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December 2016
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e-ISSN: 1694-2639
p-ISSN: 1694-2620
AAJHSS.ORG
Vol 8, No 6 December 2016
Table of Contents
Cross-Cultural Understanding Between Mexicans and Americans Based 1
on the Movie Spanglish
Diana Martinez, Ph.D.

The Abu Dhabi school model: Effective delivery of the curriculum 24


Dr. Tommi Eranpalo, Cynthia Jorgenson, ABD and Dr. M. Lynn
Woolsey

Searching for unity in variety: The role of aesthetics and philosophy of 36


science
Frederick Mordi

Using the right questions well: Towards a learner centered English 47


language in Ghanaian senior high schools
Hilarius Kofi Kofinti
International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
p-ISSN: 1694-2620
e-ISSN: 1694-2639
Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 1-23, IJHSS

Cross-Cultural Understanding Between Mexicans and


Americans Based on the Movie Spanglish

Diana Martinez, Ph.D.


Stamford International University
Rama 9 Campus, Bangkok, Thailand

Abstract
This study demonstrates the cultural behaviours and patterns found among Mexican and
American citizens when interacting with each other. To reach a successful interaction between
people who not only differ in language but also in cultural background, it is necessary to turn to
context and non-verbal communication cues. In order to show that feelings such as love and
respect are conveyed in the same way across cultures, three dialogues from the movie Spanglish
are transcribed and analysed according to four categories: cultural aspects, non-verbal
communication, paralinguistic features, and linguistic issues.

Keywords: intercultural communication, language, Mexican, American, non-verbal


communication

Introduction
When a person travels abroad to a place where the official language is different from his or her
mother tongue, the situation becomes more difficult than if the linguistic code was shared.
Furthermore, language (verbal communication) and non-verbal communication (facial
expressions, voice pitch, hand gestures, etc.) hold great importance in intercultural interactions.
The important concepts of identity and intercultural communication are present in this study
where the persons cultural roots are the ones that often lead to misunderstandings between the
interlocutors (Martin & Nakayama, 2005).

The movie Spanglish has connections with the colloquial term Spanglish which is used
when either Spanish native speakers or English natives use both languages at the same time with
the purpose of getting their message across (Oxford Dictionaries, 2016). It is not about the
mixture of languages specifically, but about how to communicate successfully in an intercultural
environment. Spanglish is a film produced by the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group in 2004
(Brooks, et al., 2005). This movie shows how American and Mexican cultures can live together
by analyzing the similarities and differences in backgrounds, expectations, behaviors and goals.
The lack of English, the challenges that cultural diversity brings and the feelings of love make
living together more complicated; or, at times, easier to do so.
This paper analyses the key dialogues of the movie Spanglish when the main characters
the Mexican mother whose mother tongue is Mexican Spanish, and the American mother and
father, whose native language is American English, among others interact with each other.
The first part of this study focuses on the theoretical field that explains communication between

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people of different cultures and the elements that are involved. Based on this theoretical
discussion, the second part consists of the analysis of the key intercultural dialogues found in the
movie. Finally, the results show that the characters can communicate their message despite the
language barrier. As the sub-title of the movie states: A movie where emotions dont need
translation (Brooks, et al., 2005).

Literature Review
Communication is derived from the Latin Communicare, meaning to share with or to make
common, as in giving to another a part or share of your thoughts, hopes and knowledge. [...] It
has often been said that communication and culture are inseparable (Jandt, 2010: 39). Thus,
communication varies from one place to another and from one person to another depending on
their cultural and personal background. Research has shown that just seven percent of human
communication is through the actual words. Ninety-three percent of what we communicate with
others is non-verbal (The Human Instruction Manual, 2013, min.1:21). This involves grammar,
vocabulary, linguistic expressions, syntax and semantics. Sharing the language helps the
interlocutors to understand each other; it does not, however, guarantee that two people will
interact successfully.

Communication between two or more people from the same culture, or from different
cultures, goes beyond words; it not only involves the linguistic code but also the gestures, the
hand movements, and the context, among others, that speakers use in order to give meaning to
their words. Non-verbal communication refers to a sources actions and attributes that are not
purely verbal. [] The term can be broadly defined to refer to elements of the environment that
communicate by virtue of peoples use of them (Jandt, 2010: 107). When a conversation takes
place among a group of people elements from the environment, the experiences they have
shared, and the gestures they make, among others things, play an important role when giving
meaning to words and reaching a successful conversation.

Our culture shapes the display rules of when, where, with whom, and how different
emotions should be expressed or suppressed. Nonverbal display rules are learned
within a culture. [] Nonverbal cues are the markers of our identities. The way we
dress, the way we talk, our nonverbal gestures these tell something about who we
are and how we want to be viewed (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2005: 200).

Even though understanding non-verbal communication helps when communicating with


people from cultures that are unfamiliar to us, it can also lead to misunderstandings. While we
expect languages to be different, we are less likely to expect and recognize how nonverbal
symbols are different. Often, when people do not share the same language, they may use some
resort of hand gestures to communicate. In such situations, people discover that the belief that
hand signals and bodily expressions are universal is not true (Jandt, 2010: 112). A particular
symbol does not carry the same meaning in every culture. There are different kinds of non-
verbal elements. As Ting-Toomey and Chung (2005) explained, the body is divided into different
parts where each one contributes to verbal communication in its own way. For example,
everything related to body movements, posture and hand gestures, and facial expressions
belongs to the field of kinesics. The face is, usually, the most visual part of the body that people
pay attention to when interacting, and it might be difficult to comprehend fully. It is concerned
with peoples sense of worth, dignity and identity, and it is associated with issues such as respect,
honour, status, reputation and competence (Spencer-Oatey & Franklin, 2009: 109). Chronemics
is the designated term for discussing what cultures think of the use of time. The term that refers
to the space between people when they are having a conversation is proxemics, and the
appropriate distance between two people varies between cultures and countries. The field of

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haptics is focused on touching during communication. Some cultures rely on physical contacts,
such as touching somebodys shoulder or hands for the purpose of gaining their attention,
whereas others see these gestures as intimate. Appearance also plays a role in communication. First
impressions always count; the clothes a person wears and the make-up and hair are important
here. Paralanguage refers to variations in accent (how the words are pronounced), in pitch range, pitch
intensity, articulation, and the pace and volume of the voice (how loud, soft, fast or slow a person speaks,
along with the coordination of the mouth, tongue and teeth that result in speaking precisely or
slurring the words). Furthermore, silence may have a range of meanings that can be decoded in
different ways depending on the participants backgrounds.

In some cultures, people are very direct when talking, and they do not make use of the
place and surroundings of the situation. In contrast, other cultural groups often employ elements
from the environment to help them communicate, using the place they are in and the situation
that is shared by the participants involved for the purpose of understanding each other. As a
consequence of this, different cultures can be placed in the categories of high-context versus
low context cultures. In high-context communication, much of the meaning is embedded in
the setting or internalized in person. In low-context communication, the meaning is derived
from the coded explicit part of the message (Ting-Toomey, 1991: 8283). The two cultures
involved in the movie Spanglish are Mexican and North American. The United States is near the
low end. [...] Members of high-context cultures appear to be more cautious, make more
assumptions about strangers based on their cultural background, and engage in less nonverbal
communication than members of low-context cultures. (Ting-Toomey, 1991: 8283) Context is
one cultural difference between both cultures: the USA belongs to a low-context culture,
whereas Mexico is placed among the high-context cultures (Kelm, 2011).

The United States is made up of 50 states (50States, 2016); each one with its own
traditions, behaviours and ways of living. Culturally speaking, the country is not homogeneous.
However, there are some broad perceptions that are associated with North-American citizens.
Jandt (2010) outlines some of them:

People in the United States work only to earn money to buy more things. Yet
people in the United States have a special feeling about jobs, defining self and others
by occupation. Work becomes part of ones identity. [...] They are perceived as
placing such a high value on time that efficiency experts, whose emphasis is on
getting things done on time, cause lives to be organized for efficiency so that the
most can get done. [...] Practicality refers here to a preference for short-time goals
over long-term goals. [] The United States is characterized to a high degree by
individualism. [...] The U.S character is characterized by its independence and
individuality. [...] Freedom for people in the United States is the freedom to be an
individual. [...] You have to have a right name to do the right thing. [...] Families in
the United States are likely to be non-traditional. It is estimated that less than 10% of
households now are made up of career fathers, homemaker mothers, and school-age
children (Jandt, 2010: 198203).

Historically speaking, since colonization times, Mexico has been exposed to some social
division and subordination by the Spanish troops. According to Gudykunst, Ting Toomey, &
Tsukasa (1996:152), Mexican society is very hierarchical, and social classes determine who you
are and with whom you can interact. Educational background, financial status, and family ties are
the factors that are taken into account in order to know how to address each individual.
Furthermore, religion is present Mexican daily life and can be perceived in all interactions.
Everything that happens to people is a consequence of Gods will. Respect depends on all of

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these aspects and the linguistic code is aligned with them, distinguishing between tu and
usted accordingly. Tu is not only used on informal occasions but also when holding a
conversation with people that are considered to be of lower social status; whereas usted is
chosen in formal settings and for addressing superior people. In Mexico, Spanish words such
as machismo (sexism), marianismo (womans submissiveness), respeto (respect) and familismo (the
importance of family) are part of everyday parlance (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2005: 156).
Language, identity, and culture are related to each other; thus, in Mexico, words reveal how the
culture and traditions work.

Whilst Spanish is the official language in Mexico; English is the one spoken in the United
States, although it is not the official language in all states. (Liu & Sokhey, 2014). English is the
most widely learned language in the world. Todays estimate is that one fourth of the worlds
population is familiar with English. It is the native language in 12 countries and an official or
semiofficial language in 33 others (Jandt, 2010: 142). English is the most learned language in
Mexico and in all Latin American countries because of their proximity to the U.S. One of the
hardest things to learn when learning English as a second language for Spanish speakers is the
miscellaneous, it is said, the correspondence between the sound of a word and its spelling. For
this reason, that is, because of their accent when speaking English, it is possible to identify the
country of origin of every native Spanish speaker.

Methodology
As Scollon & Scollon, (2001) stated, to analyse an interaction between a group of people it is
important to pay attention to several points such as the scene, the key, the participants, the
message form, the sequence and the manifestation. The scene refers to the location, time, and
place where the conversation takes place. The key makes reference to the tone of the mood of
communication. The participants are the people involved and the roles they take in the
interaction. The message form means the communication channel. The sequence is the
structure and order in which things are said. And the manifestation discusses the non-verbal
elements and implicit elements used in the conversation. Some of these points will be analysed in
each of the chosen dialogues of the movie using five categories: context (scene and participants),
cultural aspects (manifestation and participants), non-verbal communication (manifestation),
paralinguistic features (key, message form, and sequence), and linguistic issues (message). The
analysis and results sections in the following discussion are combined for the purpose of
allowing the reader to understand each dialogue better. A total of three dialogues is transcribed
and analysed. The highlighted parts of each dialogue represent the exact words spoken by the
characters in the scene.

Results and Analysis of Dialogue 1.


Appendix 1 (page 15) shows the first dialogue analysed divided into lines that will be used to
examine the meaning behind words, non-verbal cues and cultural background; it has been
transcribed directly from the dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish (Brooks,
et al., 2005).

Context
The Mexican mother, Flor, who has just moved from Mexico to the United States with her
daughter, is going to an American house for an interview as a housekeeper. Her cousin, who
speaks English, accompanies her to act as interpreter between Flor and the American mother,
Deb, who is looking for a person to clean and takes care of her familys house. The interview
takes place on a sunny morning in the back yard of the house.

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Participants
The participants are Flor (the Mexican mother who does not speak or understand English),
Flors cousin (the interpreter for the conversation), Deb (the American mother), the American
daughter, and the American grandmother.

Cultural Aspects
The first cultural aspect of this first intercultural interaction of the movie is the number of
different topics of conversation they engage in before getting to the main one, which is the job
interview. There are seven opening topics, beginning with where to sit down, followed by the
cousin introducing Flor and providing a little information about her. After the introduction, Deb
interrupts and comments on Flors beauty, and she continues by introducing the other
participants in the interaction: Debs daughter and Debs mother. The fifth topic is about getting
out of the sun because it is a sunny day and it would be better to have the conversation in the
shade. Deb then makes a comment about the jumper Flor is wearing and, after that, she offers
lemonade to the guests. After all this small talk about random things Deb finally gets to the point
of the meeting: interviewing Flor for the position of housekeeper. There are cultures that are
known for being assertive and for getting directly to the point when conversing. Others,
however, prefer to start with small talk and to be more meticulous when expressing their
opinions in a very direct way. Americans belong to the first group, stating their opinions without
fear (University, P. (2013); a cultural aspect that is not shown in this dialogue.

Another cultural aspect shown is politeness. In line 16 Deb introduces her daughter,
Bernie, and her mother, Evelyn, in the middle of the conversation. This is not typical American
politeness. As a general norm, people introduce the people they are with at the beginning of the
interaction. In line 27 shows Mexican politeness. Saying gracias (thank you) and rejecting what
has been offered to you is a sign of politeness, as Flor shows in the interaction (Mexico -
Cultural Etiquette - e Diplomat, 2016). In continuation of this topic, line 83 demonstrates
another characteristic of Mexican politeness that is reflected in not making decisions when a
person of higher status is present. Flor sees Deb as her boss or as someone superior to her and
this is the reason why she does not want to say how much money she would like to earn (Guide,
M. & Guide, M. (2016).

The way the society is divided into social classes and the treatment received by each of
them is another relevant consideration of culture. In line 30 Deb is talking about her husband.
One of the first things she says about him is that He is a top chef. For upper class Americans
it is really important to show their status, their expensive belongings, and their high position in
business. Instead of saying, he is a chef, she says a top chef. The word top reveals the
prestige and wealth she is so proud of (Jandt, 2010). Furthermore, in line 55 Deb shows that
upper class American society does not like to have their faults revealed, and likes it even less
when people laugh at them (Haynes, 2015). She is not saying Flors name correctly and everyone
laughs about it. As a result she becomes upset. In addition to the aspect of saving face, line 70
shows that money is an important issue for both Mexican and North American cultures, but in
different ways (Lacey, 2009). Flor belongs to the low class society of Mexico so she is worried
about earning enough money to be able to pay her rent and feed her daughter. Deb is a member
of the upper class society of the United States. She does not have any money problems.
However, money means luxury and status for her, which is the opposite for Flor. Not only
money is a symbol of status but also appearance. In line 7 of the conversation Deb says to Flor:
Youre gorgeous. This statement shows another aspect of the American culture: women from
the United States, especially the ones who belong to the upper classes, are really concerned about
appearance. They exercise to keep fit, fake tan to have a dark skin colour all year round, wear a
lot of make-up, and buy expensive clothes (Kunin, 2011). Because of this concern for their

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appearance, they feel threatened when they come into contact with a woman who is prettier than
they are, and this is the reason why, in line 12, Debs mother says: She didnt mean it as a
compliment; its more of an accusation.

Line 40 demonstrates that Americans think English is the language of the world and that
they do not need to learn a second one. It is a fact that English is spoken worldwide by billions
of people and this is the reason why people whose mother tongue is English feel they do not
need any other one wherever they go they are going to be understood (Friedman, 2015).
When in line 40, Deb says llamo in Spanish she feels proud of herself and looks for
recognition for the effort she has made and the knowledge she has. For her, knowing some
words in Spanish is more than enough. In continuation to Debs attempt to speak Spanish, line
58 displays an important aspect of Mexican culture: that they are always trying to help people as
much as possible (Butcher, 2010). Flor is really happy when she sees that Deb is trying so hard to
say her name in the correct way. Flor does not give up and keeps repeating it so that Deb can get
the right pronunciation.

In the United States, the phrase I love you, spoken in line 73, is one of the most
common phrases among people. When saying these words, it does not mean that people truly
love each other, but it has become so common that Americans say it as they might say hello or
goodbye as Deb demonstrates in this line (Lawlis, 2015). As it is explained in dialogue 3 of
this paper, saying I love you in Mexico is completely different.

