June 5, 1997 CONVOCATION ISSUE Vol . 9, No.
Grad seeks to improve second-language teaching
Roumiana Ilieva left Bulgaria in 1992 brimming with confidence about studying
in Canada. She was, after all, fluent in English and French.
But that wasn't enough to help her make the transition.
"I could speak the language, but I wasn't prepared for the cultural
differences," says Ilieva, who receives the dean's graduate convocation
medal in education for her research on how culture is addressed in language
teaching. She graduates with a master's degree this week.
Originally planning to study adult students' learning strategies, Ilieva
switched her focus, based on her personal experience, to finding ways to
improve second-language teaching for adult immigrants adapting to a new
culture. One solution is to incorporate what she calls 'culture exploration'
into the instruction.
"The problem is that culture can mean different things, and there are
many inconsistencies in how it is addressed in second-language teaching,"
says Ilieva, who taught adult students in Bulgaria and has also worked as
an ESL instructor for Vancouver's Mosaic Language Centre.
"By encouraging students in second-language programs to explore their
own levels of cultural awareness, participate in reflective and critical
classroom discussion, and consider the interrelation between language and
culture, they can better understand what they are experiencing during their
transitions - and use that knowledge to make that transition more effectively,"
Ilieva is involved with a major immigration project being carried out by
the joint SFU/UBC centre of excellence on immigration and integration. The
centre, one of four created nationally, was designed to guide immigration
policy for Vancouver into the 21st century.
Ilieva will continue her doctoral research at SFU.
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