Heavy Metal, Stravinsky, and the Second Language Learner: Approaching the ‘Third Space’ Through Music Documentary Film

(You can download the complete article as a pdf by clicking here. The appendix and worksheets are available here)

In 2007, the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages published a report recommending the recalibration of collegiate FL instruction. The curriculum proposed by the MLA puts a strong emphasis on the development of transcultural competence, a concept that is theoretically anchored in postcolonial studies, in particular Homi Bhabha’s concept of the third space, which Kramsch (Cultural Component) has further refined to describe identity formation in second-language learning environments.

Inspired by this report, recent contributions to curricular issues in collegiate foreign language education have been devoted to the goal of transcultural and translingual competence (Bernhardt; Eigler et al.; Geisler; Kramsch; Melin et al.). However, the impressive body of opinion pieces, position papers and theoretical contributions that emerged in response to the report has only been sporadically supplemented with concrete pedagogical approaches. This essay takes a practical focus and describes how intermediate and advanced learners of German can work with music documentary films to develop transcultural and translingual competence. After providing a working definition of these concepts, and suggesting that music documentary films may provide adequate content to develop transcultural competence through raising the learner’s critical language awareness, this article will present interpretations and didactizations of two music documentary films that take advantage of Bhabha’s theoretical framework: Full Metal Village by the German-Korean director Sung-Hyung Cho and Rhythm Is It by Thomas Grube and Enrique Sanchez-Lensch.

4 thoughts on “Heavy Metal, Stravinsky, and the Second Language Learner: Approaching the ‘Third Space’ Through Music Documentary Film

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