Session 11a

The accented curriculum: how to move beyond the anglophone-biased and Received Pronunciation (RP) curriculum Design
Dr Katerina Loukopoulou, Senior Academic Developer, Middlesex University London

This presentation explores the role of accents (foreign and regional) of students and staff both in the classroom and in syllabus content. My long-term objective is to develop a toolkit that facilitates collaboration between students to co-create an ‘accented curriculum’ within the context of inclusive learning and teaching.

Session summary:

Recent research shows that diversity and internationalisation matter for both home and international students (Jones and Killick, 2013). At the same time, diversity should neither be ‘exoticised’ (over-celebrated) nor pathologised, i.e. deemed as an ‘issue’. Unless a module title features the adjective ‘global’ or ‘world’ (e.g. ‘Global Media’ or ‘World Cinema’), then the syllabus content is often heavily biased towards Anglophone sources and audio-visual material with Received Pronunciation (RP). A striking example of this is the scepticism towards documentaries with an accented voice-over, such as The Story of Film (2011), directed and narrated by Mark Cousins, whose Irish-Scottish accent was deemed as an ‘issue’ by some critics. Within an HE context, the ambivalent reception of such a documentary might translate into a ‘concern’ for both international students and English students who might expect the use of RP from a ‘serious’ documentary. Similarly, students and staff with regional or foreign accents might encounter biased and prejudiced attitudes.

This paper explores the varied expectations by students and staff of what ‘inclusivity’ stands for when it comes to accents. Inspired by Hamid Nacify’s study An Accented Cinema (2001), my aim is to introduce a new emphasis on research about diversity and internationalisation in HEIs: the role of accents (foreign and regional) of students and staff both in the classroom and in syllabus content.

During this presentation, participants will experience pedagogical approaches that enable students and staff to reflect on and develop their intercultural competencies through an engagement with audio-visual examples from a range of ‘global’ and regional English accents .

The session aims to generate discussion and solicit contributions from the participants on teaching and learning strategies that diffuse the barriers related to the ‘accent prejudice’. I will conclude with the presentation of the first stages of a ‘toolkit for an accented curriculum’ that will be further developed after the session and shared with the participants and to be widely disseminated at Middlesex in the near future.

Jones, Elspeth and David Killick (2013) ‘Graduate Attributes and the Internationalised Curriculum: Embedding a Global Outlook in Disciplinary Learning Outcomes’, Journal of Studies in International Education, vol. 17, no. 2, 165-182.

Nacify, Hamid (2001) An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking (Princeton: Princeton University Press).