In line 91 Flor is finally told that she has the job as a housekeeper. Immediately after
knowing this she puts her hands together as if praying. With this gesture Flor is giving thanks to
God for providing her with this opportunity. Mexico has a very strong catholic culture (Donoso,
J. & Donoso, J., 2014).

Non-verbal Communication
A number of forms of non-verbal communication are present in this dialogue. To study these
cues, the analysis will be divided into kinesics and proxemics, facial expressions and hand
gestures.

The roles of kinesics - the movement of our body parts, and proxemics - the distance
between the interlocutors, are displayed in several excerpts of this dialogue. In line 2, although
Flor does not understand what Deb is saying because she does not know English, from Debs
hand gestures Flor can guess that she is inviting them to sit down. In line 3, Deb uses her hands
in order to help her words convey the message. On this occasion, she is suggesting that Flor
should put aside the item that she is holding. Flor understands the hands movements and does
so. In line 7, the cousin points at Flor when Deb asks her, Who am I interviewing? No words
are needed for her to understand that Flor is the person that is going to be interviewed. Line 16
shows when Deb helps supports her words with gestures when she is introducing her family,
pointing at her daughter first and then at her mother. Once again, in line 19, Deb uses her hands
to get her message across. She is telling Flor and her cousin to come out of the sun because it is
really hot, and she moves her hands towards them indicating that they should move closer to her
so that they can be in the shade. The same happens in line 22 when she shows them the sun
lotion and Flor understands she has been offered sun lotion to protect herself from the sun.
Finally, in line 27, the same happens when Deb offers Lemonade. Flor does not need to know
any of the words to be able to understand what Deb is doing so she turns to the movement of
the hands to comprehend the message.

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When it comes to the importance of facial expressions, in line 13, Debs facial expression
shows that her mother has embarrassed her while in line 32, Debs facial expression reveals
surprise when the cousin asks her about her job. Together, her intonation, pitch level, and face
express that she did not expect that kind of personal question. She is not the one being
interviewed. Towards the end of the dialogue, line 55, Debs facial expression shows she is upset
because everyone is laughing. She is the only one who is not pronouncing Flors name correctly.
In the case of Flor, line 85 is when she says one thousand dollars and she realises that it was
not a good idea from the facial expressions of the other participants. They are totally surprised
but not in a good way. Her way of solving the problem is by saying: Im kidding! and this tactic
actually works.

Lastly, the importance of the hand gestures used in different cultures is shown in line 86
when the grandmother makes the gesture of the number six and a half with her fingers. The
cousin understands the sign and says six hundred and fifty dollars, and by doing so she secures
the job for Flor.

Paralinguistic Features
The paralinguistic features in this dialogue are demonstrated in the following lines and they deal
with the tone, the pitch and the speed of the words when conversing among other aspects. In
line 5, the cousin starts talking by using the interjections mmm, uhhh. These reveal that she
does not know where or how to start the conversation; she is nervous.

In reference to the intonation and the pitch, and the meaning conveyed through those
cues, line 32 indicates an elevation of the pitch and of the intonation, nearly shouting, expressing
a bad surprise. Line 47, through loud intonation and very high volume, Flor wants to pronounce
her name very clearly so the rest can repeat it better. She puts all her strength and passion onto
it. In line 92, a high level of intonation and pitch by the participants show their joy and happiness
by shouting and laughing.

In terms of turn-taking, in line 6, there is an overlapping conversation at this moment of


the conversation. Deb talks so much and so fast that does not allow the others to speak. This is
not typically American; it is more of a feature of Debs personal characteristics. She is a very
stressed and active woman in the movie.

Repetition of the word Do (in line 31) The cousin does not want to interrupt Deb,
so this repetition means she is waiting for the right moment to make the question. This refers to
Mexican politeness of turn-taking (Guide, M. & Guide, M. (2016).

Whispering as another paralinguistic feature indicates that the cousin is telling something
she does not want all the participants to hear, as shown in line 39.

Toward the middle of the dialogue, from line 40 to 65, the pronunciation of the name
Flor by the American mother shows how difficult and important learning how to pronounce a
new language well is. The letter r in Spanish is the most difficult one to pronounce for English
speakers (Estudio Sampere, 2014).

Linguistic Issues
The words used in a conversation also convey meaning and inform the interlocutors about the
kind of conversation is taking place. In line 19, for instance, the term wanna is a colloquial word
used in informal situations. The use of this word gives the spectator the idea that the interview is,
somehow, semiformal; the scene takes place in the backyard of the house, in a very familiar

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atmosphere. Furthermore, in line 24, Buga buga is a made up word. Only Deb understands
what it is. Here the importance of sharing the same experiences and context to understand each
other is shown. It is possible that another American woman would have known what she meant
by buga buga but Flor and her cousin had no idea.

At a later stage in this dialogue, in line 36, colloquial Mexican language is used between
the cousins to express their familiarity and how relaxed they are; they even make jokes.

Results and Analysis of Dialogue 2.


Appendix 2 (page 20) shows the second dialogue analysed divided into lines that will be used to
study the meaning behind words, non-verbal cues and cultural background; it has been
transcribed directly from the dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish (Brooks,
et al., 2005).

Context
Flor is worried about her daughters education. She does not know if she should send her to a
private school as Deb recommends. Flor does not want her daughter to become a spoiled
American girl as a result of attending an expensive school. She decides to ask the American
father for his opinion.

Participants
The participants of this dialogue are Flor whose English is now much better and she is able to
maintain a long conversation and the American Dad. English is the only language used in this
dialogue. The verbal communication is successful by itself; however, the context and non-verbal
aspects play a significant role in helping both of them to understand each other.

Cultural Aspects
The cultural aspects of this dialogue are outlined below with reference to specific lines. As
previously explained in the analysis of the first dialogue, Mexican politeness is characteristic
along the movie. In line 1, Flor uses may when asking a question. This is a very polite way of
formulating a question, as well as using apologies in line 12 to demonstrate Mexican politeness
and respect (Mexico - Cultural Etiquette - e Diplomat, 2016).

Family ties and relationships are another cultural aspect that defines the societal
expectations in a given place. In lines 13 and 15, for instance, Flor is not used to hear a man
talking about his children as the American father is doing. In Mexico, this kind of talk is more
usually heard among the mothers and not the fathers. Flor is really surprised to hear the father
speak in this way (Oliveira, 2013). By analysing this dialogue from the American point of view, in
line 10, Flor uses kind words when referring to Bernie. For the American father, this highlights a
great difference between Flor and Deb. He has never heard nice words from Debs mouth about
their daughter; however, Flor treats Bernie as if she was her own daughter and, for her and for
Mexican mothers in general, daughters and sons are the most important people of their lives
(Guide, M. & Guide, M. (2016).

In continuation of the topic about family, the role of the parents when it comes to the
education of their children might be diverse between countries. In line 23 of this dialogue, Flor
has doubts about sending her daughter to a private school in the United States because she does
not want Cristina (her daughter) to become one of the spoiled and materialistic girls that usually
attend this kind of school. She wants her to remain humble. According to Little et al., 2012,
materialistic and shallow are adjectives that, in some occasions, are associated to upper class girls
in the United States.

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As for other cultural aspects visible in this excerpt, in line 19, is it shown the meaning
behind giving a compliment. This action could somehow be related to the invasion of personal
space, or to getting to a closer relationship between the participants. This cultural behaviour is
shared by both cultures (Wilson, 2015).

In lines 27 and 29 the important role of silence in a conversation is perceived. The use of
pauses can mean different things depending on who uses them and the moment when they are
used. Some cultures make more use of pauses than others (Kurt Smith, 2014). Here, silence
conveys all the feelings that the participants do not dare to say out loud: understanding,
admiration, and love.

Non-verbal Communication
The main non-verbal cues analysed in this dialogue are related to the role of oculesics, facial
expressions and proxemics.

When analysing the movements made through the eyes of the participants - oculesics,
line 13 shows the expression a picture is worth a thousand words (The American Heritage
Dictionary of the English Language, 2000). In this scene, the way in which the American father
looks at Flor conveys all the love he feels for her. This scene is followed by what is shown from
lines 26 to 30 when the eye contact that is maintained between both characters erases the need of
words. They are telling everything they feel to each other through their eyes. In this occasion,
oculesics is helped by the facial expressions made by the father, shown in lines 16 and 17, when
the wind moves Flors skirt and it makes her look sexy. This is the reason why he says, Could you
get out of the wind? He cannot handle seeing her look that attractive. The situation makes it even
harder for him to hide his feelings.

On another note, but continuing with the role of oculesics, Flor makes use of her eyes in
line 21 when she looks at the American father, asking for his approval regarding the word odd.
She does this because it is the first time she has used it.

In reference to proxemics, in lines 4 and 5, Flor walks away from the house without
saying a word. She is acting nervous and strange. From this action it is possible to guess she is
trying to get away from the house because she wants to talk about something confidential.

Paralinguistic Features
The paralinguistic features present in this dialogue stress the relevant role of the pitch to give
meaning to words. In line 7, the elevation of the pitch emphasises the fact that the father knows
what he is talking about. In line 9, the intonation the father is using shows sarcasm; whereas in
line 13, along with his facial expressions show that he is upset. Line 14 states Hey! Hey!
showing that repetition and elevation of the tone of voice together mean the wish to catch Flors
attention. In line 25, high tone of voice and immediate response show that Flor does not have
any doubts regarding the decision to send her daughter to a private school; however, in the
following line (26), elevation of the pitch shows that she is acting nervously and is
uncomfortable; she wants to leave.

In continuation with the changes in tone and voice, the role of pauses is significant in
this excerpt. Line 3 shows that the pauses convey how nervous Flor is. Nevertheless, the pause
in line 17 is introduced to change topics. These two meanings are different from the one seen in
lines 27 and 29 where the dialogue is full of pauses and missing words. Verbal communication

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fails but non-verbal communication reaches its highest level of common understanding. Silence
and eye contact show how madly in love they are with each other.

In reference to the intonation given to the words said, the meaning behind those can be
very diverse as explained in the next lines. Line 8 mentions: I dont know what to do being a
statement instead of a question. However, it has the meaning of a question; she is asking for his
opinion indirectly. In line 11, faltering voice is used. The father is really surprised to hear
someone saying such nice things about his daughter. He does not have words to express how
happy he feels. And lastly, in line 21, the intonation is changed to make a question out of a
starting statement because she is asking for approval.

Linguistic Issues
The linguistic issues in this dialogue are mainly focused on the learning process of a new
language. In this case Flor is progressing in her performance as a beginner English speaker and
this is shown through the words she uses. In line 3, she still makes small grammatical mistakes
but the father understands perfectly what she wants to say. The same happens in line 12 when
Flor makes a mistake in the use of the verbal tense, but because she uses the verb in the correct
context he knows what she means. Independently of the mistakes she still makes, lines 21 and 23
show how Flors English is getting much better; so is it that she is able to form complex
sentences and to have a long and serious conversation conducted completely in English.

Line 7 conveys an important lesson observed throughout the entire movie; if Flor paid
attention only to the words said she would not know what he was talking about; however, once
again, the context and the shared experiences allow the interaction to succeed.

Results and Analysis of Dialogue 3.


Appendix 3 (page 22) shows the third dialogue analysed divided into lines that will be used to
examine the meaning behind words, non-verbal cues and cultural background; it has been
transcribed directly from the dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish (Brooks,
et al., 2005).

Context
The father has just found out that his wife Deb has been cheating on him for a while. He bumps
into Flor and takes her to his restaurant. It is nighttime. He is going to cook for her. Cooking
makes him feel better, as does being with Flor. In the case of Flor, she is really annoyed by the
fact that Deb is trying to behave as though she were Cristinas mother. Flor feels that Deb wants
to separate Cristina from her. She is determined to quit her job in the house.

Participants
The interlocutors in this dialogue are the American father and Flor. This dialogue takes place at
the end of the movie. By this time Flor can be considered fluent in English, being able to
maintain long conversations and to talk about any topic. The fact of using the same language
does not avoid the need for context and non-verbal communication in order for those
interactions to become successful.

Cultural Aspects
Family and relationships are the main cultural topics shown in this third and last excerpt. The
roles of men and women in both cultures are different; for instance, in line 2, in Mexican culture,
women are the ones who usually cook at home. This is the reason why Flor is really surprised
and happy when she sees the American father preparing dinner for her at the restaurant (Mexico
- Cultural Etiquette - e Diplomat, 2016). Furthermore, for Mexican people, family is the most

10 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
important aspect of their lives. Nothing has a higher priority than their relatives (Ting-Toomey &
Chung, 2005). At this moment of the conversation, when she is so happy because she is next to
the man she loves, she thinks about her daughter. She gives priority to her daughters happiness
over her own; consequently, she thinks that the right thing to do is to leave the restaurant and to
stop daydreaming (line 42).

In regards of romantic relationships, line 36 shows that in both cultures falling in love
means dreaming awake or daydreaming. This is what they feel at this moment (Hayes, 2012).
Line 46 brings back something discussed in the first dialogue of this analysis, the phrase I love
you is a very important one in Mexican society, in contrast to the case of American people
(Wiemann, 2009); and this is the reason why it is not often said but in very special occasions and
to very few people.

Being grateful is another Mexican cultural aspect shown in this excerpt. Mexicans are
very thankful, especially when it comes to the situation when someone has done them a big
favour or produced a big surprise for them (Mexico - Cultural Etiquette - e Diplomat, 2016). The
American father has cooked an amazing dinner for her and she thanks him several times, and
very effusively (line 18).

Non-verbal Communication
The non-verbal communicative forms shown in this third dialogue mainly focus on facial
expressions, kinesics and proxemics. Starting with the role of facial expressions, line 9 shows
when the American father remembers about his wife cheating on him, expressing his deep
sadness. Whereas line 13 and 14 show moments between the American father and Flor; their
smiles and laughs are better than words in conveying how happy they are and how much they are
enjoying each others company. She remains seated, looking at him, and admiring him while he is
cooking. Her facial expression and look convey her feelings.

In reference to kinesics and the movement of the body parts, line 16 refers to the gesture
Flor makes with her hands, putting them on her stomach to show that she is full after eating the
whole dinner. He understands it. This is a common gesture in both cultures. Then, she touches
her hair (line 17). This could be a universal sign, or at least one that is shared by the two cultures
in the movie. When a woman touches her hair and smiles it is because she likes the situation she
is in and the person she is with (Kuhnke, 2015). In line 24, Flor places her hand under her chin,
showing that she is paying a lot of attention to what he is saying.

This dialogue is the most romantic excerpt of the movie, so it is that proxemics (the
distance between the two participants) play a significant role to understand the meaning behind
the communicative cues. In line 27, Flor and the father draw closer and closer together until they
kiss, a gesture that, in both cultures, means that you like the other person (Kirshenbaum, 2011).
In line 41, he is going to kiss her but she moves away. She feels they are not doing the right
thing. And line 48, toward the end of the scene, Flor stands up and runs. As they say, they
should go back to real life. They have to think about the responsibilities they have and stop
daydreaming. She does not want to leave but she thinks of her daughter. She is trying to escape
as quickly as possible from the difficult situation.

The role of haptics is shown in line 4 when the father takes her by the shoulder, showing
how much he cares about her and letting her know that he is by her side.

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Verbal and non-verbal communication (oculesics and facial expressions) create one of
the most romantic scenes of the movie when he looks at her while saying Its just you are dead
crazy gorgeous! (line 25).

Paralinguistic Features
The paralinguistic features of this dialogue are as follows. In line 4, the sighs the father uses
along with his low tone of voice show that when he says yeah he means no. This confusion is
also shown in line 18 when he talks fast and in a low tone of voice, which seems to be for
himself. He is thinking out loud and not addressing her in this particular moment. Not only the
tone of voice but also interjections convey misunderstandings as it is the case of line 44 when
Flor says uff since she does not know what to do or to say.

In line 8, Flor elevates her pitch symbolising that she wants to be heard and wants to
stop him from drinking. This loud tone continues in lines 28 and 29 when both characters are
talking very loudly, almost shouting. They are trying to convince themselves that they have to
return to reality. They are trying to wake themselves up from their daydream by shouting. In
contrast with the previous paralinguistic feature, line 26 shows how both characters use very
nervous voices because they are becoming very close to each other. The voice, now soft and
unclear, can also show feelings.

