of a grammar translation approach where the primary goal of SL study is the reading of liter ary texts, as in university times are starting to change, even at university language programs. Meanwhile most informed language instructors agree on the fact that c omprehension cannot be viewed simply as the product of any reading activity. Instead, professionals have at least an idea that comprehension is connected to the individual co into practice (88). This reflects the findings from Chapter 1 as in order to truly under stand a text not written in the native language, one needs the necessary background knowledge, especially the cultural background knowledge. Lastly, one should not disregard the idea of texts as written language in contrast to spoken language. Reading in S LA therefore also serves to accentuate differences in language. For both, there are differences regarding written and spoken language. For foreign language and English may a Therefore reading seems to be a valuable tool in highlighting language differences.


32 In conclusion, the role of reading in SLA is to process and to interpret information given in a text and therefore to serv e as the main source of literacy development. Moreover, reading is a language specific activity. Unfortunately, reading often is equated with simply teaching grammar and vocabulary. While the fact that reading comprehension depends on individual and cultur al background knowledge is accepted, it is often not put into teaching practice. However, reading can be of great use for the purpose of highlighting differences in language and culture as the next subchapter will illustrate. How Can Reading F acilitate Tea ching Culture? Joyce Merrill Valdes argues that there is no need for any more justifications states It is simply accepted as a given that literature is a viable component of second language programs at the appropriate level and that one of the major functions of literature is to serve as a medium to transmit the culture of the people who speak the language in which it is written (137). This assumption builds up on the fact that literature in general expresses culture. For Elizabeth Bernhardt this is also true. She claims that literary texts always are manifestations of cultures. These manifestations inherently imply socially acquired frames of reference, value systems, the s ociopolitical history of the writer, as well as idiosyncratic knowledges and beliefs held between the writer and the implied reader. Therefore, each cultural context will provide a different reading of the text. (10) Based on this notion of a cultura l knowledge transfer through reading, literary texts in general allow students great insight into the target culture. Valdes comes to the same conclusion, based on all genres of literature that lend themselves to study culture in a SLA class. Moreover, she also thinks literature gives the students insight. The reading


33 leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of the target language and culture (145). T he task of the foreign language teacher in this process is to make clear the values that underlie the behavior of characters and points of view of the authors, not in order for the students to judge these values but to understand them and the literary works that contain them. Comparison to other cultures are not idle, however, as they often result in r existed before (139). P ointing out cultural differences in literary texts helps to create greater cultural awareness. The scholars Carol Morgan and Albane Cain argue likewise It woul d seem then that t he dialogic process of learning a foreign language and culture, where differences are juxtaposed, has the potential to encourage pupils to a deeper and higher level of thought, to encourage language, and to reveal language as personally produced occurrence rather than a reified abstraction (25) Just as Bernhardt and Valdes suggest, Morgan and Cain also believe that reading can help to reach a deeper cultural awareness and understanding of th e target language. Aebersold and Field would probably agree with his idea. Nevertheless, the scholars argue that not only reading texts reflect culture; culture also reflects modes of reading. According to them, International students who come to study in the United States are often surprised at the lengthy reading assignments they receive in a history or literature class; American students abroad are often amazed at the level of detail that is expected from them in university settings. In some cultures com prehension means the ability to explain the grammar and structure of a page of text; in others it means the ability to summarize the thesis and argument of a whole book in a few sentences. These cultural beliefs and attitudes about reading are also t ransferred to the L2/FL reading process. (31) Therefore, as Aebersold and Field point out, the many factors that influence reading in an L2/FL also help to teach about cultural differences (23 24). For instance, attitudes toward text and the purpose of r eading


34 types of reading skills and strategies used in the L1 types of reading skills and strategies used or appropriate in the L2/FL beliefs about the reading process (use of inference, memorization, nature of comprehension) knowledge of text types in the L1 (formal schemata) background knowledge (content schemata) While all of these factors influence reading, background knowledge is of particular interest. When it comes to teaching culture, background knowledge influences the reading process and the read ing product, namely reading comprehension. Christiane Fcke observe s that students in discussions about literary texts often react quite differently (32). This observation underlines her study that focuse s on the mental processes of foreign language learn ers and the forms of intercultural understanding of foreign language literature. The study reveals that autobiographical contexts and the students culture have a tremendous impact on their mental processes and understanding of literary texts (39). Student s establish relationships between their own construction of reality and the aspects in the texts that corresponded with them. Just as their personal construct ions of thoughts and ideas vary the connections to the te xt vary As a result the understanding o f text differs. Riitta Jaatinen also argues that the autobiographical component of background knowledge is of special importance. She thinks that in understanding the content of a text written in a foreign language the question is not merely of the readin her autobiographical knowledge of the whole. (69) round


35 influences the way they approach a text. Second, personal experiences have an impact on the way the readers interact with the text and how they interpret the information received through it. In this context Claire Kramsch argues that to understand t exts, readers draw on prior experience and knowledge. Indeed, much research on reading in a second language has shown the crucial effect on background knowledge on the reading ability of foreign language learners . background knowledge makes it possible to anticipate incoming information, relate it to previous knowledge and thus make global sense of the text as it unfolds (124) Based upon this assumption, it is not surprising to find students who lack this kind of purpose of the text, or the intentions, goals, and plans of the characters in a fictional oal, it is essential to teach students also about the reading process, different reading strategies and text genres. In sum, I outlined above how reading can facilitate learning about culture. I hope to have shown that reading is an excellent way of teachi ng culture, because literary texts are cultural manifestations and provide original insights into the target culture, which lead to greater understanding and appreciation of the target language and culture Additionally, reading facilitates teaching about culture, because cultural understanding is influenced by knowledge about the reading process itself. Thus, reading fosters intercultural understanding, especially through comparison of two cultural systems. The only question left to answer is what reading materials one should use to maximize the results of this process. Therefore, I will discuss and evaluate various reading materials i n the following regarding their suitability and effectiveness for teaching culture in the German L2 classroom


36 Possib le Reading Materials in the L2 C lassroom As mentioned in the preceding chapter, almost all texts lend themselves to teach culture in the SL classroom. However, authentic material as genuine product of the target culture seems to be the best choice In particular, when using an authentic text for the same social purpose as in the language community in which it was produced as Claire Kramsch argues (177). Yet, these materials pose a possible challenge namely that authentic texts are above the pr ofic iency level of the learners, and For this reason it is not surprising that foreign language educators frequently do not use authentic texts for beginn ing and intermediate learners Nancy Humbach explains this as the problem inherent in the selection of authentic materials According to her, the level of difficulty of authentic texts is frequently beyond the skill of the student and thus the teacher shy away from material not adapted for the classroom (T38). The use of authentic material in the SL classroom therefore seems to be a vicious circle. On the one hand, especially the beginning and interm ediate students need to learn about the target culture to develop literacy in the target language. On the other hand, educators have debated about authentic texts posing a problem for an early proficiency level. Urquhart and Weir also point in t he directi on of the linguistic difficulty level of selected texts in the L2 classroom For them, any selected text should not contain a large amount of language that is too difficult for most of the class because i f too difficult, then either the pace of the lesson will be slow, and boredom will set in, or the pace will be too fast, and the learner will not understand enoug h, and frustration will result. (206)


37 However, scholars also point out that level of difficulty should still be challenging They refer to educational psychology the teacher should set tasks that are at a level just beyond that at which the learners are currently capable of functioning, and teach princip les that will enable them to make the next step unassisted. Bruner and others have Reading material in the foreign language classroom should be relevant to of difficulty only slightly above the reading ability of the student (T38) This means, if the topic of the text interests the students and the difficulty level is adequate, level we can underst and why teachers often do not use authentic texts at early levels. While it is important to keep in mind the language proficiency level regarding the choice of reading material, other factors also determine the selection of reading materials in the SL clas sroom. Urquhart and Weir claim that using a wide range of materials and selecting texts that deal with the same topic or theme, will result in consolidation and extension of language and language use in a way that serves the general learner (207). In addi tion, In sum, adequate texts therefore should be judged according to their intended of the text, and familiarity with and relevance of the topic,


