Mexican Prose Narratives in the Finnish Language Classroom: Constructing a Third Space through Reading
Tovar Hernández, Nancy Selene (2015)
Tovar Hernández, Nancy Selene
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The present research relies on the assumption that introducing literature in the foreign language classroom can be beneficial because it exposes students to others’ social experiences and to new and foreign contexts. Literature stimulates learners’ imagination, cultural awareness, and analytical skills and promotes critical thinking. Thereby literature provides students with opportunities for reflection. What is more, prose narratives as literature in the foreign language classroom expose students to foreign socio-cultural phenomena such as different values, views of the world, others’ origins and traditions, which reading allows students to confront and experience others’ language and society. Likewise, students learn who they are by encountering and responding to that other through reading, which creates a dialogue between the text and the reader. This process can lead to a “third space” as Claire Kramsch (1993) calls it, an area of tension and strangeness, where students’ convictions are questioned but also where students can reflect on cultural issues and negotiate meanings collectively. This thesis explores how 15 Finnish adult students of Spanish B1 level, experience Mexican narratives and whether they create a “third space” through reading. This is done by analyzing audio-recordings stemming from workshops held in Vaasa 2014 and using classroom discourse as analysis method as, for example, developed by Cazden (2001). Data suggests that a hybrid third space was constructed through the participatory voices of students and activities. Reading, interactions, rewriting in teams and collective discussions expanded the space of learning as a social process. The students’ multiple forms of knowledge served as tools for giving meaning and connecting familiar knowledge with the “strange” in the narratives to create bridges of understanding. Also, the third space of reflection became manifest in the students’ awareness of their own values and how these affect their view on others’ values.