The existence of a parallelism between the question and the answer shows a mutual
agreement (line 32 and 33).

Linguistic Issues
Concerning the linguistic issues in the third dialogue, and taking into consideration that it is at
the end of the movie, it is important to continue analysing the progress Flor makes learning
English as a second language and how she shows it through the words and expressions she uses.

Line 1 and 30 show this progress by using a complex structure. By the end of the movie
Flors English is reaching an advanced level, shown through complex grammatical phrasal
structures and the use of colloquial expressions, such as damn, in order to emphasise what she
is saying.

Even though she has learned quite fast, she still makes some small mistakes. In line 3,
when she said, visit she means, to hang out. (The reason why she uses this verb is because
earlier in the movie the father had tried to explain to her what hang out meant by comparing it
with visiting someone). In Line 6, the reason why she does not understand what the father is
saying in line 5 is because he has used a lot of colloquial expressions that Flor is yet not familiar
with. Colloquialisms and idioms are somehow hard to teach through textbooks when learning a
second language. It is necessary to live surrounded by native speakers in order to learn them; and
it takes time (Oxford Royale Academy, 2014). And finally, in line 34, she does not use the correct
grammar because she translates directly from Spanish. When learning a second language,
translating directly from the mother tongue often leads to making mistakes (Zheng, 2015).

Conclusion
The world that we live in today is highly interconnected and people can travel from one place to
another more easily than was the case decades ago. Thus, the probability of bumping into a
person from another country is very high. The analysis of the main three intercultural dialogues
and scenes in the movie Spanglish have shown that to reach a successful interaction between
people from different cultures a shared language is very important but not sufficient. Knowing
the cultural background of each participant, being able to understand the non-verbal

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communicative cues made by the interlocutors, and comprehending the context shared by the
interlocutors are factors that influence the success of a cross-cultural encounter.

The two cultural groups analysed in this paper are North Americans and Mexicans.
Concerning the subtitle of the movie (A movie where emotions do not need translation) (Brooks, et al.,
2005), the results of this study show that both misunderstandings and successful interactions
between the characters were due to the similarities and differences in cultural backgrounds. The
fact of not sharing the same linguistic code showed that emotions across cultures are conveyed
through non-verbal communication. In paying attention only to the words spoken by the
characters, it would not be possible to comprehend their emotions and feelings fully. Their facial
expressions, the way they look (oculesics), the way they move (kinesics), and the changes in their
pitch (paralanguage), among others, were the factors that allowed them to understand each other.
On most occasions, non-verbal communication needs to be correctly interpreted when the
interlocutors come from different cultures since it can lead to cultural noise. However, there are
some other feelings, such as love and respect, which are also conveyed through non-verbal cues
that are the same across cultures, in this case, among North Americans and Mexicans. What this
movie truly conveys is that communication is not only based on words; in fact, 93% of every
communicative act is non-verbal communication (The Human Instruction Manual, 2013,
min.1:21). Everything that surrounds all those words is what gives the real meaning to the verbal
interaction and allows us to understand how the other person truly feels.

Limitations of the Study and Recommendations for Future Research


This paper has analysed the similarities and differences found when North Americans and
Mexicans interact with one another without sharing the same linguistic code. All the examples
given are taken from the movie Spanglish; thus, it can be argued that the conversations are
dependent on the script. It would be advisable to analyse the same cultures in other contexts, in
real situations, and among different people (age, careers, backgrounds, etc.) to find out if, upon
arrival in the United States, Mexicans share the same cultural patterns as shown in the movie
when interacting with Americans.

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Appendix 1

The Interview: The following dialogue has been transcribed directly from the dialogue starting on
minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish (Brooks, et al., 2005). (= means overlapping conversation.
1. Deb: Just sit right here. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).
2. Flor: [Sits down. She did not understand the words Deb said, but she understood the gesture
she made.]
3. Deb: Just... Just... Just toss it. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
4. Flor: [She had a toy in her hands and did not know what to do with it. Once more, because
of the gesture Deb made, she understood she should throw it somewhere.]
5. Cousin: Mmm ... uhh ... She is my cousin. She has been here for a while and she understands some but
doesnt really speak English, but ... well ... anyway, uhh she lives in one of the apartments I manage.
(Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
6. Deb: =Uh... [whispering] Who am I interviewing? [face of confusion] (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
7. Cousin: Ah! Her! [Pointing at Flor] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
8. Deb: [Staring at Flor] You are gorgeous! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
9. Flor: [She knows Deb is saying something about her because she is staring at her, but does
not understand exactly what the American mom is saying.]
10. Deb: Youre gorgeous!! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).
11. Cousin: =[translating] Que... Que ests muy bonita. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
12. Grandmother: She didnt mean it as a compliment; its more of an accusation. (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
13. Deb: Mother!! [Face of embarrassment] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
14. Grandmother: Go ahead. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks,
et al., 2005).

15 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
15. Daughter: [The only one who laughs. Flor does not understand what is going on and the
cousin does not want to be disrespectful.]
16. Deb: Im sorry. This is my daughter Bernie [pointing at her daughter] and... and and... and my
mother... Evelyn Wright. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).
17. Grandmother: Evelyn. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).
18. Cousin: [translating] sta es la hija Bernice y la mama Evelyn Wright. (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
19. Deb: =Do you guys wanna come in out of the sun? [moving her hands towards her indicating
movement towards her side] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
20. Cousin: No no no no... estamos bien aqu en el sol [addressing to Flor. She does not translate
the sentence literally, but indicates to Flor what Deb said] (Part of dialogue starting on minute
07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
21. Deb: =Sun screen? I got a seventy here. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
22. Flor: No no, a m me gusta el sol gracias (Translation: No no, I like the sun, thanks.) [Taking
off her jacket] (She understands what Deb meant because she saw her offering the sun
screen) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
23. Cousin: [Translating what Flor just said] Yes! She loves the sun. (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
24. Deb: Oh! Im wearing the same sweater [talking to Flor]. Its a good buga buga. [moving her
hands upwards] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al.,
2005).
25. Cousin: Que tiene el mismo sweater, que es buen buga buga (The intonation and her face show
that she does not know what a buga buga is) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
26. Deb: Lemonade, please. You wanna take some? [Taking the jar of lemonade] (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
27. Flor: (She does not need translation for this question because of the gesture of Deb taking
the jar, she understands what she is asking) No no! No gracias! Si est bien, gracias.
(Translation: No no, no thank you! Im ok, thanks.) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of
the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
28. Deb: Ok Lets just talk! [moving her hands addressing to both Mexican women] (Part of
dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
29. Cousin: [translating] Que platiquemos ... (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
30. Deb: Ive got two children and my husband is a chef, a top chef. [Moving her hands upwards
conveying superiority]. That makes me something [indescribable face] Anyway, he works nights,
so... (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
31. Cousin: =Do... do... you work? [addressing to Deb] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of
the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
32. Deb: Yeah! No! Not right now! Why? How do you know to ask that?? [Offensive look]. Well...
its ok, I can talk about it. I worked for a commercial design company up until four months ago; and it went
downsides; it just happened, but now Im a full time mom! Gulp! (Part of dialogue starting on minute
07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005). [interjection of dislike]
33. Daughter: Double gulp! [double dislike] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
34. Grandmother: [laughs out loud]

16 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
35. Deb: Anyway, I have two children: my son Georgie is 9, Bernie, you know... and I like the house to be
like me. You know, Im very loose and meticulous, you know, at the same time. But its all about first names
and closeness here. Let her know [addressing to the cousin to translate to Flor]. Absolutely, but I do
care about the place. Im so sorry Im not leaving you time to translate. (Part of dialogue starting on minute
07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
36. Cousin: Ha! [fake/ironic laugh] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
37. Deb: [makes a gesture with her hands to the cousin meaning to go ahead, to translate]
38. Flor: Ha [fake/ironic laugh] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
39. Cousin: Esta vieja est rarsima... [whispering] Que tiene dos nios... (Translation: This woman
is so weird She has two children ) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
40. Deb: Whats your name? [addressing to Flor] Llamo, its one of my fave Spanish words.
41. Flor: (She understands the question without translation). Flor Moreno. (Part of dialogue starting
on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
42. Deb: Floor...[with her American accent] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
43. Flor: mmm... Flor! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al.,
2005).
44. Deb: Floor! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
45. Flor: No! Florrrrr! [rolling the r] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
46. Deb: Floorrrrrr [Trying to role the r but still wrongly pronouncing the double oo
instead of only one o] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).
47. Flor: FLORRRRRRRRRR!!! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
48. Daughter: =It means flower right? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
49. Flor: Yes! [immediate reaction because she knows that word in English] (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
50. Cousin: Flower! yes! [Voice in the back] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
51. Deb: Floorrrrrrr!! Where I walk on, right? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
52. Flor: (She did not understand what Deb said because she does not know that word in
English. She continues repeating her name) Flor! [Elevating the pitch]
53. Grandmother: Florrr!! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).
54. All together except Deb: Florrr!! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
55. Deb: [pissed off] Was there some school of the ear that Im flanking out right now? (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
56. Flor: [addressing to her cousin] Mira... (Translation: Look...) (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
57. Cousin: Djalo ah ya... (Translation: Let it go...) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
58. Flor: No! ndale! Que enrolle la lengua y luego la suelte. A los americanos, la r es una letra que les
cuesta mucho, pero me da tanto gusto que se esfuerce, porque la mayora de la gente ni siquiera lo intenta.
ndale! (Translation: No! Come on! She has to roll her tongue and then let it go. The r is

17 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
a very difficult letter for American people, but Im so happy she is making the effort; most
people dont even give it a try. Come on!) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
59. Deb: What did she say? [asking the cousin for a translation of what Flor just said]
60. Cousin: She says if you curl your tongue and then let it be loose, then youll get it; and its really hard for
Americans; and its great that you try so hard because most people wouldnt bother. (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
61. Deb: She gets me... (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al.,
2005).
62. Flor: Qu? (Translation: What?) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
63. Cousin: Que la entiendes. (Translation: You understand her) (Part of dialogue starting on minute
07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
64. Deb: FLORRR!!! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al.,
2005).
65. Flor: PERFECTO!! [All very happy laughing and clapping] (Part of dialogue starting on minute
07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
66. Deb: See... what you just did for me is what kids need! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
67. Cousin: =[translating simultaneously] Que lo que acabas de hacer es lo que los nios necesitan.
(Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
68. Deb: Patience and encouragement. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
69. Cousin: [Translating] Paciencia, que los apoyen. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
70. Deb: Alright, money. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al.,
2005).
71. Cousin: [Translating] El dinero. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
72. Daughter: Goodbye! Looking forward to seeing you [addressing to Flor] (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
73. Deb: I love you. [Addressing to her daughter without even looking at her or giving
importance to these words] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks,
et al., 2005).
74. Deb: So the job is six days a week. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
75. Cousin: [Translating] El trabajo es seis das a la semana. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00
of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
76. Deb: Seven, eight, twelve hours... (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
77. Cousin: [Translating] Eight, twelve hours (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
78. Deb: Housekeeping, driving the kids (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
79. Cousin: [Translating] Cuidar de la casa, llevar a los nios (Part of dialogue starting on minute
07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
80. Deb: How much do you want? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
81. Flor: Ah no no! Lo que usted diga. [She understand that question and says: Ah, no no!
Whatever you say, making the gesture with her hands letting Deb to speak] (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).

18 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
82. Cousin: [Translating] Whatever you say. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
83. Deb: No! No! This is a very important question! [Knocking the table to emphasise] because if you
ask for too little means you dont value yourself. I mean, if you ask for too much youre taking advantage, so?
(Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
84. Cousin: =[Translating] Si pides mucho no te valoras y si pides mucho te ests pasando de lanza.
(Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
85. Flor: One thousand dollars [First English words said by Flor.][The face of Deb is totally
confused] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
86. Flor: Qu no! Qu es broma! hahaha! (Translation: No! Im joking! Hahaha! ) (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
87. Cousin: [Translating] No! She is kidding! [All laughing] [The grandmother makes a gesture
with her hands, hiding herself from Deb, indicating 600 showing 6 fingers] (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
88. Cousin: Six hundred and fifty dollars! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
89. Deb: Welcome to the family!! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
90. Cousin: Qu s! !Qu s! [Addressing to Flor telling her she has got the job] (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
91. Flor: Ay! hahaha! Ay! [putting her hands together, like when someone is praying, giving
thanks to God] [She stands up to shake hands with Deb, as Americans reach an agreement]
(Part of dialogue starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
92. Deb: [She stands up and instead of shaking hands, she kisses her on the lips] Come on! I
wanna show you the rest! (Minute 11:29. Almost 5 minutes of conversation) (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 07:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).

Appendix 2

Dialogue: The following dialogue has been transcribed directly from the dialogue starting on minute
75:00 of the movie Spanglish (Brooks, et al., 2005). (= means overlapping conversation.
1. Flor: May I talk with you? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks,
et al., 2005).
2. Dad: Me? Yes! I spoke with Deb; Shell be back soon, if you need something. (Part of dialogue starting
on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
3. Flor: I need really talk is ok? No? [She looks confused and not sure if she is doing the
right thing] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
4. Dad: Ok! Ay ay ay [Flor starts walking without saying anything and he follows her. They
get up to the shore of the beach] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
5. Dad: Tell me, you got me a little nervous here. Are we ever gonna stop? [She keeps walking without
saying anything and she does not stop walking] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
6. Flor: You know about Cristina (her daughter) and your private school? (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
7. Dad: Ohhh That! They did! [Referring to his wife, as though she had finally convinced the
girl Cristina that the private school is a good one] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
8. Flor: I dont know what to do. [Either sending her to the private school or not] (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).

19 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
9. Dad: Dont ask me. I worry about my kids going there. I mean you get Bernice in a decent school and its
show how great she is, right? [Using sarcasm] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
10. Flor: Ha! You dont have to worry about Bernice. Nothing is going to change that heart. (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
11. Dad: Yeah thanks. Its just great to hear someone to say that out loud. Hard to explain. (Part of
dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005). [He is thinking Flor is
the opposite of his wife Deb. Deb does not value her daughter because she is not the
prettiest or the thinnest. Deb does not see inside people. There are important differences in
cultural values in both mothers. The dad can see them.]
12. Flor: Im sorry I take you here. (Incorrect tense used, referring to the past) I make too much of
this, right? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
13. Dad: No!! You have the right to worry about this, this is your job, these are the decisions. Worrying about
your children is sanity! And being that sane, the way you are can drive you nuts! Someone like you, Im sorry.
You think you are at some crossroads You are, you are (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00
of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005). [The way he is looking at her explains better than his
words what he is feeling for her] [They stare at each other for some seconds without saying a
word but saying everything at the same time]
14. Dad: Hey hey! I wish I could help you more (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
15. Flor: I never know a man who can put himself in my place like you do. (Not perfect English but
completely comprehensible). How did you become that man? (Another cultural difference
between men in Mexico and the United States in terms of sexism) (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
16. Dad: Ha ha ha! I dont know [The wind moves her hair and her clothes and he sees her as
so sexy] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
17. Dad: Could you get out of the wind? Sit down! I didnt mean to I wanna be helpful! It has to be hard
being a widow, doing it on your own (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
18. Flor: [Upset] Why do you think I am a widow? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
19. Dad: I guess I thought that would be the only way a guy would leave you. Agh agh agh [Clearing his
voice, universal sign] [Both of them laugh] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
20. Dad: [Changing the topic because it has became an uncomfortable situation] So ok Are
you gonna send her? [Going back to the initial topic about Cristina and the private school]
(Brooks, et al., 2005
21. Flor: I dont know. I think if I do, one of two things happens either she will be odd? [Asking for
his approval concerning that words existence] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
22. Dad: Odd, yes. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al.,
2005).
23. Flor: Or she will make herself the same as them. [Referring to spoiled little American girls]
(Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
24. Dad: I thought the same way about my kid going there. But, between odd and the same. You prefer
odd, dont you? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
25. Flor: Ha! Yes! [Immediate response] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
26. [They keep quiet for some seconds, staring at each other romantic scene. Suddenly she
stands up and leaves]

20 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
27. Flor: Thank you! Good night! I go to sleep! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
28. Dad: Hey! You speaking English is (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
29. Flor: What? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
30. Dad: Nothing [Meaning completely the opposite] (Great example of non-verbal gestures)
(Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
31. Dad: Nice meeting you! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 75:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).