38 especially in regards of background knowledge and future relevance for the students Even when we take into account these factors in our selection of texts, the question re mains, how to evaluate texts in regard to teaching about culture. The next sections therefore examine different possible reading materials and evaluate them for classroom use. Traditionally in foreign language teaching distinguishes between fictional and non fictional reading. For my theoretical considerations, just as for Aebersold and Field the technical differences between fiction and nonfiction are not central We can be content with the accepted distinction that nonfiction centers on the present ation of information. Fiction, on the other hand, centers on telling a story, a sequence of imagined events involving (usually) human characters whose emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual experiences in life create empathy or response. (47) Ho wever, the distinction between fictional and nonfictional texts does not seem to be sufficient for the purpose of this thesis. Mainly due to lack of language proficiency, the major sources of reading texts in SLA remain textbooks, which contain both sorts of texts, fictional and non fictional. Therefore I grouped texts commonly used in the SL classroom into three categories: textbooks, nonfictional texts, and fictional texts. Textbooks Textbooks constitute the main source of reading materials for second la nguage learners, and second language pedagogy therefore discusses their use extensively. Criticism focuses particularly on reading. As Urquhart and Weir argue some years ago one could find L2 textbook passages o se passages le


39 (257) Appearing somewhat artificial these texts are thus the exact opposite of the authentic material desired for teaching culture. Kramsch exemplifies this in a case where a German restaurant menu fu nctions to practice adjective endings. According to her, the restaurant management had not intended the menu for such activities, and native customers would not use it for this purpose either when they visit the restaurant. Therefore, such textbook passage s do not fulfill the social purpose they were created for in the first place and therefore do not function as authentic literary texts and cultural artifacts. As a result they do not allow Besides introducing new grammar, (195) which also reflects my own experience with several German textbooks. As Urquhart and Weir remark, in combination with new vocabulary, many reading textbooks contain practice in such cognitive activities as drawing conclusions, making inferences, and evaluating texts in terms of truth, persuasiveness or beauty (18). However, it is quite di fficult to find a textbook that includes any explicit material on decoding or processing information (18). This means that textbooks therefore focus solely on the reading product, not on the reading process, which also constitutes a crucial component of un derstanding a text and learning about the target culture. Finally, one experiences the problem of textbooks and their lack of appreciation of plurality and diversity within the target culture. Morgan and Cain explain that a recent German and English foreign language textbooks reveals the


40 teaching about culture and the fostering about cross cultural understanding, this is not desirable. Yet, as I resea rched on this topic myself, I found out that problem of prevailing stereotypes also applies to the textbooks Neue Horizonte and Treffpunkt Deutsch the most common used German L2 textbooks at the university level. In conclusion, textbooks likely satisfy t he language proficiency level of the target audience, assist teaching grammar and introduce new vocabulary. However, they contain mainly artificial texts, lack information about processing and decoding information and do not contribute towards drawing a di verse picture of the target culture. Consequently, for the purpose of teaching about culture the instructor should prefer other choices. Non Fictional Reading At this point, I would like to emphasize once more the understanding of non fiction I have previo usly established, namely that non fiction centers on informational texts, Field, 47). Compared with fictional texts, teacher often prefer these types of reading materials fo fictional texts can be used for every proficiency intermediate a level learners (100). Based on my own experience I agree, because beginners struggle with texts that contain too many unknown vocabulary items. Nevertheless, a carefully chosen article can work, especially for teaching culture. As George H. Hughes points out Many aspects of culture that are not usually found in a textbo ok are present in the newspaper. Good cultural insights can readily be found in headlines, advertisements, editorials, sports pages, comics, even t he


41 weather report. The humor found on the comic page is especially revealing (167 168) Students as well as instructors seem to like non fictional texts. Day and Bramford argue that non almost short, which means that readers can quickly get a sense of accomplishment from kly of fictional texts apparently offer easy access and understanding. However, Walter Grauberg emphasizes in his book that not all students share this nd that only 34% and 26% respectively found newspapers and magazines easy, whereas fiction and textbooks were considered easy by 65% and 63% of the students. These figures one has to be careful in drawing conclusions from only one study. Nevertheless, one should not ignore the fact that for instance only about one quarter of the subjects found magazine articles easy to read. In sum, I propose non fictional texts to be a good source for teaching culture, because the authentic material can be used for any proficiency level, is cheap and easy available. However, the majority of students prefer other reading materials, especially fictional texts. Fictional Reading Aebersold and F curricula for many years, fading in and out of popularity in response to new theories and


42 classroom, because a ccording to Aebersold and Field, fictional texts can serve two important functions in the L2/FL classroom: to teach language and to introduce or reinforce human (social, cultural, political, emotional, economic, ect.) themes and issues in the 47). Deriving from these functions, the scholars provide a list of reasons to use literary texts in SLA (157 158): To promote cultural understanding To improve language proficiency To give students experience with various text types To provide lively, enj oyable, high interest readings To personalize the classroom by focusing on human experiences and needs To provide an opportunity for reflection and personal growth All these reasons make fictional reading a good text source in the SL classroom. Yet, Aeber sold and Field difficult language, complex cultural issues, and the subtle conventions of various genres of fiction may leave students more frustrated than p roblematic. Nevertheless, Stephen Krashen proposes that fictional reading can address this problem. He even argues that fictional reading helps to improve the language proficiency. For him, een conversational an (192). Krashen illustrates that the convers ation, description, narration). Th is v 195). Th erefore light fiction appears to be the ideal re ading material for an advanced beginner or l ow intermediate course. As a next step, I will briefly discuss various kinds of fiction


43 and examine them regarding their usefulness for teaching culture in the Germ an L2 classroom. First, I would like to draw attention to poetry. Valdes reports that many scholars believe the teaching of poetry should be avoided with nonnative speakers. She explains images are elusive, agrees to these objections, she suggests that poetry still constitutes a formidable teaching material regarding culture comparison (144). However, teach ing poetry is challenging. The teacher cannot assume that the students will understand poems teaching of culture therefore one should prefer other genres, for instance novels or short stories. As Valdes points out The opportunity a novel gives to follow the effects of specific cultural patterns and mores through the lives of the characters over a period of time is invaluable in learning a second culture (144) However, Vales also sees advantages in a short story which is valuable for almost opposite reasons from the novel: It generally presents a few characters over a short period of time in a situation that encapsulates a cultural attitude, with probably minor cultura l values also to be uncovered and discussed (145) Compared with a novel, fewer characters in a more detailed situation certainly make text analysis and comprehension easier for students. For this reason, I argue that short stories allow more room to focus on reading processes than just on reading comprehension compared with novels. At the same time though, students find an equal opportunity to learn about another culture.


44 In conclusion, one may say that fictional texts offer an excellent source of reading material in foreign language learning. Reading fiction promotes cultural understanding, improves language proficiency allows room for reflection. L ight fiction in particular appears to be an ideal re ading material for an advanced b eginner or l ow intermedi ate course While novels and short stories likewise lend themselves to learn about culture, short stories are easier to analyze for the students and therefore allow the teacher and the students to spend more time on learning about reading processes than ju st on reading comprehension. Results In this chapter I clarified the purpose and role of reading in SLA, namely, to process and to interpret information given in a text and therefore to serve as the main source of literacy development. Moreover, I demonstr ated that reading can be of great use for the purpose of highlighting differences in language and culture. Texts are cultural manifestations and give original insight into the target culture. Through reading and engaging with authentic texts, learners gain greater understanding and appreciation of the target language and culture Moreover, reading also facilitates teaching about knowledge about the reading process itself influences cultural understanding As a result, reading fosters intercultural understanding, especially by comparing two culture systems. Next, I explored the area of potential reading materials in the SL classroom. I concluded that textbooks likely satisfy the language proficiency level of the target audience a major concern in the selection of reading materials. Moreover, textbooks assist in teaching grammar and introducing new vocabulary. However, textbooks contain mainly artificial texts, do not pay attention to processing and decoding


45 information and do n ot contribute in drawing a diverse picture of the target culture. For the purpose of teaching about culture they are thus not the best choice. Non fictional texts on the other hand appear to be a good source for teaching culture. The authentic material ca n be used for any proficiency level. In addition, especially newspaper and magazine articles are generally cheap and easy available. However, the majority of students in a study conducted by Grauberg seem to prefer other reading materials, especially ficti onal texts. As outlined above, fictional texts offer an excellent source of reading material in foreign language learning. Reading fiction promotes cultural understanding, improves language proficiency allows room for reflection. L ight fiction in particula r appears to be an ideal re ading material for an advanced beginner or l ow intermediate course While novels and short stories likewise lend themselves to learn about culture, short stories are easier to analyze for the students and therefore allow the teac her and the students to spend more time on learning about reading processes than just on reading comprehension. Taking all this into consideration, I agree with Seelye who concludes that ) and Aebersold (158). For the particular purpose of teaching culture in a Beginner and/ or Low Intermediate level language course though, I argue that light fi ction is the best material. While researching for this project, I came across a variety of fictional reading suggestions in light literature. However, one genre seems to be especially useful regarding the purpose of teaching culture through reading and wil l be discussed in the following chapter: fairy tales. In order to provide evidence for my thesis, I will first


46 explain what fairy tales are, and what makes them such an excellent type of reading material for second language learners. Next, I will demonstra te how they can be perfectly utilized for teaching about culture and create cultural awareness, especially in the German L2 classroom.


