Teach English in Cuijiatou Zhen - Baoji Shi

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Mandana Kalantari Bonjar Teflcoursenet_251926 Title: (88): Personal teaching experience I am Mandana Kalantari Bonjar. I have been teaching English for more than ten years. All through these years, Top Notch series (including Fundamentals, Top Notch and Summits) has been the main textbook for me. After getting feedback and analyzing my students’ deeds and ideas as they progress through the course, I have come to the conclusion that there is a connection between the content of the teaching material and students’ ideological stance. To unveil this hidden connection, I started to critically analyze the content of these books. The discourse of textbooks is determined by dominant ideological premises that both precondition and reproduce particular human relationships with nature. This claim is especially represented in subjects like environmental problems, globalization and consumerism. I do believe that concentrating on discursive components of the books, especially pictures and linguistic structures, shows the writers’ intentions on the adopted reporting style. All these pictures and structures serve to indicate the ideological, and political actors’ standing on environmental issues and consumerism. So pictures and grammatical structures should not be easily overlooked by teachers; as they teach students a special way of perceiving the world around them. In pictures, nature is petrified and objectified, as they are an arena where human power is exercised. In Top Notch series, some pictures manifestly advertise “consumerism”, “Western life style”, and animals and nature are represented as “deadly”, “objects which are subject to human will”, and “means of relaxation”. In long run, these pictures can deeply affect learners’ ideology and guide their behavior towards nature and society. For example a picture of a tiger in cage (Summit 1, page 63) implies human power and objectification of animals as objects to be cooped up and looked at. In a similar vein, grammatical structures propagate a unique way of seeing the world. ‘Nominalization’ and ‘passivization’ are widely used in Top Notch series to make humans more separate from nature and animals. Nominalization is using a noun to refer to an activity or process. The study of nominalization presupposes an understanding of the interaction of morphology, syntax and semantics. What really matters in this writing is how the morphological complexity of nominalizations relates to their event- and argument-structural complexity. The most conspicuous result of nominalization is the subject’s vanishing into thin air, leaving no trace of the intended subject. For example, action in these sentences does not specify who will act: (1) . …inhumane treatment of animals (Summit 1, 64) (2) Hunting, bullfighting…..should be completely banned (Summit 1, 64) (3) The current wave of species extinctions….(Summit 1, 70) (4) Pollution is the act of causing air, water or land to become dirty and unhealthy (Top Notch 3, 118) In these sentences, humans are the main “agents” and responsible for the adverse condition of nature and animals. But no agent is introduced. In passive structures, the agent is deliberately deleted and it becomes somehow impossible for the reader/ listener to recognize the agent of the action. Passivization is the shift in focus from the agent (performer or doer) and his actions to the patient (the receiver or doer) and the actions done to them. Enjoying this apparatus, the writers intentionally eliminate human delinquency and misdeeds. (5) Animals should never be killed just for sport or entertainment (Summit 1, 64). (6) I hate seeing animals cooped up in cages (Summit 1, 63). (7) Biodiversity is reduced when ecosystems are modified and habitats of plants and animals are destroyed (Summit 1, 70). Again, in these special structures, the main culprit, humans are removed. Discourse analysis in its creative form can override the logic of dominating nature, and excessive consumption. In textbooks, material and symbolic choices do not exist in neutral and vacuous space. I think teachers should be acquainted with these concepts and mechanisms which are subtly engineered in textbooks. Through this familiarity, the books should be part of the solution of preserving nature and local cultures, and educating educated generation. By raising students who appreciate traditional and local life style, and doubt consumerism, a large part of economic and cultural problems will be solved.