Appendix 3

Dialogue: The following dialogue has been transcribed directly from the dialogue starting on minute
96:00 of the movie Spanglish (Brooks, et al., 2005). (= means overlapping conversation.
1. Flor: Ive never seen your place (Incorrect grammar: have vs had.) Very perfect! (Part of
dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
2. Dad: Im gonna cook for you. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
3. Flor: Ey ey ey ey, Im glad to visit with you (Meaning to hang out). If I just left the job and never
spoke with you. It would have been sin? You understand? (This is a confusing sentence because
of the mistakes in the language) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
4. Dad: [sighs] Yeah [Meaning no], ay ay ay ay. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of
the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
5. [He takes her by the shoulder]
6. Dad: My hand is the only sane part of my body; every other part wants to jump off the cliff. That is for
now. I already broke my record as a fool. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
7. Flor: I dont understand. [Many English colloquial expressions that she has not yet learnt]
(Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
8. Dad: Oh! Its me; Im not making any sense. But I can get you fed. You want a drink? (Part of
dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
9. Flor: No! Wait! I dont think you should either. [Knowing what happens when people get
drunk] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
10. Dad: Oh! Excuse me, because I think if I had the equipment Id inject vodka. (Part of dialogue
starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
11. Flor: I think its important we eat clear. [Meaning having a clear mind while being together]
[He leaves the glass and both start laughing] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the
movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
12. Flor: Its very good you didnt ask why. [Feeling relieved] (Part of dialogue starting on minute
96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
13. Dad: Everything is real, right? [Making sure he is not daydreaming] (Part of dialogue starting
on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
14. Flor: I wouldnt say it so well. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
15. Dad: Oh ok Lets get this going here. [Meaning start cooking] [She remains seated,
contemplating him while he is cooking, lost in thought] (Part of dialogue starting on minute
96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).

21 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
16. Flor: Beautiful! [He gives her the plate with the cooked food] [Both eat and smile] (Part
of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
17. Flor: [She makes the gesture of putting her hands on her stomach to show that she is
full]
18. Dad: [He understands what she means] Thats it, thats it for you. I keep thinking I should tell
you what happened to me tonight [Referring to the argument with his wife because of her
being unfaithful to him]. But I dont want to spoil this. I dont want to spoil this! [He does not
want to ruin the great moment they are having together] [She touches her ear and her
hair. This is a universal sign that a woman is enjoying the moment and likes the other
person] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
19. Flor: I will remember every taste. Forever. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
20. Dad: Im very glad you liked it! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
21. Flor: It was something watching you [She loved it when he was cooking for her] (Part of
dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
22. Dad: Oh well last thing you wanna hear is somebody going up on your looks (Part of
dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
23. Flor: Dont be crazy! Tell me every detail! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
24. Dad: Ok ok, I will. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).
25. Flor: [She places her hand under her chin, looking very attentive to what he is going to
say]
26. Dad: They should name a gender after you. Looking at you will never do it. Staring is the only way
that makes any sense, and trying not to blink so you wont miss anything and all of that and
you are you. I mean look forgive me. Its just you are dead crazy gorgeous! So much Im considering
looking at you again before we finish up here. [He is looking down as he says this because he is
embarrassed by the feelings he is conveying to her] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00
of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
27. Flor: Soon, please! [She starts to be really nervous, so she stands up and moves away a
little] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
28. Dad: [He stands up and gets closer to her. Then, he kisses her!]
29. Flor; [She stops and separates from him] Ey! We cant, we cant! (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
30. Dad: I know, I know! We cant do anything that brings us any kind of satisfaction or release! But Im
still having a great time! [Shouting] [The scene changes the location. Now, instead of being
in the kitchen of the restaurant they are in the main room, both sitting on a couch,
embracing each other] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks,
et al., 2005).
31. Flor: Why is everything so damn confusing? (She is starting to learn colloquial English) Tic, tac,
tic, tac, [moving her fingers] am I getting crazy too? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00
of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
32. Dad: Id say my mind has evaporated. Feels pretty good. (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00
of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
33. Flor: Like happy? (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et
al., 2005).
34. Dad: Like happy. [Both laugh] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).

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35. Flor: You think that we last? (Incorrect grammar. Its a literal translation from the
Spanish: Crees que duraremos?) (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
36. Dad: [First nodding with his head, then hesitating making the hand gesture that indicates
so so] Im just kidding! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
37. Flor: I understand what you mean. [Sighs] That is getting late. The responsibilities have entered your
brain. Ay! Dont hide that from me. Dont hide that from me, please! [Meaning his feelings] (Part
of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
38. Dad: Yeah, thank you! Youre right! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie
Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
39. Flor: Yeah(Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al.,
2005).
40. Dad: I wont. You are great! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
41. Flor: You are great too! (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks,
et al., 2005).
42. Dad: [He is going to kiss her]
43. Flor: Ay! No no! There are some mistakes you cannot risk when you have children, please. I have to
go. (Family is the most important thing in Mexican culture) (Part of dialogue starting on
minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
44. Dad: No! Im not! Im not! Stay on where you stay! Stay here! (Part of dialogue starting on minute
96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al., 2005).
45. Flor: Uff
46. Dad: Once you step on that floor there are too many brain cells. Dont be in such a hurry. That floor is
going to bring us to life (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks,
et al., 2005).
47. Flor: I love you. [Really meaning those words, not used in the way that Deb used them
in Dialogue 1] (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish) (Brooks, et al.,
2005).
48. Dad: What? Cause I (Part of dialogue starting on minute 96:00 of the movie Spanglish)
(Brooks, et al., 2005).
49. Flor: [She stands up and leaves, running]

23 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
p-ISSN: 1694-2620
e-ISSN: 1694-2639
Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 24-35, IJHSS

The Abu Dhabi school model: Effective delivery of the


curriculum
Dr. Tommi Eranpalo
Abu Dhabi Education Council

Cynthia Jorgenson, ABD


Abu Dhabi Education Council

Dr. M. Lynn Woolsey


Emirates College for Advanced Education

(This study conducted under protection of Abu Dhabi Education Council Research Department
and Professor Masood Badri.)

Abstract

This pilot study used Discourse Analysis to investigate five different curriculum delivery
approaches using the Abu Dhabi School model curriculum as the foundation in Cycle 1 schools
(grades 1 5). Participants included 32 teachers from different nationalities. Results of the
Discourse Analysis indicated that most teachers appreciated the combination of several different
research-based strategies for the delivery of curriculum. All respondents thought also that shared
planning between subject teachers is rewarding and appropriate to rationalize the use of
curriculum outcomes in content creation. These results revealed most participants preferred
using a collaborative framework to design a school-based curriculum delivery that included
shared planning between subject areas. Teachers highlighted the differences in school climates
and the need for flexibility in curriculum delivery to match the specific needs of the students in
each school. Implications for curriculum delivery were the basis of the study.

Keywords: Abu Dhabi Education Council, curriculum delivery, cooperative planning,


international education, Finnish Approach to education

Introduction
Curriculum development of a school is the methodical planning for the education of students in
a school resulting in courses of study and delivery methods (Alvior, 2015). Several aspects affect
all curriculum development in meeting the needs of 21st century learners. Shared beliefs and
philosophies of education among all involved participants is essential in the areas of curriculum
planning, implementation and evaluation. These beliefs and philosophies lead to a vision for the
school, which guides the school in all areas including subjects taught, delivery methods, types of
materials used and the evaluation of students (Bilbao, Lucido, Iringan, & Javier 2008). Then, we
need a definition for the curriculum. Kerr defines curriculum as, All the learning which is
planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or
outside the school (Kelly, 1999, p. 20).

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The purpose of this article is to consider the problematics of curriculum delivery and
explore whether there is more need for school based collaborative planning for reaching the
outcomes of Abu Dhabi School Model. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven Emirates in the
United Arab Emirates. Formal education in Abu Dhabi began in the 1960s. In 1971, the seven
emirates formally joined to solidify the nation and point the people of the UAE toward a rapid
expansion in every facet of life. The internal structure of the government included the Ministry
of Education and Youth, began in 1971. As was its charge, the Ministry of Education and Youth
began to systematically open schools, develop standards of competence and promote education
to a level comparable to education in the west (Bradshaw, Tennant, & Lydiatt, 2004).

The Abu Dhabi government is proudly committed to serving students at the highest level
possible. In 2008, the government planned a journey that would propel Emirati students to high
levels of success. The Abu Dhabi Educational Council (ADEC) started to develop and
implement a policy agenda designed to dramatically increase student achievement and support
the development of bilingual Emirati students. Students receive instruction in both English and
Arabic from teachers who are Arabic-medium teachers (AMTs) and English-medium teachers
(EMTs). EMTs teach the subjects for English, Math, and Science while AMTs are responsible
for Arabic and Islamic lessons.

The students in 2010 returned to a new school system. Abu Dhabis New School
Model served as the foundation for a curriculum based on research, student-centered,
technology-rich and delivered in modern teaching facilities. The New School Model linked the
school curriculum with student outcomes allowing for the provision of a variety of learning
opportunities suiting the needs of students with different learning styles. With critical thinking
skills at the center, the curriculum also focused on a sustained development of the cultural and
national identity of Emirati youth (ADEC, 2013a, b).

Several key components guided instruction and planning of the New School Model. The
development of students literacy in both Arabic and English was critical. The New School
Model emphasized the consistent focus on student outcomes, which supported continuous and
rigorous professional development for teachers. Standardizing the curriculum and the delivery of
the curriculum across all ADEC schools was a cornerstone for the success of the students
(ADEC, 2013a).

In the effort to standardize both the curriculum and the delivery of the curriculum,
ADEC developed and organized a set of learning standards as well as specific student learning
outcomes. In the end, ADEC provides detailed learning standards for all subjects. Classroom
teachers must have a clear understanding of the learning outcomes for the grades they teach.
Teacher expectations are to be able to deliver curriculum content using strategies that enable all
students to meet the pre-determined learning outcomes (ADEC, 2012). Teachers receive the
curriculum for each grade level, along with the expected Learning Outcomes, upon arrival in the
country.

Curriculum Delivery Models


Curriculum delivery, how teachers teach or deliver instruction, is hardly new but
conceptualization of the way teaching and learning strategies are and how we define the terms
remains ever changing. For example, the instructional strategies incorporated into schools in the
1970s are less likely to match the needs of the 21st century learner. What (the content) is taught
and how it (the curriculum) is taught is dependent on the setting, the needs of the learners and,
to some extent, teacher preferences.

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In many schools, like ADEC schools in Abu Dhabi, the descriptive and prescribed
curriculum is the norm. The responsibility for delivery of the curriculum belongs with the
teachers. It is in that delivery of instruction that the magic happens and students achieve at high
levels or disaster occurs and students make no progress or worse yet, regress.

The curriculum itself developed from three core sources: needs and interests of learners,
values and culture of society, and realm of systematic knowledge or subject matter. Subject
matter refers to the belief of what every student needs to understand and know to be successful
(Goodson 1987).

The structure of the lesson is critical to the delivery of the curriculum. Structuring of the
curriculum occurs by sequencing the what and when of topics. There is a hierarchical
relationship between various content elements and the impact of these elements to daily teaching
in the form of term planning, weekly planning and lesson planning (Masters, 2010).

Masters (2010) used three general principles to guide planning of curriculum delivery.
These principles led to the following guidelines:

1. Students must be the first concern when planning. Student development is at the
center focusing on all aspects of the child. Learning needs to be personalized and specific
for each students different styles and intellect while meeting the needs of the
stakeholders and society.

2. Curriculum requires teaching staff working together to organize learning allowing for
all involved to participate. The ADEC Learning Outcomes give direction for the
curriculum. Learning Outcomes are the expectations of mastery that students learn for
success in education. There are yearly Learning Outcomes divided into subject and unit
outcomes.

3. The school day needs a variety of learning experiences and activities dispersed over
several outcomes.

Curriculum development is an intellectual journey for students including experiences that


move students toward mastery in their learning. The journey focuses on helping students
understand content, allowing for connections within the content areas, leading to mastery and
providing continuous assessment to ensure the students are learning. Classrooms are a small
version of society making it important to meet the needs of all students there. Each classroom
has those students who complete work quickly and need to be challenged more and those
students who require more time to learn an outcome. Ideally, each student in the classroom
should be able to participate and have an equal chance of success. In this study, we investigated
the process of content delivery models used for instruction, specifically models frequently used
in Finland (OPM, 2012).

Education in Finland and Curriculum Delivery


Curriculum sets the course of study for the school, (the Learning Outcomes). It dictates the
teaching and learning within a school providing for all aspects of the school itself. In Finnish
education, it is important that all children succeed to the best of their abilities. The perspective of
the needs of all the children in a school has translated to some of the highest scores on
international exams such as the Program for International Student Achievement (PISA) (OCED,
2014). The PISA exam given to 15-year old students 65 countries throughout the world. In the
overall average in Mathematics, Science and Reading, students in Finland scored in the top 12

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countries with Canadas students scoring at 13 followed by Australia at 19, Great Britain at 23
and the United States at 26. The United Arab Emirates students averaged a combined score of
434, which placed them at 48, ahead of Thailand, Mexico and Qatar. The country with the lowest
combined scores was Peru, with a score of 368 (OCED, 2014).

Finland has consistently led PISA scores. In the continued effort to improve the quality
of education and improve student outcomes, Finland has adopted phenomenon-based
teaching using crosscut themes instead of subject-based classes. These tenets are the core of the
curriculum (NCF 2016).

Integration of subjects supporting an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning


are not new in Finland but, like many approaches to education, are evolving. Finnish schools
began trials with teaching and learning using inter-disciplinary themes as a foundation in the
1980s. Indeed, interdisciplinary instruction became infused in the Finnish middle-school
curriculum where in the past teachers were subject-based (EPA Q1 2016).). In the interest of
bringing the success of students in Finland to Abu Dhabi, this study investigated the features of
five different curriculum delivery models.

Curriculum Models of Instruction


Curriculum delivery models were investigated during this this study. The study included five
models because they differ from each other clearly. Teachers typically understand the models or
can understand them with relatively little introduction or review.

Subject-Centered Curriculum Delivery Model


Shoemaker (1991) described subject-centered model as the delivery of standards that ensure the
coverage of all subject matter for mastery by the learners. Each subject taught in isolation from
the other. Mastery is the overall goal of subject-centered model. Learning takes place in a
systematic process using the textbook as the primary instructional tool. Generalizations found
within the field of study craft the objectives and prescribe the inherent intellectual processes.
Questioning techniques concentrate on what rather than how and why.

Core Curriculum Delivery Model


Core Curriculum Delivery Model wraps around learning experiences all students need. The
purpose of this model is to create a universal sense of inquiry, discourse, and understanding
among learners of different backgrounds and aspirations and set of learning experiences
intended to promote a common body of knowledge are carefully prepared (Wilson 2005).
Broad areas of concern observed relying on themes for a foundation language.

Themes centered on life help with integration of learning bringing the subjects together
as one. Problem solving and reflective thinking are an integral part. An example of possible a
possible theme includes: Earth and Space in science, stories about space in English and Arabic,
space exploration in the UAE in civics, and art classes to create a solar system. (Wilson 2005).

Broad Fields Model Curriculum Delivery Model


Beauchamp (1982) described the Broad Fields Curriculum Delivery model as a combination of
more than one subject into one field of study, like integrating science and reading with stories
about space. The goal of this model is to move away from independent subjects and develop
themes within a few subjects. Integration of learning is highlighted to achieve success in more
than one subject area at a time (Beauchamp, 1982). It differs from the Core Curriculum Delivery
Model in that the incorporation of this model stresses content coverage, and acquisition of

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information. A main concept of Broad Field Model is to move from knowledge-based
instruction to an integration of subjects around themes.