47 CHAPTER 4 TEACHING CULTURE THROUGH READING F AIRY TALES IN THE GERMAN SECOND LANGUAGE ( L2 ) CLASSROOM The Fairy Tale as Folk Narrative Before exploring what makes fairy tales an excellent source for teaching culture in the German L2 classroom, one should take a quick look at what defines a fairy tale. known, most understood literally. Fairy tales are of an oral origin as Swa nn Jones mentions (1). Eric Taylor likewise characterizes the fairy tale a s a certain type of traditional story that has These traditional stories are commonly understood as folk narratives, and, as Swann Jones explai ns, consist of three major forms: myth, legend, and folktale (8). While myth and legend concentrate on immortal or ordinary people as protagonists to reveal the desires and The fairy tale as a subcategory of the folktale also does likewise. However, whereas folktales depict life in realistic terms fairy tales depict magical or marvelous events or phenomena as a valid part of human experience. Th e very name of the genre is drawn from this essential characteristic: they are fairy tales because they depict the wondrous magic of the fairy realm. (9) Despite their name, fairy tales do not always include fairies, nor do the tales deal exclusively with magic realms. After all, fairy tales as part of the folktale family still portray ordinary people and human nature. In particular, they portray individuals facing


48 Additionally, the fantastic element emerges from the conscious and unconscious desire s and fears of society (16). As I will demonstrate later in this chapter, exactly this metaphoric dramatization of everyday life events make fairy tales excellent material to teach about cultural differences. However, the problems the protagonists have to overcome in the fairy tale are far from metaphoric. Poverty, jealousy or separations themes often found in fairy tales are very serious and realistic subject matter. Yet, the major differences between fairy tales and reality are the problem solving str ategies and of course the happy ending. that the happy ending is such a basic a nd important aspect of the genre, that it constitutes a definitional feature of the fairy tale (17). In sum, a fairy tale is a story in which an ordinary protagonist has to overcome a realistic problem with unique and often magical problem solving strategi es in order to live happily ever after. For the remainder of the chapter, I will investigate the usefulness of fairy tales in general as reading and teaching material in the German L2 classroom, before ultimately turning to the connection of fairy tales an d culture at the end of the chapter. The Fairy Tale as Reading Text in Second Language Acquisition Eric Taylor, a sc holar committed to research on t eaching English as a second language, focused on research on folktales in SLA. His book Using Folktales illu strates very well how folk and fairy tales provide an excellent source for teaching English as a


49 s econd l anguage. However, his arguments are valid for the German L2 classroom as well. Taylor argues that folk and fairy tales have many special characterist ics that make them exceptionally good for language teaching. Their frequent repetitions make them excellent for reinforcing new vocabulary and grammar. Many have natural rhythmic qualities that are useful for working on stress, rhythm, and intonation in pr onunciation. And the cultural elements of folktales help both bridge common ground between cultures and bring out cultural differences developing cultural awareness that is essential if we are to learn to think in another language and unde rstand the peop le who speak it. (3) According to these findings, fairy tales appear to be a particularly productive teaching material in SLA and an ideal reading text for teaching about culture and raising cultural awareness. Nonetheless, to provide ample evidence of the suitability of fairy tales as reading materials in SLA, one should quickly recall the main characteristics of an ideal L2 reading text. According to my findings in C hapter 2, an ideal reading text is an authentic text written for native speakers that fulf ills the same social purpose in target culture a short fictional text that offers light, enjoyable reading a text that centers on a topic of interest for the reader, prefer ably a topic the reader is already familiar with and that deals with human experiences and needs a text that provides an opportunity for reflection and personal growth a text that includes more detailed situations to make textual analysis easier for the r eader a text that is cheap and easily available a difficulty level that is adequate for the learners a text that lends itself to various tea ching approaches and activity formats, which allow different reading strategies for different reading purposes In the following, I show how the fairy tale fulfills all these criteria.


50 First, let me begin with the fairy tale as authentic text in the sense I previously established, since it was written for native speakers in the target language in the target n classroom, the teacher can read fairy tales with the students for similar purposes, which makes the traditional fairy tale authentic in language and use. Moreover, it enables the reader to gain insight into and facilitate learning about the target cultur e as I will further outline later in this chapter. In addition, fairy tales were created for children and young adults. The original target group thus equals the age group of most SL learners. Secondly, the fairy tale is a short fictional text that offers light, enjoyable reading. stories, such as fairy tales in SLA. They state that The major assets of these books are relatively easy language, attractive layout, big print, a nd appealing illustrations. Equally important is their length: They are usually short enough to be finished in 15 minutes or so. Although language can be colloquial, the illustrations help comprehension. (98) Attractive layout, easy language and the short length make fairy tales definitely a light, enjoyable reading experience, while the topics appeal very much to children and young adults. Swann Jones further explains that most of the psychological themes underlying fairy tales involve the concerns of youn g people The stories frequently depict the feelings or attitudes of the protagonists (with whom the audiences are presumably identifying) toward parents, siblings, and prospective mates. (19) This means that tales center on topics that the student re aders are familiar with and that are of personal importance and interest to them.


51 Moreover, the human needs or problems reworked in fairy tales are often identical with the needs and problems of the readers. For instance, rivalries among siblings or dispu tes with guardians are themes that most children and young adults have experienced themselves at one point or another. Therefore, students easily relate to the protagonists and the main problem of the narrative, which enables the learners to compare and co response to encountered difficulties. Thus, the tales also lend themselves for providing an opportunity for reflection and personal growth. Furthermore, fairy tales fulfill the criterion o f displaying mainly detailed situations in the narrative. Because fairy tales consist of short narratives, the reader is able to concentrate on very particular situations or move from one particular situation in the narrative to the next. Fairy tales often summarize action or time in between situations in just a sentence, and then focus on another detailed situation. For example, in the fairy Sleeping Beauty almost 100 years are summarized in two sentences. Encountering short, focused depictions in a narrative rather long, exhaustive texts makes reading more attractive and text analysis more comprehensible, especially for beginning readers in a second language. Fairy tales also meet the requirements of ideal reading texts by being cheap and easily ava ilable, especially through free online resources, such as the Projekt Gutenberg DE or Google books SLA, and in order to do so, an adequate difficulty level of reading materi al plays a typical in folk narratives present relatively easy access to reading and comprehension, I


52 will next evaluate fairy tales for a Beginner or Intermediate level German course in terms of difficulty level. First and foremost, fairy tales usually build on a limited, concrete vocabulary in order to express mainly concrete ideas. Taylor reveals that in each of these narratives one can trace e veryday life items or at ( 13). argues that illustration s provide support and context for the text. However, he takes this argument further and claims illustrations can serve as an aid when it comes to teaching new vocabulary. Therefore, the scholar emphasizes fairy tales general vocabulary For example, fairy tales often contain refrains, which help the listeners to follo w the story line more easily. These refrains are also especially useful in second language learning, according to Taylor: The repetitions help language learners in several ways. Repetition is important in helping new vocabulary stick in the mind. Repetitio n also gives students many examples of a particula r grammatical form and context. (10) As repetition can help students remember vocabulary and grammatical forms, Taylor correctly claims that such repetition fosters fluency as well by helping students to b ecome more automatic in their recognition and use of language. Furthermore, Taylor highlights that fairy tales Sentences tend to be short. Simple past and present tenses are common. Subordinate ( 13) Thus, the simple grammar style serves as an aid in


