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Title: The Role of English in Culture Presearvation in Bhutan
Contributor(s): Thinley, Dorji (author); Maxwell, Thomas W  (author)
Publication Date: 2013
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Abstract: This study explores issues surrounding the preservation and promotion of culture in the context of the secondary school English curriculum in Bhutan. The languages of Bhutan carry a rich and diverse tradition of oral literatures, but these genres and the cultural values they embody may disappear if they are not promoted. In Bhutan, schools are an active culture preservation site. For this reason, and also since English is the language of curricula for most subjects taught in school, we assumed that one of the ways in which Bhutan's diverse cultures can be honoured and enlivened is through the study of folk literature in the English curriculum. We asked two questions: (1) "How do secondary English teachers perceive the long-term role of Bhutanese folk literature as a source of cultural knowledge in the English curriculum?" and (2) "What knowledge and attitude do secondary students show following three months of learning about Bhutanese folk literature in the secondary English curriculum?" To address the first question, 38% of all secondary English teachers (n-181) responded to a purpose-built questionnaire followed by in-depth interviews undertaken with six (expert) teachers. The second research question was addressed using action research conducted with twenty-Jour Class 11 science students over three months in a higher secondary school in south Bhutan. Three important perspectives on the role of English in culture maintenance were identified. First, the latter can create opportunities for students to learn English in culturally familiar contexts. Second, using folk literatures that exist in different languages but translated into English as pedagogical catalysts will not only promote the values of cultural diversity in school but will also ensure the intergenerational continuity of Bhutanese culture through the education of children. Third, since English is a global language and a language of growing popularity in Bhutan, English translations of oral literature will promote cultural diversity and continuity in the face of globalization.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Journal of Bhutan Studies, 28(Summer), p. 1-29
Publisher: Centre for Bhutan Studies
Place of Publication: Thimphu, Butan
ISSN: 1608-411X
Field of Research (FOR): 200303 English as a Second Language
130204 English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl LOTE, ESL and TESOL)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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