Phenomenon-based Model (PBM) Curriculum Delivery Model


In this model, learning views education as a conceptual change in the interaction with the
environment (stergaard, Lieblein, Breland, & Francis, 2010, p. 8). In classrooms, teachers help
students examine 21st century skills. Contextual-pedagogical perspectives and core ideas are key
to delivering curricula using the Phenomenon-based Model (stergaard, et. al., 2010).

Outcome-based Delivery Model


When teachers focus, and organize the educational experience within the school around student
success at the end of the experience defines outcome-based model. The basis of the system is to
focus on what is important for students to achieve and organizing the curriculum, instruction
and assessment around those significant outcomes (Berlach & McNaught, 2007).

According to Linda Darling-Hammond, the teacher is the most important person in the
classroom (Darling-Hammond, 2000). Teachers must know the content. Teachers must know
the intricacies of the curriculum and the learning outcomes at each level and grade. Teachers
develop the tight procedures that maximize time for learning. Teachers know how to deliver the
curriculum using multiple strategies that can meet the needs of the various students in the class.
Teachers strategically combine the knowledge and skills that can promote students to high levels
of achievement, through the combination of subject matter knowledge, classroom management,
and the ability to deliver content to students in a way that they both understand and can integrate
into their academic lives. As all good teachers know, there are many ways to teach a lesson.

With these concepts in mind, we developed our pilot on curriculum delivery with Tyler
(1949) rationale. Tyler developed a model for curriculum delivery providing teachers with the
autonomy to plan for learning that provides students in the class the potential for the best
education possible. He indicated that organization and evaluation of lesson plans is as important
to teachers as evaluation of students. As Darling-Hammond (2000) suggested, if the teacher is
the most important person in the classroom, much of the burden of teaching students how to
learn relies on the teacher. Teachers must be able to support students achievement at the pre-
determined level of the Learning Outcomes described in the school curriculum. In this case,
teachers must ensure all students successfully meet the Learning Outcomes in the Abu Dhabi
School Model. The educational curricula as well as the delivery models need to be flexible and
ever changing to accommodate learning styles of students and meet their needs.

General theory and conceptualization in curriculum development appears to have


changed relatively little throughout most of the World during the last decades. From this point
of view, teachers deliver curriculum based on the needs of the students in the classroom and
requirements of the subject (Tyler, 1949). Using this model of instructional delivery, teachers
pose the following questions while preparing for instruction (Tyler, 1949, p. 1):

1. What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?


2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
4. How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?

By issuing these guidelines, teachers went out to plan a shared educational entity with a holistic
approach.

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Method
In this study, we used Tyler rationale to develop the research questions and discourse analysis to
examine the data. The study investigated what participants are thinking about the processes of
working with different models of curriculum delivery, with each other, and regarding Abu Dhabi
school model outcomes. This study addressed the following research questions:

1. Is there a need to allow curriculum delivery models to be school-based in Abu Dhabi


schools?
2. Do pedagogical discussions about curriculum delivery models in the schools deepen the
cooperation between Arabic Medium Teachers (AMT) and English Medium Teachers
(EMT)?
3. What model is more supported by the teachers in the study?
4. What did the teachers think about Abu Dhabi School model outcomes?

To answer these research questions, the researchers incorporated a Discourse Analysis design.
Discourse analysis is the term used to identify approaches to analyze written, vocal, or sign
language use. The use of sentences, propositions, speech and when subjects talk are all objects of
discourse analysis. Naturally occurring' language use is the center of the analysis.

Table 1. Example of a speech act chart


Performer Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Group 1. EF: In our school we should [Pedagogical guidelines EF: We can combine the AF:
combine all or as many were shortly left behind best elements from These outcomes are too
subjects we can. and the group began to remaining three models narrow
work with practical AF: Yes, but can we choose
matters] the subjects first for the
weekly plan?
Group 2. AF: I suggest that we name [Group agreed to drop [Group agreed to drop out EM: We have to
our learning entity with a out the Broad field the Broad field model, but combine the outcomes
topic. Innovation! Let's model, but they had a they had a long discussion from different subjects
choose innovation. long discussion over the over the matter. In the end,
matter. In the end, they they decided to go with
decided to go with outcome based model]
outcome based model]
Group 3. AF: We can imagine the AF: Can we have these EF: Lets go through these AF: Thats fine, I have
world without pollution. models in Arabic? curriculum models first. I all the outcomes for
Colors, atmosphere, like you EM: Tts already already have my own grade five here.
now. Sea without litter and translated, look. opinion. Maybe we could AF: You cant take
oil. Then another aspect, AF: Oh, good now we choose the phenomenon them all, only one term.
world we live in now all can work. based model.
polluted and dirty.
Group 4. EF: In my class the behavior EM: I read lately an AF: We can leave out EF: How can I teach
management comes number article about Activity lessons and the Arabic outcomes in
one. behaviorism. combine all the others English lesson?
Behaviorism is often [After a lively discussion the EM: The outcomes are
seen as something to group ends up with the same.
avoid, but actually its phenomenon based
somehow the most approach]
effective way learn.

A=AMT teacher
E=EMT teacher
F=Female
M=Male
[--] General description about the conversation
The main idea of this study is the activity speakers are engaged in when they say what they are
thinking. Our focus in analyzing was a form of speech act analyzing1 where we identified the

1 Speech acts are related to the intent of the speaker and how what effect the listener is said. John Searle (1975) has
introduced the notion of an 'indirect speech act'. In His theory of indirect speech acts he thinks that when someone
speaks some things are communicated through shared prior knowledge and nonverbal communication, as well as
common rational thinking and inference in cohesion with the hearer.

29 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
focus of discussion allocated to the research questions. Speech acts analysis is a particular way
of talking about and understanding the word or an aspect of the world (Jorgenson & Philips,
2002, p. 1).

Setting for the study


The setting for study was Al Ameen school, an ADEC school Abu Dhabi in June 2016. The
school was part of EPA (Education Partnership Agreement between Edu Cluster Finland ltd and
ADEC2) project from 2010 to 2016. The project developed best classroom practices with a focus
of transferring them to other ADEC schools. Al Ameen School is a Cycle one school (grades 1-
5).

To begin the study, we invited teachers from other Abu Dhabi Cycle 1 schools to
participate in the study. First, we sent e-mails to all the schools in the same cluster of schools.
Teachers willing to participate responded by e-mail, and once the event started at Al Ameen
School, the agreements for participation were signed. Thirty-two teachers joined the study. In
this group of teachers, we had 11 male teachers, two of them SEN teachers and 21 female
teachers, one of them SEN teacher, two of them AMT Heads of Faculty (HoF).

From these participants, we created four groups of eight teachers. We organized these
groups in common understanding, to get equal set of different skills. We divided males, females
and SEN teachers in different groups from different schools. Organization of this kind of
integration teams can vary greatly3 (AACTE, 2010) but this grouping deemed appropriate for this
study.

In the beginning, teachers received the objectives and methods of the study. They
worked using multidiscipline integration to examine the various curriculum delivery models. All
groups included Arabic Medium Teachers (AMTs) and English Medium Teachers (EMTs). The
Special Education Needs teachers (SENs) dispersed to separate groups.

Next, teachers heard a short introduction to the different curriculum delivery models. We
used Prezi for the presentation so that group might have a visual image of the process. In
addition, teachers received different curriculum delivery models in writing. Teachers obtained all
the information about the study and about the different models of curriculum delivery. Teachers
got time to consider and discuss the information before deliberating as a team and coming up
with a plan of action for future use.

Group work
The next step was for each group to begin planning for curriculum delivery using the model
assigned to them. The time of the school year was ideal because most of the teachers had already
started the planning for the next academic year. In a six-hour workshop, each team was provided
large sheets of paper, colored pencils and weekly plan templates as well as all Abu Dhabi School

2 The EPA has been created to fuse Abu Dhabi and Finnish education with the hopes of developing world-class
flagship schools in the UAE. Designing and trials of different delivery methods using the ADEC curriculum is key.
Showcasing new ways to deliver the curriculum from 2010 to 2015, teachers acquired new skills and thoughts
toward how classrooms should be run (http://peda.net/veraja/ecfi/epa/project).
3 Organization of integration teams, three ways: a) Do-it-yourself integration is when a teacher brings other subjects

into their lessons like an Arabic teacher teaching the science vocabulary even though they do not teach science.
b) Team-Teach-It Integration: Partnering with another teacher to incorporate various subjects and to cover the same
themes or skills.
c)Multidiscipline Integration: A team of teachers with different expertise work in cooperation with each other to
create a fully integrated curriculum delivery plan. The team agrees to themes and skills to be taught. The team then
deliver their lesson based on the planning of the team (AACTE 2010).

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model outcomes translated in both languages. Teams were able to accomplish the initial planning
task in the assigned amount of time. In the end of the day, all teams gave a presentation about
their work. During the sessions, two members of our research team collected the speech acts and
made general notes about the atmosphere and tone of discussion in groups. The research team
also collected all presentations and the material teachers worked on to further use in analysis.

Team 1
Team 1 had a very practical approach to the task. They started right away examining the different
curriculum delivery models and identifying their own interests into the models. One teacher took
the lead giving others time for input and ideas. The team decided that the subject-centered
model and outcome-based model were similar and very narrow in depth so they left those out of
the plan. Deciding that common core model, phenomenon-based model, and broad field model
were close to what they were doing and worked well together, the team developed their plan
around these models.

Team 2
Team 2 had a strong personality in the group who led the entire discussion and kept the team
very focused on what ADEC dictates at this time that is outcome-based model. The team agreed
that other models would be helpful if all the outcomes could be combined to work together. The
focus of the team stayed with the ADEC outcomes and the team lost momentum because of the
narrow scope of their discussion.

Team 3
This team of teachers struggled with language barriers until the researcher added someone who
could translate to the team. At that time, the team discussion became vibrant and they decided to
work with the phenomenon-based model to organize their work. The team decided that
outcomes guide their instruction so it was hard to plan using the phenomenon-based model.

Team 4
Team 4 discussed the different models and decided that the phenomenon-based model would be
the most productive for them as a team. They determined that they had the outcomes already
and could work with that. The team came back to the outcomes on several occasions during the
session but worked with phenomenon-based in the end.

Results
The following research questions guided this pilot study:
1. Is there a need to allow curriculum delivery models to be school-based in Abu Dhabi
schools?
2. Do pedagogical discussions about curriculum delivery models in the schools deepen the
cooperation between Arabic Medium Teachers (AMT) and English Medium Teachers
(EMT)?
3. What model approach works best for the teachers in Abu Dhabi schools?
4. What did the teachers think about Abu Dhabi school model outcomes?

After analyzing the data collected, the question answers are as follows:

Research Question 1
Is there a need to allow curriculum delivery models to be school-based in Abu Dhabi schools?

The curriculum itself should be the leading document describing what teach but not
necessarily what to assess. Curriculum preparation every year is essential by teachers in order to

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be current. From all this we can make a conclusion: The best way to ensure proper curriculum
delivery is to do school based (research based) planning.

All teams appeared to arrive quickly at some similar conclusions. One model of
curriculum delivery cannot meet allow for success of all students in the classrooms of the
teachers in this study. Since the ADEC Curriculum is outcomes-based, it appears to be almost
imperative that teachers be encouraged to employ the curriculum delivery model that best suits
the subject, students and classroom.

Research Question 2
Do pedagogical discussions about curriculum delivery models in the schools deepen the
cooperation between Arabic Medium Teachers (AMT) and English Medium Teachers (EMT)?

Teachers' enthusiasm and insight into the need for such a debate suggested clearly that
time for Professional Development in Abu Dhabi Schools should be used to focus on school-
based curriculum delivery planning. The discussion and planning worked well with teams of
teachers who were from different disciplines, both AMTs and EMTs. The discussions appeared
to lead to deep educational discussions about what would work here and in other settings. This
may indicate that discussions regarding pedagogical frameworks can deepen professional
relationships and cooperation in school teams.

Research Question 3
What model approach works best for the teachers in Abu Dhabi schools?

Through the discourse of each of the four teams, it appears that the phenomenon-based
model was the most popular with three of the teams out of four. Teachers focused on the
outcomes required by ADEC and voiced how it would be hard to incorporate any other model
other than outcome-based with directives to cover so many outcomes in a term.

Research Question 4
What did the teachers think about Abu Dhabi school model outcomes?

Teachers had an opportunity to work closely with each other, now first time with
translated outcomes. There was a shared understanding that the outcomes are giving good bases
for integrated learning areas and continuous assessment. Most of the teachers share the opinion
that there are too many outcomes and the outcomes have a narrow perspective to the actual
skills. This narrowness also gives challenges to learner-centered curriculum delivery, since it is
strongly focusing on assessment.

Limitations
The results of this pilot study are not without limitations. The study conducted in Abu Dhabi
schools, incorporated a small sample of convenience, both of which could affect generalization.
Although a limitation to generalization is apparent, the intent of this study was to investigate the
perception of different curriculum delivery models. Data were collected in a location specified
instead of the natural field setting (Creswell, 2013, p. 45). Since the author led the discussions
with the teams, responses may have been predisposed. Due to the differences in languages and
cultures, perceptions may be diverse and language could be an issue (Creswell, 2003).

Conclusion
This pilot study investigated four research questions regarding the incorporation of several
different curriculum delivery models. The results revealed, unsurprisingly, that teachers preferred

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to be able to incorporate several different models for instruction. This finding is in line with
research that suggests effective teachers have a wide variety of curriculum delivery strategies they
can employ. They know when these strategies are often most successful and with specific
content and specific students. Outcome-based education with effective teachers can propel
students to high levels of achievement. (Marzano, Marzano & Pickering, 2003).

The opposite is also true. The studies by Marzano, et.al. (2003) and others reveal that
high performance in schools with outcome-based curriculum delivery has a strong correlation
with teacher effectiveness. Clear and challenging performance standards for all stakeholders
(administration, teachers, and students) help expand the outcomes value. Policies have been
developed to assure these outcomes are high quality through testing and evaluation (Sahlberg,
2007)

It was interesting that AMT and EMT teachers in this study started to combine the
subjects in their planning. Globally, policy reform and development of curriculum has focused
on increasing the amount of time spent on literacy and numeracy. Understanding the need for
students to achieve in reading, writing and mathematics has been a force driving educational
reforms. Literacy and numeracy are the main factors for success in many international school
systems since student achievement is being judged with assessments such as Program for
International Student Assessment (PISA4) and International Association for the Evaluation of
Educational Achievement (IEA5). Even though schools have concentrated on the importance of
literacy and numeracy, significant time allocation and resources have been neglected (Sahlberg,
2007).

Schools internationally put too much emphasis on structural knowledge, technical skills
and cognition known as system-world. In addition, schools focusing on social tolerance and
drawing on the culture around them including areas like values, beliefs, and social experiences,
the life-world, as a balance of outcomes and experiences enables schools to perform at a
higher level. This kind of integration of both sides of knowledge is often neglected when it
comes to planning of lessons. That is why it is good to have a wider scope to curriculum
delivery, that gives room to community building, shared experiences and to value traditions and
culture. (Habermas, 1972; Sahlberg, 2007, 2008).

Sahlberg (2007) describes the global educational reform movement as a movement to


focus on basic knowledge and common core skills in subjects, common standards for teaching
and learning, measurable knowledge and stronger school and teacher accountability for results.
With the increased accountability in schools, administration and teachers have become more
competitive instead of cooperative in their practice. With the increase of external forces, schools
then start teaching for test rather than teaching for knowledge. In the middle of this
conversation, we have AMT and EMT teachers trying to do their best for the students to achieve
best possible results. School-based planning often falls on the shoulders of teachers and as result,
we have two camps of teachers making curriculum plans for the same group of students. Results
of this study indicate that when school management is supporting real-time curriculum delivery,
we can see improvement in AMT EMT cooperation.

4 The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment evaluating education
systems, given to 15-year-old students worldwide. Over 80 countries have participated to date.
5 The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) is a cooperative on

international research institutions and government agencies. This cooperative conducts studies on educational
achievement and other issues in education focusing on a deeper understanding on policies and practices in
educational systems.