53 mak ing the text easy to understand particularly for beginning students with only limited knowledge of tenses and complex sentence structures. Therefore, fairy tales indeed present a very balanced dif ficulty level in terms of grammar and, as outlined before in terms of vocabulary. Consequently, fairy tales fulfill this requirement of an ideal reading text in SL A as well, in particular for a beginner or i ntermediate level course. Last but not least, I w ould like to address fairy tales in the context of diverse on content based instruction and with communicative approaches that focus on teaching language while commun icatin paced beginner and i ntermediate German courses cannot afford to address only selected skills. Instead, the goals are to integrate and combine as many skills, content and context as possible. While not all narrative forms are equa lly suitable to address all four skills through various approaches in the German L2 classroom, fairy tales offer ample opportunity to practice listening, speaking, reading and writing. Naturally, the narratives can address the skills separately, but fairy Taylor claims (17). Moreover, the tales serve not only as carrier of content, but also of meaning. cognitiv and evaluate (3). While developing cognitive and academic skills is desirable on all grade levels, in a university setting this feature of fairy tales is especially important. Students are expected to move quickly from a beginner language level to an advanced language level, which requires not only higher language proficiency, but also more


54 sophisticated cognitive skills. Moreover, fairy tales are of great use particularly in a multilevel classroom, for instance in an Intermediate course where one often finds a broad range of language proficiency among individual students. There fairy tales offer a great variety of potential classroom activities to address a diverse student body. In sum, one finds fairy tales to be exceptional reading texts and teaching materials in SLA. Fairy tales fulfill all criteria regarding an ideal reading text, as being authentic, short fictional texts for enjoyable, light reading. Moreover, fairy tales p rovide topics of personal interest that permit reflection, personal growth, and most important improve vocabulary and grammatical structures. Additionally, one can integrate fairy tales in any content and communicative approach and address all four language skills, while at the same time also fostering cogni tive and academic skills. In a beginner or i ntermediate German course, and compared to other authentic reading material, fairy tales constitute superior. However, fairy tales also connect in particular ways to the target culture, which I will subsequently explore. The Fairy Tale and Teaching about Culture in SLA In the following I draw on the findings of scholars regarding l iterary and psychological interpretations of fairy tales, which I then relate to the results to Seelye central goals in teaching about culture to further elaborate on my thesis that fairy tales represent successful mediators of cultural understanding in the German L2 classroom,. fairy tales as literary texts in the foreign language classroom First, I demonstrate why fairy tales are a literary genre best suited to teaching about culture. Jack Zipes, a scholar devoted to researching on fairy tales, argues that in


55 narratives, such as fairy tales, unconsciously established these so called civilized standards by communicating and reinforcing socially accepted and desired ways of behavior in children. In this context, Swann Jones remarks: In addition to offering psychological instructi on, fairy tales frequently depict and inculcate social values. They promote marriage and the paternal family structure as the dominant cultural institutions. They depict roles and behavior patterns considered socially appropriate for each gender and for ea ch age group. They encourage industry and moral virtue (such as the following the golden rule) as routes to securing material and financial success. (20) Taylor likewise suggests that the moral or ethical quality embedded in numerous folktales puts forth s pecific role expectations and underlying cultural patterns of behavior, especially as the characters in the narratives clearly demonst rate particular moral qualities (11). Consequently, fairy tales serve to teach about values in many societies ( 11). Indee d, the key features of fairy tales, namely implied role expectations and underlying cultural patterns, portray culturally embedded values exceptionally well. Through which the reader can gain valuable cultural insight and create further cultural awareness. For instance, Seelye demands that teaching about a specific culture should always include recognizing role expectations and other social skills variables such as me mbers, as these factors affect the way people speak and behave (xiii). Learning and knowing about factors influential to cultural specific language and behavior are essential in the L2 classroom and lead to cultural specific background knowledge and great er cultural awareness, the two main goals of teaching about culture outlined chapter one.


56 Additionally, Taylor proposes that understanding that people generally act the way they do because they are using options their society allows for satisfying basic p hysical and psychological needs, and that cultural patterns are interrelated, are also central aspects of teaching about culture (xiii). According to him, fairy tales highlight these aspects in a unique way as despite their outwardly simple appearance, fol ktales address themes and issues that are profound and significant for all ages. Folktales raise important social questions: What is our duty toward the elderly? Toward the poor? Toward our parents? They are filled with hopes and dreams and sorrows a nd pains that all of us share. (15) Hence, fairy tales always represent the specific belief system and taste of the audience for which they have been created and their literary analysis provide useful information regarding role expectations and underlying cultural patterns of behavior. Moreover, fairy tales reveal important physical and psychological needs as well as significant social questions for a specific culture, which helps tremendously in detecting encoded meaning in the texts and creating cultural knowledge necessary in order to achieve fluency and avoid misinterpretations in the second language. Reading and analyzing fairy tales enables students in the L2 classroom to draw conclusions about a particular desired behavior. As Swann Jones emphasizes, Zipes argues from a sociohistorical perspective and teaching the target culture in SLA (135). Seeley agrees and therefore explicitly promotes analyzing the tales in terms of national origin in the foreign language classroom. He believes that reading and analyzing folk narratives allows to of the important cultural themes that underlie a 19) which consequently enables


57 the learners to draw conclusions on the target culture, especially following a comparative approach Swann Jones points out fairy tales, or vers ions of fairy tales, that are popular in one ethnic community or nation may be differentiated from those popular in another community or nation. These distinctions are reflected not only in the language and stylistic preferences, but also in the selection of motifs used to tell the stories as well as the social customs and cultural perspectives reflected. (28) Therefore, fairy tales highlight differences between the native and the target culture. Taylor social, moral, and relational theme s that lie behind the stories tend to rise above local cultures (16) W hile fairy tales present commonalities across cultures or convey similar information they also display a great deal of cultural differences. For example, specific cultures have very d ifferent ways of arranging material, or even of deciding what materials to include (9). Yet, differences do not and contrast tales in the L2 classroom helps students to become aware of patterns and structures in the target language, that might not exist in their native language. Consequently, the differences help students to discover and understand how culture influences language. At the same time though, Taylor emphasizes that when it comes to telling stories, folk narratives, such as fairy tales, always appear to have certain elements in common for instance a time ordered structure. The stories all do the same thing: tell about ev ents in the order they happened. Since folkta les use a structure that is familiar to everyone, they are more readily understandable than many other types of literature. (9) This means, although some elements in folktales are culturally distinctive, some are common to all cultures that produce fairy tales, and thus easier to understand for the student reader, a quality that makes fairy tales again very attractive as teaching material


58 in SLA. The teacher can utilize specific elements to highlight cultural differences in a comparative approach, while th e structure of the narrative itself does not pose another challenge for the students. Taylor explains: Some common elements in folktales help to build bridges between cultures, helping us to relate to speakers of other languages. Other elements in folktal es draw attention to our differences, showing us things we need to learn to understand the thoughts behin d the language we are learning. (16) Thus, exposing language learners to fairy tales not only assists l in direct language ll important gaps in nonnative background knowledge and F or example, students might not understand the German idiom Pech haben, which tar instead of gold, students can understand the everyday conceptual metaphor. This aim in teaching about culture that effective communication requires discovering the culturally conditioned images that are evoked in the minds of people when they think, act, and react to the world around them (xiii). As Seeley illustrates, folklore which includ es the fairy tale is superior in literary writing when it comes to mirroring the attitudes of large groups, especially regarding likes and dislikes (19). However, fairy tales do not only answer questions, such as what are typical foods or how does on durability of folktales, proverbs, slurs, and jests is an indication of the validity they have are still valid resources for cultural patters and attitudes.


