Walking through the intercultural field. An ethnographic study on intercultural language learning as a spatial-embodied practice

Woitsch, Ulrike (2012) Walking through the intercultural field. An ethnographic study on intercultural language learning as a spatial-embodied practice. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b2930354


Within concepts on intercultural language learning it is generally acknowledged that the ‘context’ of the individual learning experience plays an important role for the acquisition of a foreign language and intercultural learning processes. A detailed understanding of what it is we call ‘context’ is still missing – as are studies that focus particularly on the language learning environment outside the classroom and the role of everyday space and place for intercultural encounter. This thesis draws largely on spatial theory in addressing space and place as a site of geo-political and social-cultural change, and as a crucial element of intercultural language learning processes.

Narratives, de Certeau (1984: 116) says, are “written by footsteps.” The methodological orientation of this thesis follows both the narratives and footsteps of language learners, and as such is anchored in and around the element of movement. In creating a spatial ‘method assemblage’ (Law 2004) that engages both mobile and visual elements, I am arguing for a methodological change in perspective while giving credit to the perspective of language learners and their everyday routes and learning environments. This argument correlates with the particular methodological tool of ‘guided walks’, in which researcher and language learner walk together on daily routes within places of significance. Giving walking a central methodological and analytic role within this thesis underlines those moments of intercultural experience, which are based on movement, transformation and the search for the ephemeral.

The particular understanding of intercultural language learning as a ‘spatial-embodied practice’ emerges from an ethnographic study as well as from a detailed examination of the ‘intercultural field’. The various imbalances of the ‘intercultural field’ effect intercultural language learning through the body, as well as the senses and practices of diversity, and re-shape an awareness of space. Not only increased physical mobility, but the complex networks of flows and transnational interrelations, increasingly transform intercultural experience. From this perspective, this thesis argues that language learners weave their intercultural experience through practices of ‘place making’ (Ingold 2011), and by moving in between myriad borders and boundaries.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: The print version of this thesis is available for consultation only in the Library.
Keywords: Intercultural language learning, spatial theory, context, embodiment, method assemblages, mobile methods, multisensory methods, ethnography
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Creativity Culture and Faith
Supervisor's Name: Phipps, Prof. Alison and Wenell, Dr. Karen
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: M.A. Ulrike Woitsch
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3325
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2012
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2018 07:46
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/3325

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