33 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
Beginning to think about curriculum from the top level of an organization, guidelines
driving the essential parts of the schools must be malleable for ever-changing community needs.
Leadership within the school needs to react to these changing needs with a shared vision and
understanding of the culture. Educational reform continue to dictate new regulations providing
ever-changing criteria for schools but also for the school management in general. These are
criteria driven by external measurements focusing on how to provide education for students to
be successful in modern schools. Focusing on socializing students, creativity, and living a better
life has become more valuable. To avoid idiosyncrasies, we need to develop a common
understanding of learning processes if these criteria are incorporated into the curriculum (Baker-
Doyle & Gustavson, 2014).

The results of this study support the idea, that schools must address the following to
meet expectations. External demands and beliefs guide the need for internal accountability for
learning conditions that provide success to students. Conditions considered toward perceptions,
knowledge and skills to optimize the learning environments for student (Sahlberg, 2008).

The Abu Dhabi school model outcomes represent the external norms and expectations
for the curriculum delivery in Abu Dhabi schools. They also give a good understanding what
students should understand and achieve on different levels. This study also reveals that there
might be a common interest to investigate deeper the nature of the outcomes, and different
possibilities to narrow down the number of them.

What comes to internal conditions of delivering the outcome, the micro-level, it is clear
that schools should increase the stakes of school based planning of curriculum delivery and
research based knowledge of the teachers about the different designs of curriculum delivery to
be able to deconstruct the objectives and use their own pedagogical thinking to form themes and
units. It is incumbent upon us, as administrators to analyze the profound effect of curriculum
delivery on the achievement of students in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

Future Plans
However, the results give indication that research in this area need to be more widely. Research
options for the future would include inclusion of more schools including Cycle 2 schools so that
the sample would be larger making the study more valid.

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Research-based strategies for every teacher. Washington, D.C.:ASCD.
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International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
p-ISSN: 1694-2620
e-ISSN: 1694-2639
Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 36-46, IJHSS

Searching for unity in variety: The role of aesthetics and


philosophy of science

Frederick Mordi
School of Media and Communication
Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria

Abstract
This article attempts to deconstruct the concept of aesthetics using the postulates of various
scholars as a guide. Adopting literature review as methodology, it subjects some of these
postulates such as Immanuel Kants aesthetic judgements and Denis Duttons aesthetic
universals, to rigorous philosophical interrogation. It also attempts to explain the construct,
philosophy of science and dwells extensively on Thomas Kuhns scholarly work: The Structure
of Scientific Revolutions. The article adds some African perspectives to the debate and tries to
establish a correlation between aesthetics and human feelings on the one hand; and between
philosophy of science and human behaviour, on the other hand. Finally, it attempts to find a
conjunction between aesthetics, philosophy of science and the human person. This is the key
thrust of the article. The paper submits that there is a close relationship between aesthetics and
philosophy of science, which are in the same search for unity in a variety of human experiences,
based on these arguments.
Key words: Aesthetics, philosophy of science, human feelings, taste, aesthetic judgements.

Introduction
A few years ago, some Muslim radicals caused global outcry when they demolished treasured
religious icons, which they described as idolatrous, in Timbuktu in Mali, and Palmyra in Syria.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) joined students of history in condemning the act. The
ICC went a step further by extending its jurisdiction to prosecuting not just war criminals but
also looters of historical monuments.
In September 2016, the ICC successfully tried and jailed Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, a
Malian, who was found guilty of masterminding the destruction of cultural artefacts during the
armed conflict in the West African country. According to Lostal (2016) the ICC sentenced him
to nine years of imprisonment for the crimes that he committed in 2012. Lostal (2016) also
observes that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
coordinated international efforts to restore these mausoleums, in collaboration with the Malian
Ministry of Culture. This is a good example of how international organisations are collaborating
to preserve valued aesthetic artefacts, and it provides a background to this discussion, which is
on aesthetics, philosophy of science and the attitude of the human person towards arts and
culture in general. While aesthetics is primarily concerned with the appreciation of art, beauty
and taste, philosophy of science on the other hand, tries to comprehend and explain the marvels
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of the universe (Singer, 1994). Philosophy of science deals with the fundamentals and
approaches of science that can help elucidate natural phenomena and human behaviour.
For instance, one of the questions that aestheticians often ask in trying to comprehend
mans attitude towards the arts in general, is why do people find certain things beautiful? The
popular saying beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, attributed to Plato, may not fully answer
this question, as there are other eclectic concepts involved in making aesthetic judgements on the
subject of beauty that transcend this rather simplistic view. Ganyi (2014) believes that aesthetic
judgment is purely a matter of individual opinion, rather than societal. Immanuel Kant, one of
the most influential of the early theorists in aesthetics, shares this view. According to Kant, an
individual's understanding of beauty is subjective and depends on his class, cultural background
and education (Kant, 1790). This means, for example, that a person of low class is likely to have
low taste as well, while an individual who belongs to the upper echelon of society will be
decidedly sophisticated in taste. Kant goes on to say that aesthetic judgements are culturally
conditioned and dynamic in nature. He backs his assertion by pointing out that while Britons in
the Victorian era considered artworks of African origin as ugly, the Edwardians, who later
emerged, had positive views about African sculpture. That explains why some people find certain
things beautiful, while others do not.
There appears to be some merit in the Kantian hypothesis as Victorians are renowned
for their prudery. For instance, Anderson (2015) hilariously cites how Victorians once covered
the naked legs of a table with skirts because they were embarrassed at the sight. Therefore, it is
unlikely that they would appreciate African carvings, no matter how beautiful they may be. It is
also quite probable that Victorians might have inadvertently associated these artworks with
paganism. Assuming this was their mind set then, it must have obviously beclouded their
reasoning and made them to painfully ignore the striking aspects of African works of arts.
However, this does not in any way suggest that the Victorians lack a sense of appreciation of
objects of beauty. They are certainly not philistines that are reputed for their poor taste in the
arts. It just had to do with their mind set. But then there is no uniformity of values. That explains
why individual and social variables affect aesthetic judgements.
Nevertheless, Kant avers that objectivity and universalitythe concept that certain
things are beautiful to everyoneare central to aesthetics. He rigorously defends his position
that judgments about artistic beauty, which he terms judgments of taste, should have universal
applicability (Kant, 1987). This assessment is largely subjective as there appears to be no
common standard for measuring artistic beauty, or a universally accepted definition of aesthetics
(Naukkarinen & Bragge, 2016). For instance, what some cultures would view as artistic beauty,
would be considered quite the opposite in other cultures. So, the Kantian concept of universal
applicability of the arts, may not be paradigmatic. However, taste seems to enjoy wide
acceptance. David Hume appears to subscribe to this view. In his essay, Of the Standard of
Taste, he posits that the general principles of taste are uniform in human nature (Hume,
1757). This suggests the universality of taste. Hume adds that people should judge beauty based
on taste and not reason. The Victorians appear guilty of judging African artworks based on
reason and not taste.
How should value be placed on a work of art? This is the problem that this paper will
attempt to resolve. Its goal is to find out whether there is a relationship between culture and an
appreciation of the art. The paper has the following objectives: to determine the extent to which
culture influences aesthetics; to find out if there is a relationship between aesthetics and
philosophy of science; and to know the extent to which aesthetics and philosophy of science
influence the feelings of the human person. The following research questions arise from these
objectives: to what extent does culture influence how an artwork is perceived? Is there a
relationship between aesthetics and philosophy of science? How do aesthetics and philosophy of

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science influence the feelings of the human person? This paper uses review of relevant literature
as methodology because it deals with conceptual issues.
Art and Morality
Is there a connection between art and morality? This is another key question that aestheticians
often ask. To tackle this question, it may be illuminating to dwell briefly on the controversies that
surrounded the erection of the African Renaissance Monument in Dakar, Senegal. The 49 metres
(160 feet) tall statue of a man, a woman and a child, is reportedly the tallest statue in Africa and a
major attraction for tourists visiting Senegal. The monument is located at the top of a hill
overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. However, the monument, which is former Senegalese President
Abdoulaye Wades concept of Africas rebirth, has come under scathing attacks. For the ordinary
Senegalese, their grouse is the perceived prohibitive cost of the project, which is estimated at
$27million. Some moralists believe that the topless statue is not in keeping with traditional
African values, which place emphasis on decency. Muslims in the country view the monument as
a symbol of paganism, while aficionados of art aver that the statue in question simply lacks
artistic sophistication. These criticisms notwithstanding, the statue continues to attract tourists.
The issue of aesthetics and morality also played out when the Iranian President, Hassan
Rouhani, a Muslim, visited Italy in January 2016. Attendants at a local museum in Rome had to
hastily clothe semi-nude statues of women to avoid insulting sensibilities when Rouhani took a
tour. But many Italians condemned this act, which they described as cultural submission.
Esposito (2011) states that the Quran is against all forms of veneration of statues, even though it
does not seem to have a clear position on human representation in sculptures. That explains the
decision of the attendants to conceal some of the more evocative artworks from the visiting
Iranian President. The attitude of Muslims towards art appears to be one devoid of any
sentimental attachmenta sort of art for arts sake. Interestingly, when Leonardo di Caprio, a
popular Hollywood actor, visited the museum a week earlier, there was no such cover up. This
evidently demonstrates that aesthetic appreciation is culturally relative.
Aesthetics and Religion
As earlier stated, aesthetics also extends to the religious realm. The two major religions in the
world today, Christianity and Islam, have different views on aesthetics. In Christianity, art is
strongly encouraged and funded by the Church in some cases. Michelangelos famous
renaissance sculpture, David, and Leonardo da Vincis fifteenth century painting, The Last
Supper, are vivid examples of artworks that depict Biblical persons and events. Conversely,
adherents of Islam deem human works of art to be inherently flawed, compared to the work of
Allah, and as such, any attempt to mimic nature in an art form, is considered disrespect to Allah.
This seems to be the reason some radical Islamic fundamentalists are bent on destroying world
heritage sites in Africa and the Middle East.
Aesthetics and Culture
Another concept that is associated with aesthetics is cultural universality. This presupposes that
all cultures have some form of aesthetic creation such as oral or written histories, relics, and
songs. A vivid example is the Japanese tea drinking ritual, which some people view as an art form
due to the intricacies that it involves (Okakura, 1906). The tea ceremony blends aesthetics with
culture so well that it fills a foreigner who happens to participate in one of such events, with a
sense of admiration. This custom has helped to draw attention to the culinary culture of the
Japanese. The same thing goes for the Ekitis of South West Nigeria, where pounding of yams for
a meal, is considered an art.

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Evidently stressing the connection between aesthetics and culture, Russian writer and
aesthetician, Leo Tolstoy points out that the universality of art lies in its ability to connect people
across cultures (Tolstoy, 1959). Tolstoys assertion is true to an extent as the cross-cultural
features of aesthetics largely account for the wide acceptance of some works of art in virtually all
cultures. That explains why tourists from all over the world often visit Paris to view the Eiffel
Tower or the Statue of Liberty in New York, for instance. Aristotle (1980) also believes that the
arts generally are mimetic in the sense that they attempt to recreate nature through statues and
paintings. He called this process mimetic naturalism, which simply means that art imitates nature.
Though Aristotles mimetic naturalism focused on the culture of ancient Greeks, it is largely
generalisable as there is hardly any culture where this concept does not play out. The art of
imitation begins from infancy and continues into adulthood. Several inventions of man are
imitations of nature.
Paintings of landscapes, which depict nature, also enjoy universal appreciation because
they are more realistic when compared to the more elitist abstract arts that use forms in a non-
representational way (Orians and Heerwagen, 1992). For this reason, most people find it difficult
to appreciate abstract works of art. This tends to affect their interpretation and judgement of
nonconcrete art forms. Wypijewski (1997) validates this assertion while making reference to the
result of a poll of the art preferences of individuals of 10 different countries across four
continents. According to the result, a majority of the participants reported convergence of
interests in terms of choice of favourite colour, for instance.
Artistic Change
While it is in mans inherent nature to imitate things that he fancies, his taste and style are often
capricious. Berlyne (1971) and Martindale (1990) in separate studies, attempt to establish the
reasons for this artistic change. They believe that artistic change is driven largely by the need to
escape replication and tedium, rather than innovation, as previously assumed. This yearning for
freshness and distinctiveness in artistic styles, is the driving force behind habituation, the
principle that predicts the ability of human beings to change their tastes and styles, with time.
According to Martindale (1990) habituation is the single force that has pushed art always in a
consistent direction. Habituation tends to promote positive changes in society. For instance,
artistic change becomes imperative as audiences get satiated and increasingly bored with a
performance. Artists are forced to up their game by creating more awful images and using more
explicit language to keep their fickle audiences meaningfully engaged. This trend is quite
noticeable in the movie industry where the audience have become desensitised to violence.
Movie makers in Hollywood and elsewhere have tried to match the demands of this seemingly
insatiable audience by concomitantly producing films with more violent and erotic content. The
same principle is applicable to the entertainment industry where nudity and luridness have
become deeply entrenched.
This trend has also crept into the Nigerian film industry. That is why regulatory bodies
such as the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Film and Video Censors
Board (NFVCB) have had to ban some local songs and programmes considered to have explicit
sexual content. The Big Brother Africa Reality Television show (BBA) that runs on the platform
of Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) is one of such programmes. According to Lengnan (2013),
the BBA is one of the most popular reality television shows in Africa. This is obviously due to
the large viewership that the programme enjoys. The Nigerian government once banned BBA
from airing in the country due to its perceived erotic nature that is considered capable of vitiating
morals of younger viewers (Ezike and Onyekachi, 2015). Results of studies that Ezike and
Onyekachi (2015) carried out among undergraduates in Ebonyi State University in South East
Nigeria indicated that the reality show has indeed exposed young Nigerians to all sorts of sexual

39 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
vices. Critics believe that the show is a serious threat to cherished traditional African values,
which hold chastity in high esteem.
These shortcomings notwithstanding, artistic works, particularly literary works, possess
didactic values (Pinker, 1997). These principles, in turn, can help to foster acceptable behaviour
when properly harnessed. For instance, Miguel Sabido, a renowned Mexican film maker,
successfully demonstrated how entertainment and education can be employed to bring about
behavioural and social change in society (Khalid & Ahmed, 2014). Sabido drew his inspiration
from the mimetic nature of the arts and applied it to the theatre. Indeed, Dissanayake (1997)
believes a deep appreciation of aesthetic experiences affords human beings immense pleasure.
This is quite true as the drama genre earlier mentioned, is not only edifying but is also
entertaining and educative. People visit cinemas to fulfil a need and that is, basically, to be
entertained. Ganyi (2014) amplifies this view, while noting that modern Nigerian drama and
theatre have become veritable tools for mass mobilisation and conscientisation of the common
people for revolutionary action.
Aesthetic Universals
Despite the wide array of differences relating to the aesthetic experiences of individuals and
cultures, there are certain features that appear to have found universal acceptance. According to
Dutton (2001) there are seven of such features known as the aesthetic universals and they
include:
(i) Expertise or virtuosity: This presupposes that human beings recognise and respect
artistic skills, which may be acquired or innate.
(ii) Non-Utilitarian: This assumes that people derive no tangible benefit from an art work
because it serves no functional purpose.
(iii) Style: This feature accepts that all objects of beauty are created in easily identifiable
styles, which are subject to change according to the taste of individuals and cultures.
(iv) Criticism: This is one of the enduring principles of aesthetics and it is largely governed
by an individuals perception and interpretation of works of art.
(v) Imitation: Most artworks mimic experiences of the real world. However, abstract
painting and sculpture are non-representational. That means they do not imitate
nature.
(vi) Special focus: People pay particular attention to their works of art or acts, and take
immense pride in them. Dissanayake (1997) calls this process making special. For
instance, traditional wedding ceremonies in most Nigerian cultures are a big deal and
often involve different cultures coming together. Their modes of dressing, dancing or
greeting, reflect their aesthetic experiences.
(vii) Imagination: This is the major lever of all aesthetics endeavours. It presumes that
artistic works take their roots in the mind and are fertilised and nourished by
experiences.
Clearly, Duttons aesthetic universals highlighted above, are quite instructive in understanding
cross-cultural experiences. All the elements in this list are applicable to all cultures. Take for
example, expertise, which is the first feature. Highly skilled footballers such as Lionel Messi and
Cristiano Ronaldo, have a huge global fan base that transcend gender, age and race. This throws
up the age-old question of nature versus nurture. Is a genius born or made? Can a person be
trained to become a good footballer like Messi and Ronaldo, if he does not have the natural
inclination? These questions are germane to this paper and they have not been fully resolved by
scholars.