5 9 In addition, Seelye believes that the approach of teaching culture through reading folk narratives has another advantage compared with other ways of teaching culture, as it is especially suitable f or teachers. In his book Teaching Culture Seelye refers to the works of Genelle Morain and J. Dale Miller, who claim that folklore offers a logical bridge to service language teachers trained in literary analysis who are interested in getting closer to an anthropological understanding of culture but who are not equipped by disposition or background to deal with the empirical orientations of the social scientist. (18 19) Although the studies of Morain and Miller concentrate on examples from French folklore narratives, their findings are intriguing and applicable to the German L2 classroom, too. The German L2 teacher, as any other foreign language instructor, is no expert in teaching about cultures per se however his or her training in literary analysis help s to read fairy tales as cultural artifacts and he or she can help the students discover the values and perspectives underlying the narrative. Nonetheless, fairy tales appear to be not only beneficial to instructors when teaching about culture, but also to students in learning about culture. Seeley emphasized in his book Teaching Culture that t eaching about culture should first and foremost c ultivat e c uriosity about another culture and empathy toward its members (xiii). As Taylor points out in his research, topics familiar to learners and of personal importance and interest. Based on this notion of familiarity and b eing able to identify with the protagonists of the story, the students easily cultivate empathy for the members of the target culture through reading fairy tales.


60 Lastly, Seelye believes teaching about culture has to include the ability to evaluate the str ength of a generaliz ation about the target culture from textual evidence, and to locate and organize information about the target culture (xiii). In contrast to lectures, which often reinforce stereotypes, reading and analyzing fairy tales enables the stud ents to discover on their own which culturally embedded values lend themselves to generalization and which do not. In order to further investigate this matter, I will elucidate in the subsequent part of this chapter the specifics of German fairy tales. Tea ching Culture through Reading Fairy Tales : The German Case When thinking German fairy tales, the fairy tales collected by the brothers Grimm most likely come to mind, although Zipes highlights in his book The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forests to the M odern W orld that Germany claims a great number of contemporary fairy tale authors, such as Hans Joachim Gelberg, Janosch, or Max von der Grn, to name just a few (241 46). As I mentioned earlier in this chapter, fairy tales always represent the specific b elief system and taste of the audience for which they have been created. Therefore, the classical German fairy tales represents a belief system specific to Germany and shaped through the brothers Grimm about 200 years ago, while a more contemporary narrati ve by Janosch embeds cultural themes inherent in present aspect when evaluat ing the strength of a generaliz ation about German culture drawn from literary analysis of a particular fairy tale. With this in mind, I will take a closer look at the Grimm fairy tales and what can be concluded from them about German culture. First, these tales existed befor e the


61 which was based on plebeian values of honesty, courage, fidelity, purit Zipes emphasizes in his book Breaking the M agic S pell : R adical Theories of Folk and Fairy T ales (91). Therefore the Grim primarily produce good German citizens, as Lutz Rhrich argues (14). For the purpose of teaching about culture in the German L2 classroom, these lend themselves to culture, but also to the image of the model citizen in current Germany, which is not the same than 200 years ago. Yet, the tales are also a warning and a reminder for children that the world is full of dangers. Rhrich identifies reoccurring themes, such a Nevertheless, fairy tales assure children is that one can survive in this terrible world if one lives up to the desired moral standards of Christian communicate that ignoring the moral values and making the wrong choices ultimately in the world based on a certain set of Chris tian moral values. As religious beliefs are an important aspect of teaching about the target culture, literary analysis and interpretations of Grimm fairy tales definitely allow students to draw conclusions about


62 German culture in this context. However, th e fact that present day Germany is home to many other religious groups should not be neglected when drawing generalizations about German culture and religious beliefs. Despite the communication of Christian values and belie f s the Grimm fairy tales often s how gruesome scenes of violent child abuse, serial or ritual killings, hunger and deprivation. It is therefore not totally unforeseen when Zipes reveals in his book The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forests to the Modern W orld that after World War II the Grimm fairy tales served to a certain degree (231). c lassroom discussion. Would the learners more than 60 years after the end of the war underscores that fairy tales always connect culture and world view. The idea of fairy tale s being responsible for the cruelties of the Germans during WWII itself is an opinion shaped by culture at a particular historical moment. Role expectations constitute another example of opinions in fairy tales that are shaped by culture. As Swann Jones ex plains, Ruth B. Bottigheimer was one of the first male characters, evil femal e characters, or the narrator, thus reinforcing a cultural belief 39). The way the Grimm fairy tales depict women reveals a great deal about women and their intended role in German society at the time. In the narratives o ne can clearly identify the female protagonists as an obedient,


63 helpless, but beautiful and pure creature, tied to the private sphere of the house. As soon as the girls or women leave this safe sphere and enter the outside world, disaster happens and only a strong male can rescue them. In contrast, feminist German fairy tales produced after 1968 show an entirely different picture, as Zipes points out in his book The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forests to the Modern W orld (240). For this reason, generaliz ations about women and their role in present day Germany have to reflect this. However, reading the Grimm fairy tales can serve as an ideal springboard towards a deeper analysis of women in German society. As outlined beforehand, fairy tales lend themselve and behavior, values, physical and psychological needs of society as well as differences in language structures and use. Nonetheless, fairy tales als o support revealing information about developments in entertainment over centuries, in particular through the different modes of fairy tale presentati on. At the time the B rother s Grimm first published their collection of fairy tales, it was common for chi ldren to have a personal storyteller. In modern society often a non personal medium such as television takes over the position storyteller and has almost completely replaced r (5). However, studies show that children still prefer to have a fairy tale told by living person who is physically present. Fairy tales told on radio, television, CD or telephone are never a full substitute for t he living narrator. Although they might be very convenient for a busy mother, they do not give the same opportunity to interrupt, to ask questions, or, when it gets frightening or exiting, to cuddle up a little bit closer. The electronic media thus communi cate the excitement and exhilaration of the action in the fairy tales, without however at the same time conveying the feeling of w armth and security. (209)


64 Aschenputtel being read to them still feel more secure and protected compared to the children who watch a motion picture on television. Additionally, children that have the chance to ask questions or interrupt the story are actively engaged in a dialogue instead of being a passive c onsumer who does not get the chance to question. Questions have been raised whether children who passively watch the TV version are less likely to critically question a story, while children who listen to a fairy tale might be more active and critical in t heir thinking. To further investigate this matter, more research needs to be conducted before any correlation between uncritical versus critical thinking and the mode of presentation of fairy tales is certain. But it is food for thought, for researchers as well as for students in the German L2 classroom. Additionally, the students can compare the format and adaptation of fairy tales encountered by them and their German peers, who apparently still are more acquainted with the literary Brother Grimm version t han any other adaptation of fairy tales. A press release of the Gruner + Jahr publishing house in February 2010 shows that a compilation of the most loved classical fairy tales edited and published by the well known German parenting journal Eltern sold a r ecord high of more than 100,000 books from October 2009 to January 2010. Even though in Germany, too, the consumption of modern fairy tale adaptations for the screen is probably on the rise, these figures indicate that Germans still prefer to read classica l fairy tales to their children. In contrast, the majority of American youngsters seem to encounter only the Disney adaptations that they either watched on television or read as an illustrated book While it is still questionable, what the exact differenc e in outcome is between having a


65 fairy tale story read aloud to children and having it shown to them on television, the differences between the Grimm version and Disney in function and content reveal much about cultural differences between Germans and Amer icans. While the classical German fairy tale focuses more on an instructional and moral message for surviving everyday life, Zipes suggests in his book Happily Ever After : Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry that the main purpose of the Disney movies is to entertain and to forget about harsh reality (4). Moreover, Disney adaptations put less or no emphasis on justice in the end or obedience to moral standards, even though Disney fairy tales also include a set of moral values, similar to the ones found in Grimm fairy tales (Rhrich 212 13). Maria Tatar shows with her research that children who grow up listening to classical fairy tales are more likely to be obedient than those who do not. The scholar explains that fairy tales as method of discipline and expect forgiveness in the end, have trouble accepting consequences for their actions in real life. While these findings are still subject to academic discourse, they can serve nevertheless as basis for fruitful classroom discussions. In sum, reading fairy tales in the German L2 classroom provides an excellent way for students to gain insigh t into German culture, whether from a past perspective through reading classical Grimm fairy tales or from a modern perspective through reading more contemporary authors of the same genre. In addition, comparing and and


