Posted by: Admin | July 19, 2011

CONSIDERING GENDER IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING

Written by: Mobit (Post Graduate Student of UHAMKA Jakarta)

Introduction

English has been one of foreign language that is considered as complementary subject inIndonesia. It is different from other languages such as Ducth, Japanese, Mandarin, and so forth, those are not considered as international communication means. It makes English as central issues in the term of language teaching.

As a foreign language, English, particularly seen from education perspective is still has many problems. The problems do not appear in curriculum, teaching principle applied at school, teachers, evaluation only but also in term of the pattern of handout used at school, or even the level of teachers’ attention of teaching between sexes of the students.

These issues are very urgent to be exposed in the textbook balance and teaching process. Those have been some issues in some countries regarding with the diversity of gender of  students. The attention of the teacher when teaching also proves that teachers also consider gender in teaching and learning process. It is easy to understand that man and woman have some differences those cannot be the same. Meechan-Miller concludes that in most societies the language of man and women differs. Men and women also have gender-exclusive differences that cannot be applied equally.

The facts are beneficial finding corresponds to the language teaching field. Ideally, the findings are being huge consideration by some scholar and practitioner of language teaching. In order to the objective of teaching achieved through right ways.

Discussion

Female and male created differently. The differences spread on many aspects of human, even in language and the communication strategies. It is why that one who born equipped with normal facilities by God will do the communication well. Moreover, God facilitate female and male differently, particularly related to the ways of communication.

The female and male have some different characters those will enable them differ in communication.  Coates (1986) has observed the differences in which male and female have, called gender exclusive differences. From the study known some special characteristics had by the two genders. As consequences of the finding, treatments to the students should be comprehensively considered in teaching. The differences spread in to some country on the world, such asColumbia(Fromkin, 2007),Koasati,Japan(Meechan, 2005), andTurkeys(Diktas,2001).

The differences do not happen in merely one aspect of languages. There are some aspects which is proved different, such as in syntax, morphology, pronunciation and communicative strategies.

A tribe inMontana, the Gros Ventre, female constantly pronoun differently than male (Meechan-Miller). The word bread, for instance, is pronounced /kjá tsa/ by women and /dƷá tsa/. Meechan also found that verb form of a Muskogean language found in Louciana, deffers depending on the sex of the speaker. Female would speak /lakaf/ for “He is lifting it.” Whereas male would say /lakaws/. This is what Coates (1986) called as a gender exclusive.

In other instances, found there are asymmetries between male and female term in many languages (Fromkin, at all). The first is that when the male and the female pairs, the male form for the most part is unmarked. Whereas, the female form is created by adding a bound morpheme or by compounding. For instance, prince-princess, author-authoress, actor-actress, and so on.  The other linguistic asymmetry is that the facts of the most females continue to adopt the husband’s name in marriage, e.g. Mrs. Shinta Sujoko as the wife of Mr. Sujoko.

Moreover, the others were published by George Keith and John Shuttleworth in their book, Living Language (p. 222). They investigated that male and female have different styles in having conversation. They recorded that females tend to talk more than males. Females also talk too much and more polite. They are also indecisive/hesitant, easy to complain and nag, ask more questions, support each other, and are more co-operative.

Males tent to swear more and do not talk about emotions. They like talking about sports more,   females and machines in the same way and insult each other frequently. Males are also competitive in conversations and tend to dominate the conversations. They speak with more authority, give more commands, and interrupt more than female.

In addition, Robin Lakoff published a set of basic assumption about what marks out the language of women. They are, for instance, that women like using hedge in speaking. They often speak using phrase “sort of”, “kind of”, it seem like”. Females also seem more polite than men which is signed by use forms like, “Would you mind…”, “If you don’t mind” and also in tag form, like “You are going to dinner, aren’t you?”, etc. There are still many evidences investigated by Lackoff that indicates the language differences.