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Aesthetic Relativism and Aesthetic Universalism
Closely related to aesthetic universals is the concept of aesthetic relativism and aesthetic
universalism. Proponents of aesthetic relativism argue that a work of art is considered good
only in a specific culture, adding that this may not apply across all cultures. This rather facetious
approach towards universal aesthetic values, which fails to take into account, the elements
common to all cultures, is amplified by an apparent lack of global standards for measuring
aesthetics. Advocates of aesthetic universalism on the other hand, believe that cross-cultural
qualitative standards are possible in evaluating an object of beauty. It is not trite to mention that
the budding Nigerian home video industry glamorised as Nollywood, enjoys wide cross-cultural
acceptance that has helped burnish the image of the country (Lobato, 2009). Even though the art
of rituals, which is a key theme in some of the movies, tends to cast Nigerians in bad light, the
global appeal of Nigerian home videos lends strong support to the concept of aesthetic
universalism highlighted above.
This paper has so far tried to establish that human feelings influence aesthetics
judgements. It has attempted to enunciate specific instances where this happens to buttress its
arguments. It cites the example of the Victorians in Britain that disdained African sculpture, and
the Edwardians that admired artworks from the continent, as an example. It averred that an
individuals culture, class and level of education, govern to a large extent, his aesthetic values. It
highlighted the correlation between aesthetics and morality, stating that some people tend to
view objects of beauty with bad taste if such artworks offend their sensibilities. It mentioned the
negative feelings of Muslims in Senegal to the perceived controversial statue, to support this
argument.
The paper further established that peoples religious views may affect their appreciation
of objects of beauty. It cited, as an example, the case of Muslims who consider artworks as an
imitation of nature and a disrespect to Allah; and Christians that have no such restrictions
concerning objects of beauty. These are some of the ways that this paper has been able to
establish a nexus between the feelings of the human person and aesthetics judgements. Having
dealt with aesthetics extensively, this article will now look at philosophy of science. To do this, it
may be helpful to disintegrate the concept into its component parts namely: philosophy and
science.
Philosophy of Science
The term philosophy derives from the Greek word philosophia, which means love of wisdom.
Lederman (2007) states that science is a body of knowledge, a set of methods and a way of
knowing. This means that scientific explorations seek to find answers to questions using some
established principles. Similarly, Kuhn (1962) describes science as a collection of facts, theories
and methods. Philosophy of science seeks to understand the nature of truth and knowledge. It
uses scientific approaches to arrive at answers to these problems. According to Singer (1994)
philosophy examines the relationships between humanity and nature; and between the individual
and society. In effect, philosophy of science is a systematic enquiry that analyses human relations
and draws conclusions based on its findings. However, there is no unanimity among
philosophers as to the precise definition of the term philosophy.
Non-Western cultures particularly in Asia, also had their own philosophers who were
quite influential. Confucius, for instance, was a renowned Chinese philosopher. Although
African philosophers have equally contributed to the field, they seldom receive mention in the
Western world. One of the ways African philosophers have deepened understanding of
philosophy is through oral literature (Biakolo, 1999). This was the earliest form of historical
record available then in Africa. Oyeshile (2008) adds that folklores, myth, and religion, constitute
some of the elements of African philosophy. Similarly, Eze (1997) contends that the Europeans,

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who derided Africans for not having a written form of literature, have since admitted that there
was some measure of civilisation on the continent before the arrival of the white man, in the
light of new evidence that archaeological findings have revealed.
Essentially, philosophy of science investigates the different branches of science, asking
central questions such as: What is science? What is not science? and How do we achieve
scientific progress? There appears to be no consensus among philosophers about the answers to
these questions. This leads to the concepts in philosophy of science. These concepts or
constructs will help in elucidating the philosophy of science and how it applies to human
reasoning.
Concepts in Philosophy of Science
The first concept is induction. This is a scientific method of reasoning in which a generalisation is
argued to be true based on individual examples that seem to fit with that generalisation. Ivan
Pavlovs famous classical conditioning experiment that involved his dog is an example of
inductive reasoning. One can also draw conclusion based on premises that are generally assumed
to be true. For instance, if plants and animals are made up of cells, it is safe to conclude that
living things possess cells. Francis Bacon promoted the inductive method of reasoning.
The second concept is deduction, which is a method of reasoning that draws conclusions
based on logic and rationality. It is through deductive reasoning that scientists are, for instance,
able to predict when an eclipse would occur, having studied patterns over the years. Rene
Descartes, a French mathematician and philosopher, propounded this method of arriving at
scientific truth.
A third concept that this paper shall dwell on extensively is paradigm shifts and scientific
revolutions associated with Thomas Kuhn. Kuhns epistemological studies in this field were first
published in his 1962 book: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which had a deep impact on the
development of the philosophy of science. In the book, he redefined scientific knowledge and
changed the mind-set of scientists.
Kuhn distinguishes between normal science, where scientists tackled problems within a
particular framework or paradigm, and revolutionary science, when the old paradigm is shown to
be false, through a series of often painstaking experimentations. This process where a new
construct emerges to challenge and refute a traditional theory is known as paradigm shift. For
instance, John Daltons Atomic Theories held sway for years until Ernest Rutherford and other
scientists made new discoveries that upturned Daltons postulates. One of Daltons Atomic
Theories states that an atom is the smallest indivisible particle of an element that can take part in
a chemical reaction. This postulate endured for many years until advances in scientific knowledge
showed that an atom is indeed composed of three smaller parts namely: protons, electrons and
neutrons. This discovery, which led to a review of Daltons theory, is a classic example that
supports the Kuhnian philosophy.
Normal science, according to Kuhn, follows laid down methods. However, in the
revolutionary science, scientists often break the rules in an attempt to challenge a paradigm. A
change becomes inevitable when overwhelming new evidence undermines faith in the existing
paradigm. A scientific revolution takes place when stakeholders eventually embrace this change.
According to Kuhn (1962), normal science must continually strive to bring theory and fact into
closer agreement. However, providing evidence that refutes an extant theory requires painstaking
research.
Another area that is quite pertinent to this discourse is the perennial dissonance
between the philosophy of science and religion. There is some sort of perceived irreconcilable

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difference between the two. In trying to reconcile science with religion, Albert Einstein once
said: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. This shows that the
raging conflict between science and religion is a result of ignorance. There really should be no
conflict between them as both strive in their own way to point mankind towards God.
Coming from this perspective, Kuhn, who likens revolutionary science to religious
conversion, says that three things make scientists to embrace a new concept. The first lies in the
assertion that the new paradigm has solved old problems. The second is the claim of its original
predictions. The third factor is its claim to simplicity. In essence, the Kuhnian revolutionary
science is a gradual process that demands rigour and verification before it gains global
acceptance (Kuhn, 1962). That is why scientists often subject new concepts to rigorous tests to
confirm their validity and integrity.
Falsification, a view associated with Karl Popper, is another concept in philosophy of
science. According to him, scientific ideas can only be tested through falsification, not through a
quest for supporting evidence (Popper, 2004). He further argues that falsifiability is right
approach for scientists to employ to test their theories because it is only through this
methodology that they can truly ascertain the validity of an argument. Theories that endure this
interrogation are deemed to have passed the test of time. For instance, Copernicus and Galileo
were able to prove through observations of celestial activities that the earth moved round the
sun. This view, which was not popular in their day, has come to be accepted, following
confirmation by later studies.
The demarcation problem, which deals with the issue of distinguishing science from non-
science, is another concept in philosophy of science. For example, scholars are divided whether
psychotherapy should be considered science, because its methodologies are quite different from
those employed in pure scientific endeavours. Modern philosophers of science largely agree that
there is no single, simple criterion that can be used to demarcate the boundaries of science
(Laudan, 1983). This paper shares similar sentiments because scientific disciplines are often
correlated. It is interesting to note that while Kuhn and Popper have helped to expand the
frontiers of knowledge in the philosophy of science with their different postulates, Paul
Feyerabend, who is considered a rebel in the field, argues that there is really no scientific
method as such (Feyerabend, 1975). He contends that all methodologies lead to the same goal:
to explain a concept better, regardless of the approaches that they may take. Tsou (2006) defends
Feyerabends revolutionary approach to scientific inquiry, arguing that it offers a more realistic
approach to resolving pluralistic scientific theories. Nevertheless, all the scholars cited in this
work have contributed in their own way to deepening understanding of how philosophy of
science influences the feelings of the human person.
Nexus between Aesthetics, Philosophy of Science and the Human Person
Having established the key concepts in philosophy of science, and having reviewed Kuhns
paradigmatic shift from normal to revolutionary science, which is often regarded as a defining
moment in scientific exploration, the paper will now highlight some of the key areas where
science, particularly the biological and the behavioural sciences, have attempted to elucidate
human behaviour, using several conceptual models.
In October 2007, respected Nobel Laureate, James Watson made a controversial
statement that turned him into a pariah instantly. In an interview, which The Sunday Times
published, Watson, one of the co-discoverers of the helical structure of the DNA, reportedly
states that the black race was intellectually inferior to the white race, reinforcing stereotypes that
Kant and Hume had earlier promoted (Eze, 1997). Watson goes on to express his fears over the
future of Africansa race he claims is lacking in intelligence (Milmo, 2013). This unfortunate
statement tends to suggest that Watson is not immune to delusion of grandeur. That the global

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scientific community was unanimous in flaying Watson over his alleged remarks on racial
inferiority of the African, proves that his assertion lacked merit. There is no established scientific
foundation for judging intelligence based on an individuals geographical location or race.
Although Watson later claimed that he was quoted out of context, the damage was already done
(Ceci & Williams, 2009). However, this is not to diminish his breakthrough discovery of the
DNA, which has helped unravel human behaviour. For instance, building on Watsons
discovery, scientific studies have established that some people with criminal tendencies have an
extra Y chromosome that makes them more aggressive than those with the normal XY
chromosome. This obviously has implications for crime control.
Another scientific approach that helps in explaining the feelings of the human is
determinism. This is a term in psychology which proposes that human behaviour is predictable and
caused by a number of factors. For instance, studies have shown that children whose parents are
violent, often end up becoming violent parents themselves (Bandura, 1961). This, therefore,
means that such children inherit the genes that predispose them to violence from their parents.
In other words, this form of determinism is influenced by internal factors as opposed to external
or environmental form of determinism that Skinner (1957) propounded. In his environmental
determinism, Skinner identified physical and psychological reinforcers and punishments as
factors that govern a persons behaviour. He argues that people tend to be law-abiding because
they are afraid of being punished when they do wrong. These are various ways in which
philosophy of science has helped to explain the feelings of the human person.
Taking aesthetics and philosophy of science together, the paper believes there is
convergence of sorts between the two concepts, and how they look at human behaviour. For
instance, both view the individual as a rational creature that is capable of making informed
judgements, which may be positive or negative as the case may be. This shows some kind of
interdependence between the two. It is this symbiotic relationship that has helped in establishing
order and meaning in the experiences of the human person.
Conclusion
This paper has looked at the various dimensions and concepts of aesthetics and the philosophy
of science. It then attempted to establish the relationship between aesthetics, the philosophy of
science, and the feelings of the human. It adds an African perspective to the treatise and cites
apposite examples such as disposition of the Senegalese Muslims to the statue, which the
immediate past President of the country had erected during his tenure; and ICCs sentencing of
the man who allegedly instigated the destruction of historical monuments in Mali. It is the
position of this paper that although aesthetics and philosophy of science are quite different,
nevertheless, they have similar goals: to attempt to explain the feelings of the human persons in
various ways that the article has established.
This quote attributed to Jacob Bronowski, a Polish-born Mathematician, aptly
summarises the convergence of these tripartite concepts: Science is nothing else than the search
to discover unity in the wild variety of natureor, more exactly, in the variety of our experience.
Poetry, painting, the arts are in the same search for unity in variety.
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Berlyne, D.E. (1971). Aesthetics and psychobiology. Appleton-Century-Crofts.

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Biakolo, E (1999). On the theoretical foundations of orality and literacy. Research in African
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Ceci, S. & Williams, W.M. (2009). Darwin 200: Should scientists study race and IQ? YES: The
scientific truth must be pursued. Nature. 457, 788-789 doi:10.1038/457788a.
Dissanayake, E. (1997). Homo aestheticus: Where art comes from and why. University of Washington
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Dutton, D. (2001). Aesthetic universals in B. Gaut and D.M Lopes eds. The Routledge Companion
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Ganyi, F. M. (2014). The relevance of ideology in the aesthetic development of contemporary
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International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
p-ISSN: 1694-2620
e-ISSN: 1694-2639
Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 47-56, IJHSS

Using the right questions well: Towards a learner centered


English language in Ghanaian senior high schools

Hilarius Kofi Kofinti


Department of Arts Education
University of Cape Coast

Abstract
The success or otherwise of teaching is contingent, to a very large extent, on the type of
interaction between teachers and students. This interaction is facilitated by the use of the right
questions and the right techniques of asking those questions. Communication in the English
language classroom is usually initiated and sustained by the teachers expertise in the use of
different types of questions. This study investigated the types of questions teachers of English
use in their lessons. It also moved further to look at some of the techniques teachers adopt with
regard to wait time, redirection of questions and distribution of questions. It came to light that,
while some teachers make good use of higher order questions, many of them still rely needlessly
on lower order questions. Most teachers redirect students questions and students responses for
other students to comment on. It was also realised that, even though most teachers allow
adequate wait time before calling on students to respond to questions, some teachers do not.
Teachers distribute their questions unequally as a large proportion of questions are directed to
the brilliant students. The study will inform teachers of the importance of using the right
questions in the teaching and learning of English in order to make the teaching of English
learner centered. Finally, the research will serve as a springboard for other researchers. Any other
researcher who will like to embark on a similar study in future can use this material as a source of
reference.
Key words: Questions; wait time; English language education; questioning techniques

Introduction
Teacher student interaction through communication is a very important ingredient that is needed
to achieve success in the classroom. The success of interaction depends on the teachers ability
not only to ask relevant questions but also to develop techniques that will help him or her get the
best out of his questions. Redirecting questions and allowing learners to ask their own questions
are irreplaceable practices that are needed in every lesson. According to Beamon (1997),
questioning is an indispensable method that enhances the development of the thinking skills
needed for learning, and as Barell (2008), puts it, if one wants his students curiosity regarding
the world to be significantly enhanced, he needs to create an environment that is conducive for
the learners. At the Senior High School (SHS) level, the teacher of English language is expected
to help his or her students develop language skills that commensurate with their maturity level.
This can be achieved through the teachers proper use of questioning skills. Teachers have

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always relied on questions to keep their class interactive. Leven & Long (1981) asserted that, on
average, teachers ask between 300-400 questions daily. The importance of questioning can never
be over emphasised as most teachers rely solely on question and answer method to deliver their
lessons. This was discovered by Jebiwot, Chebet, & Kipkemboi (2016), when in their study on
the use of eclectic method of teaching English, found that a vast majority of teachers use
question and answer method to teach their lessons. Zare-Behtash &Azarnia (2015) postulate that
Teacher Talk Time should be drastically reduced while premium should be placed on Student
Talk Time. This shift in the concept of teaching from being teacher centered to learner centered
can only be achieved through the right use of the right questions
Statement of the Problem
A chunk of teachers time is spent asking low-level cognitive questions Wilen (1991). These
questions, instead of promoting critical thinking, emphasise the memorization of facts.
Consequently, the students thinking capacity and adequate comprehension of subject matter is
in no small measure limited. Most stakeholders hold the view that teachers lack appropriate
questioning skills and the ability to create a favourable learning environment that could promote
thinking in the classroom. Bay (2015), asserted that teachers who have been educated on the skill
of questioning improve significantly and adopt methods of asking questions that bring out the
best in their students. According to Acheampong (2001), educational planners, especially in
African countries, including Ghana, have not laid emphasis on how teacher training institutions
go about the training of teacher trainees so as to equip them with the requisite skills that are
needed to enhance critical thinking. It is vital to identify the categories of questions English
Language teachers use during their lessons and how they go about the act of using questions
with particular reference to the distribution of questions. It is therefore this lacuna in the
research for knowledge in English language education that this study seeks to address.