66 approach, the students become aware of differences in the content of fairy tales and regarding developments in present ation of fairy tales over time and within a national context. Teaching Culture through Reading Fairy Tales: An Overview Without question, the foreign language teacher has the duty to teach about the target culture and as I showed in Chapter 2 teaching cu lture through literature is an excellent way to do it. Since teachers are trained in literary analysis, reading and analyzing literature is thus something they are familiar with and that is already part of the established curriculum in foreign language lea rning. As I demonstrated in this chapter, fairy tales not only fulfill all the criteria of an ideal reading material in SLA, but also lend themselves very well to combining literary analysis with teaching about culture in the German L2 classroom. Whether c ontemporary tales or classical Grimm versions, the narratives always connect German language, culture and world view, while leaving enough room for exploring and evaluating culturally shaped ideas from numerous angles. Therefore, I elaborated my thesis of reading fairy tales as an ideal way of teaching about culture. I would like to conclude this chapter with a quote by Steven Swann Jones. The scholar states Whether we read the plots, characters, motifs, and the basically symbolic style as conveying cultura l values, sexist strictures, psychological proclivities, or philosophical paradigms, the point is that they are telling us something, many things, and it is incumbent upon us as audience members and as students of the fairy tale as a genre to attempt to de cipher the ideas and concerns imbedded in the narrative semiology of these memorable, enduring, and appealing stories. (140) Indeed, f airy tales can be read in many different ways. However, as I outlined in this chapter, the tales always tell the audience something about the culture from which they


67 originate from and help closing gaps in cultural understanding in the foreign language classroom. The next chapter will focus on how the tales aid teaching about culture in the Intermediate German L2 classroom in practice and give various ideas for classroom implementation.


68 CHAPTER 5 IDEAS FOR CLASSROOM I MPLEMENTATION Teaching Approach Claire Kramsch suggests avoiding teacher constructed messages while reading narratives in the second language ( L2 ) classroom. In stead, instructors should us e the story line of narratives as a springboard for oral or written communicative activities which can exploit the cultural information found (106). Consequently, the following ideas for classroom implementation reflect her app roach and center on, but are not limited to, analytical reading involving and iscussion activities c omposing original tales and r espon ses to stories on a personal level While it is possible to integrate th ese exercises int o an advanced b eginner course, I propose that the exercises are best suited for Intermediate learners, who have already mastered the necessary grammar and vocabulary. This leaves room for more sophisticated tasks, such as critical evaluation or free writi ng. For less advanced students, one finds simplified versions of fairy tales or texts with glossaries, which allow even beginners at a lower proficiency level to engage with the texts. Aschenputtel vs. Cinderella The first instance of implementing teaching culture through reading fairy tales c ompar es classical German fairy t ales to the adapted Disney versions of the same stories which facilitates American students of German to gain a greater awareness of cultural differences One fair y tale that lends itself in particular to such cultural comparison, and which can be worked on at any language proficiency level, is the


69 However, the instructor could choos and for the same purpose. Pre Reading Activities for According to Jo Ann Aebersold and Mary Lee Field, every reader approaches a text with both individualized and culturally shaped expectations. Yet, in order to achieve the same goals through reading a text, the class has to establish shared expectations for a given work before the reading begins (162). Consequently, the instructor should s tart the unit with a brainstorming activity of what students already kn ow about fairy tales and the fairy tale genre: What narrative makes it a fairy tale? Where do they usually take place? What kind of characters appear? What themes occur? What fairy tales do the students know? There are numerous possibilities of activating background knowledge that can lead to identifying t ypical elements of the narrative motifs, and structure of fairy tales Depending on time and teaching style, the students either explore these elements by themselves or get prepared hand outs. In addition to structural background knowledge, the teacher should provide a list of the most important new vocabulary items that appear in the text. Another potential pre reading activity consists of collecting f acts on the stories and the Brothers Grimm While this constitutes an excellent group activity in class, for which the teacher provides the material, such as books, an encyclopedia, and/ or websites for internet research, students can also work on this individually at home. After these gener al pre reading activities, the time has come to set the mood for images, and / or by writing cues on the board, for example Stiefmutter, Stiefschwester,


70 Prinz, Schuh A t the end of the pre reading activities the students should know that they are going to rea s Grimm next. With or Without a Glossary or Dictionary The next step is reading which allows r eading the German version either as hard copy text or online. Reading it online has the advantage that students can use a glossary or dictionary which enables them to look up unknown vocabulary quick and easy. Yet, the print version is more practical for the students to work on in classrooms that do not provide computer access for every student. Depending on what skills the teacher wants to practice in class, he or she can choose between several possibilities of reading the text in class, ranging from sil ent reading by students to reading out loud entirely by the teacher. I recommend students should have the chance to at least once read the whole tale in silence before working on it together with the teacher, as this represents a more authentic reading mod e. H owever, Claire Kramsch argues that at least of the narrative should be read (and re (140) Therefore, I suggest the instructor first presents the whole text to the class on a big scre en and lets the students individually read it in silence, before reading and re reading it together with the class divided into smaller parts. Consequently, the instructor should turn off the screen after the initial phase of individual reading and hand ou t the text physically not as a whole but rather divided into two or more parts. This way everyone gets the chance to read the text first in a more natural manner. By not having the complete text available when working on specific passages, this format focu ses all ahead. Then the instructor reads aloud the first part and students concentrate on his or


71 her pronunciation, before students re read the text in class themselves fo r content Later the teacher hands out the remaining parts, either at once or over time, depending on the emphasis of the post reading activities. Post Reading Activities At this point, the focus should be mainly on students understanding the content of reading activities should include summarizing the content, answering questions in the the characters, the plot where and when the action takes place, how the tale ends and what moral the tale advances. A own words. However, only after the teacher has ensured that students fully comprehe nd the content, can he or she move to analytical discussion questions, such as whether the text, and what they felt while reading it. The instructor should collect an the board to visualize and organize their collective responses, which in return can aid students to write a short essay, in which they explain their personal point of view on the discussion questions and i Yet, the instructor also has the choice to assign activities including more creative writing, such as letting the students re write the narrative according to their own likings or transfer the t ale into modern times and American society, for example how the students think could live and act in the U S today. After collecting these works, the instructor should pick some examples in order to read and analyse them in class, which con


72 culture in the new narratives and how these elements relate to and reflect cultural differences. Watch Excerpts of the Disney Movie in German Following the reading of the classical Gr post reading activities, the teacher should center on the Disney adaptation next. He or she can either download German from online sources such as or use a German version of the movie to show it in class. The main focus of this exercise is to refresh the memory of the students regarding the film, in order to later highlight the differences between the Grimm version and the Disney adaptation. Hence, it is im portant to choose scenes that differ in content the protagonist gets up or when the Fairy Godmother appears. However, listening to the sound without the pictures as a first step brings an interesting listening comprehension, but this approach also offers the students a different perspective for later conclusions about the Disney adaptation, especially regarding the importance of sound and singing. Compare and After watching the movie, the time has come for students to compare and contrast the two versions board, which m akes a compare and contrast exercise easier for students, especially for visual learners. The following chart is an example of such a compar ison between the traditional Grimm version and the Disney adaptation which highlights t he similarities and differ ences in terms of content side by side.


73 Grimm Version Disney Version Conflict with stepmother and stepsister yes yes Appearance Aschenputtel is dirty Cinderella looks very clean and nice Funny elements no yes Christian values yes yes Blood and violen ce yes no Good is rewarded yes yes Evil is punished yes no Figure 4 1. Comparison chart Grimm vs. Disney As a potential homework assignment the instructor then can assign writ ing a summary of the comparison. Lastly, students should think about possibl e differences regarding the purpose of animal friends and if not, how does Moreover, the different modes of presentation are open to discussion As written assignment students could compare their attitude towards classical fairy tales before and after the analysis and argue wheth er or not they would read Grimm fairy tales to their own children. Moreover, the students could write an essay about what cultural embedded values one finds in the Disney adaptations versus the Grimm version.


