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Learning language, learning culture: Constructing Finnishness in adult learner textbooks

Hjelm, T; Valijarvi, R; Lee, A; Linnenweber, A; Tárkanyi, T; Troll, P; (2017) Learning language, learning culture: Constructing Finnishness in adult learner textbooks. European Journal of Cultural Studies 10.1177/1367549417719062. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Learning a second language can be considered a primary example of what Berger and Luckmann call ‘secondary socialisation’. Through careful decisions concerning what to include and what to omit, textbooks have the power to direct what a beginner can and should say in their target language. Additionally, textbooks have the responsibility of representing the cultures that speak the language. Much of a language learner’s initial understanding of a national culture in its own language is dependent on the constructions of that culture in their learning resources. This article examines how two widely used series of Finnish language textbooks for adult learners construct ‘typical’ Finnishness and the implications of these constructions for contemporary debates about national identity. Through an application of a version of critical discourse analysis, we show that the hegemonic image of Finnishness conforms to the stereotype of a modern, advanced and nature-loving people. But the image is also middle-class, White and conventional (even conservative) in terms of gender equality and sexuality. We argue that the textbooks have a key role in creating an inclusive sense of the host culture and that this inclusiveness is an asset for language acquisition, although at the moment they fall short of this aim.

Type: Article
Title: Learning language, learning culture: Constructing Finnishness in adult learner textbooks
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/1367549417719062
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1177/1367549417719062
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Critical discourse analysis, discourse, Finland, integration, language learning, national identity, textbooks
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10043884
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