Beyond ‘ignorance’: using the cultural stereotypes of Americans studying in the UK as a resource for learning and teaching about British culture

Article English OPEN
Janes, Dominic (2011)

A course introducing British culture is a standard component of many study abroad programmes running in this country that are aimed at international students who will be spending a limited amount of time in the United Kingdom. However, it is not often acknowledged that such students possess a range of strong pre-conceptions about British culture and society prior to their arrival. Conventional teaching strategies assume student ignorance of the subject. However, an alternative approach which makes us of pre-arrival stereotypes can be more productive in terms of engaging students in active processes of comparative analysis of their new and existing knowledge. A case study of American student stereotypes of the British monarchy is presented and it is suggested that these can be used as the basis for refining student understanding of cultural politics in the United Kingdom. International students, therefore, should not be treated as being culturally ignorant of Britain in the sense of having no knowledge or opinions at all. Rather, it should be understood that they possess a culturally mediated state of subjectivity which I refer to as ‘ignorance’ and that this can become a valuable resource for teaching and learning.
  • References (7)

    Fairlie, C. (2004). Seeing Scotland: creating visual imagery in an Ohio classroom. Changing English 11, 205-11.

    Frederick, P. J. (2000). Motivating students by active learning in the history classroom. In A. Booth & P. Hyland (Eds), The practice of university history teaching (pp . 101 - 111). Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Giroux, H. A. (1994). Doing cultural studies: youth and the challenge of pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 64(3), 278-308.

    Grote, D. (1992). British English for American readers: a dictionary of the language, customs and places of British life and literature. Westport: Greenwood Press.

    Hall, S. (1997). Representation: cultural representations and signifying practices. London: Sage.

    Holdship, B. (1997). Britpop, schmitpop! In American it's spelled O-A-S-I-S. Retrieved October 1, 2005 from

    Jackson, S., & Solis, J. (1995). Introduction: resisting zones of comfort in multiculturalism. In S. Jackson & J. Solis (Eds), Beyond the comfort zone: Confronting the politics of privilege (pp. 1 - 14). Westport: Bergin & Garvey.

  • Metrics
    views in OpenAIRE
    views in local repository
    downloads in local repository

    The information is available from the following content providers:

    From Number Of Views Number Of Downloads
    Birkbeck Institutional Research Online - IRUS-UK 0 28
Share - Bookmark