74 Freedom and Self sieben Geilein One major cultural difference in growing up in the United States versus in Germany is the different degree of freedom children experience in their childhood and the self responsibility i nvolved. While a great number of American school aged children seem to be under permanent supervision and control by their mothers, German mothers grant their offspring more freedom and time on their own. For example, in the U S it is more common than not that mothers drive their children from one place to the next; no matter whether it is to school, or to visit friends. School aged German children on the other hand frequently use public transportation by themselves to get around, whether before or after school. Consequently, in Germany it is perfectly normal for a first grader to walk to school or take the bike, even if that includes crossing intersections, while in the U S this is unthinkable. Additionally, in the U S children spend their afternoons regu larly in organized group activities supervised by adults, ranging from after school care at their schools to soccer practice or girl scouts / boy scouts. In Germany on the other hand, organized after school care is still not widely available. Thus, childre n spend their afternoons either at home or in the immediate neighborhood. Yet, in these settings the youngsters often find less supervision than their American peers. German mothers expect the children to behave in a responsible manner towards themselves a s well as towards others and their surroundings. Accordingly, children in Germany experience a higher degree of freedom and self responsibility than their peers in the U S a cultural difference that t he instructor can emphasize by utilizing the two fairy tales


75 youngsters and serve as an ideal springboard to the topic. Pre Rotkppchen In addition to the universal pre reading activities outlined ab ove, such as a fairy tale vocabulary handout and general introduction to the genre, the instructor could start this unit by talking about how the students used to get around as children Moreover, the discussion should touch on the modes of transportation Did they walk or take the bus to school or to visit friends ? At what age did they ride their bike to school? Next, the instructor should inquire h ow usually spen t their afternoons during their childhood and whether they w ere s ometimes unsupervised. Did they ever visit a friend or relative, who lived further away all by themselves? What rules had been set up when doing so? After having students answer these questions, the instructor can Rotkppchen acti the tale. Another possibility of Rotkppchen cues on the board, like Mdchen, Wolf, Wald, Gromutter Jger. Rotkppchen nary Rotkppchen as hard copy text or online. However, as I explained above, in either case it is important to read at least the first part together in class in such a manner that best s uits the skills the teacher wants to practice during class. Post Reading Activities Besides the above outlined post reading activities, such as summarizing or answering questions about the content, the teacher should emphasize with this


76 narrative that th e little girl walked all by herself through the dark woods in order to visit her grandmother. Questions to reflect on are for example, whether or not it would be possibly get there. In the past, I did this exercise with two groups of Beginner German students and one group of Intermediate students. While answering these questions, all probably would not go by herself. Students named such as the potential danger of the child being kidnapped or getting lost. Instead, Rotkppchen mother dedicated to drive her children around in the afternoons. Students were frequently s urprised to learn that there is no German translation for this expression, which underscores different cultural practices of children getting around embedded in language. In addition, the given reasons display potential cultural differences to the target c ulture and are open to discussion with the learners. As a possible homework assignment and depending on the proficiency level of the group, the instructor can assign students either to discuss the underlying fears of society critically when it comes to chi ldren walking around unsupervised, to re write the narrative with an alternative ending or to transfer the tale into modern times and American society. Rotkppchen S today. After collecting these works the instructor should pick a number of examples in order to read and analyze them in class, which constitutes a good opportunity to identify elements relate to and refl ect cultural differences. Additionally, the instructor can refer to already


77 existing local American adaptations of the tale, for instance uisiana or the adaptation The by James Thurber, in which Little Red Riding Hood shoots the wolf with an automatic gun. Compare and C ontrast Modes of Transportation Next, the instructor should take a look at the transportation situation of children in Germany today. Naturally, at the time the Grimm s collected the tales walking was the most po pular mode of getting around as people did not have cars. Yet, in modern Germany it is still common for children to walk by themselves especially to school The teacher c an illustrate this with examples, such as the city of Griessheim near Frankfurt, where according to Irene Bruninger the town officials even invested in play ground like equipment on sidewalks to make the way to and from school more fun for the children. As resources t he teacher can use either an online video on the topic or read both provided by the ZDF Mediathek. Following the input on how children get to school in Germany, the class then and rent practiced modes of transportation between Germany and th e US, and how this relates to freedom and self responsibility. A possible writing assignment could be a short essay, in which the students take position regarding the different modes of transport ation for children and their advantages and disadvantages. This can also include dealing with the fear of kidnapping and accidents and students should state why or why not they would let their future children walk to elves.


78 Pre As the students are already familiar with fairy tales at this point of the unit, the which is a tale less known giving cues, the instructor thus has to prepare the group for the content in a different way. For instan ce, he or she asks whether or not the students sometimes spent the afternoons unsupervised at home during their childhood. Were there rules in such a case, for example never open the door and let strangers in the house? T hese initial questions and collecti ng the students responses function not only as an introduction to the fairy tale, but also to relate the unknown tale to the students own life in order to generate a personal interest for the topic. Just the tale lends itself to a greater extent to be read aloud with divided roles. Post Reading Activities After ensuring students understood the content of the text, p ost reading activities dealing with this narrative should focus on the fact that the mother goat left the children unattended at home. W hile there are numerous approaches to the tale, one possible starting point for discussion could be under what circumstances American mothers would leave their children unattended at home. My past students often related unattended and unsupervised children with a lower socio economic background.


79 Interestingly, students subsequently associated the goat with a single mother that can not afford childcare, which illustrates in an extraordinary manner how implied role expe ctations and cultural pattern in this ca se the American influence the perception of a narrative. However, the instructor could provide statistics about childcare and/ or single mothers in modern Germany, but also indicate how these topics were perceived collected this fairy tale. Was the social status of a single mother different 200 years ago? What childcare options were there? In addition, students suggested that American mothers leaving their children alone would be bad mothers neglecting the primary duty of mo therhood: caring for their offspring, protecting them from the dangers of the outside world and spending time with teacher has once more the opportunity to point out, how these culturally embedded values influence the way readers perceive and understand a text. Yet, the emphasis of this unit is on freedom and self responsibility in childhood. Thus, the instructor should highlight the warnings of the goat regarding the wolf intentions and possible disguises. In the narrative freedom is linked to the responsibility of using this freedom in a responsible manner. The consequences of not acting responsible are devastating. Students should reflect on what American mothers pract ice in order to prepare and protect their youngsters from the dangerous outside world. What are similarities and differences to the narrative? German mothers today still commonly refer to as a warning, when they leave the ir children at home. What do the students think about that? A productive assignment for the students could be to let them transfer the fairy tale into modern American society,


80 should collect these works, and chose a number of examples in order to read and analyse narratives and how these elements relate to and reflect cultural differences. Effect s of Differences in Transportation and Parental Control resp onsibility, but also to display obedience to authori ty Do the students believe in a relationship between reading fairy tales and a greater degree of self responsibility in children or are fairy tales simply a different form of parental control? In addition, the different degrees of freedom and self respons ibility during childhood in the U S and Germany, which constitute the core of this unit, are open to classroom discussion A writing assignment could be an essay, in which students take a position to the questions above. In another, more general writing attitude towards fairy tales before and after this unit. This should include whether or not and if with what purpose the students would read fairy tales to their own future children. Outlook In this chapter, I gave concrete examples of how fairy tales connect to culture, sensitize the students to the experience thematized by the narratives, mainly through personalized questions, writing activities, or parallel texts (140). Actively engaging with thought. Yet, taking a look at the narrative from a personal point of view in combination with recurr and


81 critically reflect on the topic, which is essential for personal growth and developing cultural awareness and understanding Additionally, the exercises I chose leave ample room for exploring and evaluating illustrate how cultural embedded ideas relate to and ref lect cultural differences. This applies also to the perception of texts, exemplarily shown by the goat as poor single interesting to find out, whether students in Germa ny today identify and interpret the character like their American peers. Yet, the ideas for implementation in this chapter represent only a small number of possibilities of facilitating teaching about culture in the German L2 classroom. However, I hope to have demonstrated that fairy tales constitute a valuable teaching material in gaining cultural background knowledge, closing gaps in understanding and raising cultural awareness.