Research Questions
The study was guided by the following questions
1. What are the categories of questions English Language teachers in Cape Coast Senior
High Schools use during their lessons?
2. What questioning techniques do English language teachers in Cape Coast Senior High
Schools use during their lessons?

Review of Related Literature


This section presents a review of related literature that supports the current study.

Categories of Questions that Teachers Use


Bloom (1956), in his cognitive domain theory developed a taxonomy that classified the
educational objectives into six (6) main domains : knowledge, which involves recall of specific
facts and methods; comprehension, which refers to the ability to grab meaning of materials
taught; application, which deals with the ability to use learned materials in new and concrete
situation; analysis, which refers to the ability to break down materials to its component parts;
synthesis, which refers to the ability to put parts together to form a new whole; and evaluation,
which is the ability to judge the value of materials for a given purpose. This has over the years
given a template for the classification of questions. Questions which fall within the first three
objectives are referred to as lower order questions while the rest make up the higher order
question. Wilen (1991), opined that questions can either be low or high order and can be
convergent or divergent in their design. Cotton (1989), found out that, averagely, close to 60
percent of the questions teachers ask when delivering lessons are lower cognitive questions while

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20 percent of the questions are higher cognitive question. To Cotton, it is better to use lower
cognitive questions when the focus of the lesson is young students who are in the primary
school. In such instances it is more beneficial to rely on lower cognitive questions to impart
knowledge about facts which students need to commit to memory higher order questions. Bay
(2015), found out that teacher candidates in Turkey predominantly ask knowledge level questions
while US teacher candidates questions are mainly at the comprehension level. A significant
outcome of her research was that most of the teacher candidates relied on lower order questions.
Techniques of Asking Questions
Cotton (1989), states that redirecting questions is very important technique for situations when a
teacher feels initial responses lack essential elements that will make the responses satisfactory and
complete. Due to the practice of redirection, non-volunteers are given the opportunity to make
contributions in the discussion. Tobin (1987), said that students participation in a lesson
increases when they are given the opportunity to comment on the responses of their colleagues.
Rowe (1986), discovered that the wait time period that teachers offer during lessons are usually
in excess of more than 1.5 seconds. She discovered, however, that when wait time lasted for a
minimum of 3 seconds, the advantages are more than one can imagine. Rowe identified wait
time one and wait time two. Wait time one refers to the pausing after asking the question before
calling on the student to answer and wait time two refers to the pausing after the student has
given the response. On the issue of the distribution of questions, Cuneo (2008), observed that
teachers who were new to the profession tended to call on the same students often. They
favoured students who raised their hands. Cuneo also observed that when questions are not
evenly distributed, students who are extremely bright and verbal monopolized the teaching and
learning process as if it were a one-on-one discussion with the teacher.

Methodology
This research used the descriptive survey method primarily to describe teachers use of
questioning in English language lessons in three selected Senior High Schools in Cape Coast.
The population of the study comprised the English Language teachers and their students from
three selected Senior High Schools in Cape Coast, namely Adisadel College, University Practice
Senior High School and St Augustines College, Cape Coast. Adisadel College has a student
population of 1,740 and 13 teachers of English language. University Practice Senior High School
has a total population of 1,200 students 9 teachers in the Department of English. St. Augustines
College has a total population of 1,679 students. There are 9 teachers of English language. In
sum, the population was 4,650, which was made up of 4,619 students and 31 teachers of English
Language. (Information from Assistant Headmasters in charge of Academics).For the purpose of
this study, the unit of analysis was all teachers of English Language and their students in three
Senior High Schools within the Cape Coast metropolis and the sample size was 28 teachers and
357 students. This sample size was arrived at using Krejcie & Morgan (1970) formula for
determining sample size. The purposive sampling was used to select 10 teachers of English
language from Adisadel College while all the teachers of English language in University Practice
Senior High School and St. Augustines College were used. The simple random sampling,
specifically, the lottery approach, was used to select 119 students from each of the three schools.
Questionnaires and observation guide were used for this study. The questionnaires, made up of
open-ended and close-ended questions were in two sets. One set was administered solely to
teachers while the other was specifically administered to the students. The questionnaire for the
students had three sections; section A, section B, and section C. I obtained an introductory letter
from the Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education, University of Cape Coast. This
letter helped me to seek permission from the headmasters of the Senior High Schools in which
data was collected for the study. I further observed the selected teachers during the teaching and

49 http://aajhss.org/index.php/ijhss
learning process. The observation was done using the structured observation guide. The
observation took place in the natural learning environment (classroom) and I did a non-
participant observation. Also, questionnaires were designed and administered to the students.
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS version 16.0) was used. The analysis on the data
was presented using frequency and percentage tables.

Results and Discussions

The results and discussion were based on the research questions. In the discussion,
reference would be made to some of the findings in the literature review.
Research Question 1: What are the categories of questions English language teachers
use during their lessons?
This research question specifically sought to determine whether or not teachers rely on
convergent questions which are lower order question or divergent questions which generate
critical thinking in students. The findings have been organized in Tables 1, 2, and 3. While Table
1 captured teachers views about the categories of questions they ask during lessons, Table 2
focused on students views about the categories of questions teachers use during English
language lessons. Table 3 dealt with the categories of questions observed during the study.
Table 1: Teachers perception about the categories of questions they ask

Variables Strongly % Agree % Disagree % Strongly %


Agree Disagree
Factual questions 02 07.1 15 53.6 08 28.6 03 10.7
Divergent questions 09 32.1 11 39.3 08 28.6 00 00.0
Higher order 15 53.6 9 32.1 03 10.7 01 03.6
questions
Probing questions 14 50.0 10 35.7 02 07.1 02 07.1
Source: Authors own calculation
Table 1 shows teachers perception about the categories of questions they use during
English language lessons. From the analysis, it was evident that the teachers use all the categories
of questions. On the use of factual questions, 2 teachers, representing 07.1% strongly agreed that
most of the questions they ask are factual questions. Furthermore, 15 teachers, representing
53.6% attested to the fact that most of the questions they use during English lessons demand
only one correct answer. Again, 8 teachers, representing 28.6% disagree and 3 teachers,
representing 10.7% strongly disagree on the use of factual questions. Cotton (1989), opined that
approximately 60% of the questions teachers ask during lessons are lower cognitive questions.
The response of the teachers proves this assertion. On the divergent questions, 9 teachers,
representing 32.1% strongly agreed on the use of it while 11, representing 39.3% agreed to
mostly using divergent questions during their lessons. However, 8 teachers, representing 28.6%,
disagreed on the use of divergent questions during their lessons. Higher order questions are
questions which require students to think critically before responding to them. On the use of
higher order questions, 15 teachers, representing 53.6% and 9 teachers, representing 32.1%
strongly agreed and agreed respectively to using higher order questions which will require
students to think critically. This is in line with Costa (2008), who suggested that teachers should
place premium on higher order questions in order to increase students participation in
classroom interaction. On the use of probing questions, 24 of the teachers representing 85.7%
agreed to using probes to help students correct their incomplete or wrong answers during

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English language lessons. Again, 4 teachers, representing 14.3% however, disagreed on using
probing questions during their lessons.
Table 2: Students Response to the Categories of Questions Teachers ask

Variables Strongly % Agree % Disagree % Strongly %


Agree Disagree
Factual questions. 56 15.7 112 31.4 149 41.7 40 11.2
Divergent questions. 173 48.5 136 38.1 35 9.8 13 3.6
Higher order 160 44.8 134 37.5 49 13.7 14 3.9
questions.
Probing questions. 165 46.2 132 37.0 39 10.9 21 5.9
Source: Authors own calculation
Table 2 shows the views of students about their teachers use of questions during English
language lessons. It was brought to light that 56 of the students, representing 15.7% strongly
agreed to their teachers use of factual questions while 112, representing 31.4% agreed to that
their teachers mostly use factual questions. 149 and 40 students representing 41.7% and 11.2%
respectively disagreed that their teachers questions mostly demand one correct answer. 173
students, representing 48.5% strongly agreed that most of the questions their teachers ask require
different correct answers from students. 136 students representing 38.1% of the students
population agreed that their teachers use divergent questions. On higher order questions, 160
students strongly agreed that most of the questions their teachers usually ask require students to
think critically in order to answer the questions. 134 students also agreed on this. With regard to
probing questions, 165 students, representing 46.2% of students used for the study strongly
agreed that teachers always help them through probes to correct their wrong or incomplete
answers. However, 39 students disagreed on this while 21 strongly disagreed. This situation calls
for concern because students need to be guided by giving them clues as is suggested by Kerry
(1992) when he gave 8 general questioning skills that should be used in teaching and training.
Kerry suggested that teachers should use all responses (even wrong answers) in a positive way.
Table 3: Categories of Questions Observed

Categories of Questions No. of questions. %


Factual questions 147 42.2
Divergent questions 073 20.0
Higher order questions 062 17.8
Probing questions 066 19.0
Total 348 100
Source: Authors own calculation
Table 3 shows the categories of questions observed during the study. In all, the study
observed 15 lessons made up of 35 minutes each. Of these 15 lessons observed, a total of 348
questions were used. This proves the assertion of Leven & Long (1981) that teachers use
between 300 and 400 questions each day. Out of these, 147, representing 42.0% were factual
questions 73 questions, representing 20.0% were divergent questions while 62 of the questions,
representing 17.8% were higher order questions. For probing questions, a total of 66 questions,
representing 19.0% were realized. This observation further proves the assertion of Cotton that
teachers predominantly ask lower order questions. Wilen (1991), also posits that the vast majority
of question asked by teachers require students to focus on memorization rather than questions
which foster students understanding.

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Research Question 2: What questioning techniques do English language teachers in Cape
Coast Senior High Schools use during their lessons?
The purpose of this question was to determine the questioning techniques English
language teachers use during their lessons. The techniques that were investigated were the
redirection of questions, allowance of wait time and distribution of questions in the classroom
during lessons.
Table 4: Students Views about Teachers Redirection of Questions

Variables Strongly % Agree % Disagree % Strongly %


Agree Disagree
Redirection of students 65 46.2 197 55.2 70 19.6 25 07.0
responses
Redirection of students 119 33.3 193 54.1 27 07.6 18 05.0
questions to the class
Source: Authors own calculation

Table 5: Teachers Views on Redirection of Questions

Variables Strongly % Agree % Disagree % Strongly %


Agree Disagree
Redirection of student 11 39.3 17 60.7 00 00.0 00 00.0
responses
Redirection of students 12 42.9 16 57.1 00 00.0 00 00.0
questions to the class
Source: Authors own calculation
From Table 4, it is evident that 65 students strongly agreed that their teachers usually
redirect students responses for other students to comment on while 197 agreed on the
statement. However, 70 students disagreed while 25 students strongly disagreed on the
statement. Also, 119 students strongly agreed that their teachers give them the opportunity to
answer questions asked by other students while 193 students agreed that their teachers give them
the opportunity to answer questions asked by their colleagues. This development is refreshing
because it makes the class interactive and students are motivated throughout the lesson. This is
in line with Tobin (1987), who posits that students participation in a lesson increases when they
are given the opportunity to comment on responses of their colleagues.
From Table 5, it was brought to the fore that all the teachers agreed that they redirect
students responses for other students to comment on. They further agreed that they give
opportunity to students to answer questions asked by their colleagues. This attests to the fact
that teachers use the pupil centered approach in teaching. This is good because Cotton claims
that redirection improves the quality of students responses. There was overwhelming evidence
that in terms of classroom interaction, teachers redirect students responses and students
questions for other students to comment on.

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Allowance of Wait Time

Source: Authors own calculation

Figure 1: Student Views on Teachers Use of Wait Time


From Figure 1, it will be realized that 29.1% of the students strongly agreed that teachers
allow a few seconds before calling on students to answer the questions, 41.2% agreed on this
while 23.0% disagreed and 6.7% disagreed. To ascertain the actual number of seconds the
teachers allow, I observed their lessons and recorded the seconds they allowed before calling on
the students to answer questions. Table 6 shows the results of this observation.

Table 6: Wait Time Allowed by Teachers (Observed)

Number Of Seconds Allowed No. %


1 Second 15 04.3
2 Seconds 53 15.2
3 Seconds 71 20.4
4 Seconds 72 20.6
5 Seconds 82 23.5
6 Seconds 22 06.3
Above 6 Seconds 34 09.7
Total 348 100.0
Source: Authors own calculation
From Table 6, out of the 348 questions asked, teachers allowed for a period of 1 to 3
seconds of wait time for 139 of the questions asked. For the rest of the questions asked, the
teachers allowed for more than 3 seconds before calling on the students to respond. It is evident
from Table 9 that instructional time was wasted on 139 questions. Rowe (1986) postulated that,
when wait time increases, the length of students responses increases between 300% to 700%
and the incidence of speculative thinking increases. It can be said that, probably, the teachers
who do not allow for adequate wait time are not aware of its immense benefits.

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Distribution of questions during lessons
The facts in Table 7 and 8 detail how teachers distribute their questions during English language
lessons
Table 7: Teachers view on distribution of questions

Variables Strongly % Agreed % Disagreed % Strongly %


Agreed Disagreed
Most questions to 1 3.6 00 00.0 8 28.6 19 67.9
brilliant students.

Calling students 3 10.7 7 25.0 5 17.9 13 46.4


name before asking
questions.
Source: Authors own calculation

Table 8: Students View on distribution of Questions

Variables Strongly % Agreed % Disagreed % Strongly %


Agreed Disagreed
Most questions to 57 16.0 50 14.0 147 41.2 103 28.9
brilliant students.

Calling students 80 22.4 126 35.3 102 28.6 49 13.7


name before asking
questions.
Source: Authors own calculation
During the observation, I realized that none of the teachers used mechanical systems
such as alphabetical order, sex, row or columns to distribute questions. However, results from
the questionnaire indicate that some teachers direct most of their questions to the brilliant
students in the class. While table 10 indicates that only one teacher out of the 28 agreed to
directing most of his questions to the brilliant students, table 11 shows that 107 students agreed
to the fact that their teachers direct most of their questions to the brilliant students. Even though
the percentage of those who agreed to this phenomenon is low, it still calls for concern as
teachers are required to give equal attention to low achievers as well as the high achievers in the
class. Cuneo (2008), observed that when questions are not evenly distributed, students who are
extremely bright and verbal monopolize the teaching and learning process as if it were a one to
one discussion with the teacher. During the study, it was also realized that teachers mostly called
the names of their students before asking their questions. Table 10 shows that 35.7% of the
teachers agreed to the fact that they call the names of their students before they pose their
questions. The fact that more than one-third of the teachers said this proves Acheampong(2001),

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assertion that educational planners, especially in African countries, including Ghana, have not
laid emphases on how teacher training institutions go about the training of teacher trainees so as
to equip them with the requisite skills to enhance critical thinking. In contrast, Table 11 shows
that 57.7% of the students agreed that teachers call their names before asking questions. This is a
worrying situation because when teachers call names before asking their questions, the other
students in the class would feel the question does not concern them and will therefore not pay
attention. This negatively affects classroom interaction.
Conclusions
In terms of key findings, it was found that teachers use all the categories of questions in their
lessons. However, teachers put more premium on factual questions. Most teachers redirect
students questions and students responses for other students to comment on. It was also
realized that even though most teachers allow adequate wait time before calling on students to
respond to questions, some teachers do not allow for wait time before calling on students to
answer questions. Teachers distribute their questions unequally as a large proportion of questions
are directed to the brilliant students.

Recommendations of the study


Considering the findings of the study, the following recommendations have been made.
1. Teachers who teach at teacher training colleges should teach teacher trainees the art of
using the right types of questions well. In fact, Questioning should be incorporated in the
curriculum for teacher trainees as a course of study.
2. Teachers should adopt learner centered methods of teaching and ask questions which
can cater for slow learners as well as fast learners and not over rely on the use of lower
order questions.
3. Ghana Education Service (GES) should organize in-service training and workshops to
teachers on the importance of wait time and redirection of questions.

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