To find the data about the material distribution, Diktas (2011), has observed theTurkeyhandbook called My English 6, which is designed by the Turkish Ministry of Education and taught in the 6th grades in 2009-2010 academic years, in public schools ofTurkey.

In collecting a set of comprehensive data, he observed set out with eight different categories. These are: gender occurrences in illustrations and texts, amount of talk, analysis of the occupations, domestic roles and household responsibilities, adjectives used to qualify males and females, leisure/spare time activities, family roles and content analysis of the texts and pictures.

Here, I would like to present some those results tables of finding as a consideration of how much the implications occurred in teaching practice. The book analyzed by Diktas represents that the number of illustrations between males and females are so different. The number of illustration (table 1) of female is 56 (26%) and male is 101 (47%). Whereas female and male is 54 (25,5%). The number of text which describes female is 33 (44%) and male gets 42 (56%). It means that in the illustration and text of the book, male is more dominant than female.

Table 1.  Gender Occurrence in Illustration and Texts

Illustration

Text

Textbook

Female

Male

Female & Male

Total

Female

Male

Total

My English 6

56

(26.5%)

101

(47.8%)

54

(25.5%)

211

33

(44%)

42

(56%)

75

In the amount of talk by turn (table 2), female gets 419 (56.33 %) tokens and male gets 235 (43.67%) tokens. In this case, the talk in the book dominated by the female. Probably it is in line with what Keith and Shuttleworth stated that female talk more.

Table 2.  Amount of Talk in the 6th Grade Course book.

 

Male

Female

Amount of talk (by turns)

Tokens

%

Tokens

%

183

43.67

236

56.33

419

Regarding with the responsibilities at home, based on the following tables shown female really tend to dominant in the family work that is done at home. This point indicates that males have greater access to membership of such group than female because they have greater access to work and evening activities outside the home.

Table 3.  List of Family Activities and Responsibilities.

Family Activities and Responsibilities

FEMALE

MALE

Shopping (2) Shopping (1)
- Taking care of the pets (1)
Cooking/Baking(3) -
Taking care of the children(2) -
Making a barbecue (1)
Helping with the housework (1)
Cleaning the house (2) -
Washing the clothes (1)

More over, the following tables empower the previous hypothesis that males have greater access than female. Since the distribution occupation of males are wider than females.

Table 4. List of Occupations in the 6th Grade Course book. (My English 6)

FEMALE

MALE

Actor (3)**

Vet (1)**

Dancer(1)**

Teacher (7)*

Service attendant(1)*

Secretary(1)*

Singer(2)**

Dentist (1)**

Nurse (3)*

Archeologist (1)**

Gardener (1)**

Bus driver (1)**

Actor (2)*

Vet (1)*

Dancer (1)**

Teacher (1)*

Service attendant (2)*

Secretary (1)**

Singer (1)*

Doctor (3)*

Mechanic (1)*

Basketball player (3)*

Swimmer (1)**

Engineer (1)*

Astronaut (1)*

Banker (2)*

Football player (1)*

Detective (2)*

Farmer (1)*

Boxer (1)*

Pilot (3)*

Cook (7)*

Worker (1)*

Post officer (1)*

Baker (1)*

Stationer (1)*

Athlete (2)*

Police person (3)*

The following table describes the number of occupations spread on to female and male in the book. Based on the data, it is indicated that 12 (17.64%) of female have traditional occupations. It is less than the male who are 42 (61.76%). Where as, non-traditional occupation, females appear more than males.

Table 6. Traditional and Non-traditional Jobs in the 6th Grade Coursebook.

(My English 6)

 

TRADITIONAL OCCUPATIONS

NON-TRADITIONAL OCCUPATIONS

 

TOTAL OCCUPATIONS

FEMALE

12

%17.64

11

%16.17

23

%33.82

MALE

42

%61.76

3

%4.41

45

%66.18

These are some adjective used to describe female and male in the book. The description of male and female are dangerously different. The particular adjective will specially come to the certain gender, too. It appears that, females seem tend to complain and nag (Keith and Shuttleworth).