82 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION In Chapter 2 I demonstrated how language pre eminen tly embodies the values and meanings of a culture. Moreover, I explained the necessity to teach both of these concepts in the s econd language classroom as without knowledge about the culture component, the learner cannot communicate functionally. After eva luating different approaches to teaching culture, I concluded that teaching culture through r eading appears to be a viable way to incr ease cultural awareness in the f oreign l anguage classroom. Thereafter, I clarified in Chapter 3 the purpose and role of re ading in s econd l anguage a cquisition (SL A ) and demonstrated that reading can be of great use for the purpose of highlighting differences in language and culture. Furthermore, I investigated possible reading materials in SLA and evaluated their suitability regarding teaching about culture. My findings in Chapter 4 show that fairy tales not only fulfill all the criteria of an ideal reading material in SLA, but that they also lend themselves very well to combining literary analysis with teaching about culture in the German Second Language ( L2 ) classroom. Whether contemporary tales or classical Grimm versions, the narratives always connect German language, culture, and world view, m aking cultural differences visible to foreign language learners. Consequently, fairy tales help to build socio cultural awareness of the target language, which constitutes extremely important in avoiding misunderstandings. I agree with Claire Kramsch when she argues in the European Journal of Education o acquire is less an understanding of one


83 Yet, reading fairy tales connects the reader not only with the target culture, but also allows a fresh ulture. Therefore, the ideas for implementation I provided in Chapter 5 native language and culture compared to German language and culture. Yet, the exercises allow ample room for critical refl ection, which help to build a greater awareness of cultural differences per se. In summary, reading fairy tales connects insights drawn from both languages and cultures and facilitates teaching about culture in order to create intercultural competence and understanding, which in turn fosters the language learning process.


84 LIST OF REFERENCES Aebersold, Jo Ann, and Mary Lee Field. From Reader to Reading Teacher: Issues and Strategies for Second Language Classrooms Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Bennet, M New Ways in Teaching Culture Ed. Alvino Fantini. Alexandria, Va.: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 1997. 16 21. Bernhardt, Elizabeth. Reading Devel opment in a Second Language: Theoretical, Empirical, and Classroom Perspectives Norwood, NJ: Ablex Pub., 1991. Bruninger, Irene. "Eine Stadt Zum Spielen" Sonntags ZDF, 22 Aug ust 2010. . 14 January 2011. Brown, H. Douglass. "Learning a Second Culture." Culture Bound: Bridging the Cultural Gap in Language Teaching Ed. Joyce Merrill Valdes. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986. 33 48. "Brder Grimm." Projekt Gutenberg DE SPIEGE L ONLINE Nachrichten Kultur . 10 Dec ember 2010. Bygate, Martin, and Virginia Samuda. Tasks in Second Language Learning. Basingstoke (GB): Pa lgrave Macmillan, 2008. Byram, Michael. Cultural Studies in Foreign Language Education Clevedon: Mu ltilingual Matters, 1989. Byram, Michael and Grundy, Peter. "Introduction: Context and Culture in Language Teaching and Learning." Introduction. Context a nd Culture in Language Teaching and Learning Ed. Michael Byram and Peter Grundy. Clevedon : Multilingual Matters, 2003. 1 3. Danesi, Marcel. Second Language Teaching: a View from the Right Side of the Brain Bosto n: Kluwer Academic, 2003. Day, Richard R., and Julian Bamford. Extensive Reading in the Second Language Classroom Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 1998. Eisenchlas, Susana, and Susan Trevaskes. "Intercultural Competence:Examples of Internationalizing the Curriculum through Students' Interactions." Learning and Teaching across Cultures in Higher Education Ed. David Palfreyman and Dawn Lorraine McBride. Basingstoke: Palgr ave Macmillan, 2007. 177 92. Fcke, Christiane. "Autobiographical Contexts of Mono Cultural and Bi Cultural Students and Their Si gnificance in Foreign Language Literatures Courses."


85 Context and Culture in Language Teaching and Learning Ed. Michael Byram and Peter Grundy. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 2003. 32 42. New Ways in Teaching Culture Ed. Alvino Fantini. Alexandria, Va.: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 1997. 3 15. Grauberg, Walter. The Elements of Foreign Language Teaching Clevedon: Mu ltilingual Matters, 1997. Holme, Randal. "Ca rrying a Baby in the Back: Teaching with an Awareness of the Cultural Construction of Language." Context and Culture in Language Teaching and Learning Ed. Michael Byram and Peter Grundy. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 2003. 18 31. Humbach, Nancy. "Readin g Strategies and Skills." Komm Mit! Ed. George Winkler. Orlando, FL: Holt, R inehart & Winston, 2006. 38 39. Hughes, George H. Culture analysis in the second language classroom ." Culture Bound: Bridging the Cultural Gap in Language Teaching Ed. Joyce Mer rill Valdes. C ambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986. 162 69 Jaatinen, Riitta. Learning Languages, Learning Life Skills Autobiographical Reflexive Approach to Teaching and Learning a Foreign Language New York: Springer, 2007. "Kindermrchen Edition Von Erziehlt Rekord | Pressemitteilungen" Pressemitteilungen Kostenlos, Pressemeldungen, PR Artikel, News, Pressemitteilungen 10 Feb uary 2010. . 13 Dec ember 2010. Kramsch, Claire J. Context and Culture in Language Teaching Oxford: Oxford U P, 1993. "Language Study as Border Study: Experiencing Difference." European Journal of Education 28.3 (1993): 349 58. Krashen, Stephen D. "Free Voluntary Reading: Linguistic and Affective Arguments and Some New Applications." Second Language Acquisition: Theory and Pedagogy Ed. Fred R. Eckman, Diane Highland, Peter W. Lee, Jean Milcham, and Rita Rutkowski Weber. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum A ssociate s, 1995. 187 202. Nieto, Sonia. Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives for a New Century Mahwah N.J.: L. Erlbaum, 2002. Omaggio Hadley, Alice. Teaching Language in Context 3rd ed. Bosto n: Heinle & Heinle, 2001.


86 shbourne, Wolfgang Mieder, and Sabine Wienker Piepho. "And They Are Still Living Happily Ever After": Anthropology, Cultural History, and Interpretation of Fairy Tales Burlington, Vt.: Uni versity of Vermont, 2008. Learning and Teaching across Cultures in Higher Education Ed. David Palfreyman and Dawn Lorraine McBride. Basingstok e: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 213 28 Schwerdtfeger, Inge. "A Phenomenological Appro ach to the Teaching of Culture: An Asset to the Teaching of Language Awareness?" Language Awareness 2.1 (1993): 35 46. New Ways in Teaching Culture Ed. Alvino Fantini. Alexandria, Va.: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 1997. 22 27 Teaching Culture: Strategies for Intercultural Communication 3rd ed. Lincolnwood, Ill. : National Textbook, 1993. on Why It is Desirable and Redefining the Boundaries of Language Study. Ed. Claire Kramsch. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1995. 251 60. Swann Jones, Steven. The Fairy Tale : The Magic Mirror of Imaginat ion. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995. Swiderski, Richard M. Teaching Language, Learning Culture Westport, Conn .: Bergin & Garvey, 1993. Tatar, Maria. Off with Their Heads!: Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1992. Taylor, Eric K. Using Folktales Cambr idge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Urquhart, A lastair H ugh and Cyril J. Weir. Reading in a Second Language: Process, Product, and Practice London: Longman, 1998. Valdes, Joyce Merrill. "Language, Though t and Culture." Int roduction. Culture Bound: Bridging the Cultural Gap in Language Teaching Ed. Joyce Merrill Valdes. Cambridge: C ambridge UP, 1986. 1 4. Culture in literature. Culture Bound: Bridging the Cultural Gap in Language Teaching Ed. Joyce Merrill Valdes. Ca mbridge: Cambridge UP, 1986. 137 47 Context and Culture in Language


87 Teaching and Learning Ed. Michael Byram and Peter Grundy. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 2003. 92 105. Learning and Teaching across Cultures in Higher Education Ed. David Palfreyman and Dawn Lorraine McBride Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 55 73. Zipes, Jack Happily Ever After. Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry. New York: Routledge, 1997. Breaking T he M agic Spell: R adical Th eories of Folk and Fairy T ales Lexington: Univ ersity of Kentucky, 2002. The Bro thers Grimm: F rom Enchanted Forests to the Modern World New York ; Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.


88 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Christina Cindy Walter is a native Germa n. She received a degree in Business Administration at the Fachhochschule Kempten and then worked as a marketing a ssistant before she w ent back to school and studied e conomics, English and German at the Pdagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe. In 2007 2008 she s tud ied one year abroad at the University of Northern Col orado, where she gained first experiences in teaching German as a foreign language. After returning to Germany s he successfully completed her course of studies with the degree Erstes Staatsexamen in Spring 2009, but decided to keep on teaching German as a Foreign Language. Therefore, she came to the University of Florida and started to study German with the goal of becoming a Germa n instructor in the future. Her research interests include modern German Literature after 1945, German short stories and s econd language acquisition p edagogy.