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School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Mike Byram

Byram, M. (2015). Researching Cultures of Learning: International Perspectives on Language Learning and Education Researching Intercultural Learning: Investigations in Language and Education. ELT Journal 69(3): 331-334.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

At the end of the introduction to Researching Cultures of Learning, the editors suggest that this book can be usefully seen in conjunction with two others, one from 2011 entitled Researching Chinese Learners and one from 2013 (i.e. the same year as Researching Cultures of Learning) entitled Researching Intercultural Learning. Although there is no equivalent statement in the latter, I will follow the editors’ suggestion and consider the two 2013 books together. Ultimately, as we shall see, there is little distinction between the two books, despite their different titles. Many chapters in Researching Intercultural Learning make reference to ‘cultures of learning’ and do not take up explicitly the issues of ‘intercultural learning’ that the editors discuss in their introduction.

These are two substantial books, totalling some 600 pages, representing a major editing achievement on the part of Jin and Cortazzi, and are an indication of their wide knowledge of the field and rich network of researchers. A perusal of the Notes on Contributors in both books makes interesting reading in itself as it reveals the range of countries and researchers now involved.

I do not presume to summarize the contents of either book in detail since this is done more than adequately by the editors in the respective introductions. Suffice it to say that there are chapters from a large number of countries although the weight is on Europe and Asia, and the United Kingdom and China in particular. This is not surprising in view of the editors’ well-known and respected previous work over many years in China and with Chinese learners. To say that Africa, West Asia, and in particular South America are under-represented is not to criticize the editors since they do not set out to produce an international handbook, but it is none the less …

Notes

This is a long review in an influential journal for English language teachers. It refers to two books edited by two well known and respected researchers who focus on ‘cultures of learning’ in East and West, especially comparing China and Confucius Heritage Cultures with anglophone countries. The review suggests that the books include a wide range of topics but also a wide range of quality in the writing and topics chosen. The review also challenges the dichotomy of ‘East and West’ from within data and topics of the chapters of the books themselves.