Table 7. Adjectives used for Females and Males.

Adjectives used for Females and Males

FEMALE

MALE

Thin

Sad

Beautiful (4)

Cheerful

Pretty

Ugly

Short

Busy

Lovely (3)

Bad

Small

Little

Bored

Thin

Sad

Friendly

Tall (2)

Strong

Fat (3)

Noisy

Handsome

Angry

Tired

Afraid

Happy (3)

Surprised

Sleepy

Famous

Then, the following tables describe the female and male spare time and leisure time activities. It indicates that male tend to like exercise/ sport more than female.

Table 8. Spare time and Leisure Time Activities in the 6th Grade Course book. (My English 6)

Distribution of Spare time and Leisure Time Activities

 

FEMALE

MALE

Walking

-

1

Doing exercise

1

2

The previous findings are very important to be considered by the both policy maker and education practitioners to be inputs in any projects regarding the language teaching. By considering the various facts that the men differs from women will enables the policy maker to construct the language curriculum, redefine the language teaching term, and also teaching principles and approaches.

 Teaching Implications

English language learning and teaching should be paid attention for some non-linguistics aspects such as; psychology, anthropology, sociolinguistics, education theory aspects (Stern, 1983). They take important roles since they are the foundation of achieving best results in language teaching and learning. Concerning with the gender consideration, psychologically of course, male and female students are extremely different. Consequently, based on the scholars finding it is urgent to redefine the language teaching term regarding to gender consideration.

Some important fields that needs to redefine is not only the handbook material performance or the numbers of material allocation between male and female, but also the span of teachers’ attention on the students and also the contribution of the male and female student in the classroom.

The case inTurkeyas observed by Diktas, indicates that the distribution of characteristics of female and male still not balance. It also tend to make female inferior than male. Therefore, author of handbook should consider and try to make balances between female and male. It is very important to apply in the course book since motivation consideration on female students.

Sunderland(1992) suggested to care of pedagogic grammar in which the material used should accommodates two sexes. He also highlight the dictionaries used in which should be accurate and useful for students. It means that dictionaries need to revise to make the meaning accurate and minimize the gender discrimination.

Regarding to the course book, he suggest to reorientation of gender in creating the book. Some question should be regarded are, what is the gender composition?, Who speak most in a mixed-sex dialog?, Who speaks first? What language functions do the males/ the females exemplify? Because females tend to be relatively rare, of lower status occupation, younger, more often defined in relation to the opposite sex, and relatively inactive, and quiter, speaking proportionally less and being responders in rather than initiators of conversation (Ethel, 1980; Perocca, 1984; Talansky, 1986; Zografou, 1990; Gupta and Yin (1990).

Sunderlandalso suggest to the teachers’ guide to be as consideration to make teaching process not discriminatory. Teacher should regard the sex status of the students during the process. That is why, writer and publisher, ideally give teachers teaching guides to reduce the unexpected activities in the classroom in which not regarding the sensitivity equal male and female.

Conclusion

The project of English learning and teaching involve many participants to create the accepted ways in teaching process. The fact that female and male have differences in language should be a consideration in writing book and teaching process. It is to get the equality in term of sex, due to hopefully it will enables particularly female student get motivated in learning. So because if the motivation, student will automatically create an autonomous study to get the result of learning.

In sum, by facilitating students balanced material and teachers’ guide completion such as suggested bySunderland, the student genders consideration would help student in make the objective of the learning come true.

 

References

Diktas, Mustafa, (2011), Gender Representation in EFL course book, 2nd International Conference on New Trends in Education and Their Implications 27-29 April, 2011 Antalya-Turkey, www.iconte.org

Language and Gender, www.zigzageducation.co.uk

Nation, ISP and J. Mecalister (2010) Language Curriculum design,Routledge,New York

Stern, H.H,  (1983) Fundamental Concept of language Teaching…..

Sunderland, Jane, Gender in the EFL classroom, ELT Journal Volume 46/ 1 January 1992, Oxford University Press, 1992.



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