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Culture And Foreign Language: Teaching And Learning

2798 words - 11 pages

In this subsection, different approaches to teaching culture within the foreign language teaching practice and different views of the term “culture” are going to be presented as a mean to explore the close relationship between culture and language and determine what is understood as culture in this study.

As it was mentioned above, there are different definitions of culture. These views have relied on the different language acquisition theories and teaching approaches that have emerged in the history of foreign language teaching. (Hinkel, 1999) Until the mid-twentieth century, culture was seen as the transmission of factual information about the target language, which consisted of statistical information about history, literature, arts, and geography among others. This View of teaching culture was known as “big C” or “achievement culture” and it was criticized because it only provided information rather than understanding of attitudes and values of the target language, (Kramsch, 1993 ; Tomalin and Stempleski, 1993; Kumaravadivelu, 2008).From this point of view, the teaching of culture is limited to the teaching of encyclopedic information about another country without recognizing the variability of behavior within the community of the target culture, or the participation of the individual in the creation of culture, or the interaction of language and culture in the construction of meaning, (Moore, 1996).
Later in the 60s, the view of culture emphasized on peoples´ way of living, their customs, habits and folklore and it was known in the foreign language teaching as “little c” or “ behavior culture” (Kramsch, 1993 ; Tomalin and Stempleski, 1993). This approach had more impact on theory than on practice because the emergence of behaviorism and structuralism. These two approaches to language teaching focused more on the structure rather than on the sociocultural aspects of the language. Therefore this attempt to integrate culture into language teaching failed due to their lack of relevance for the language teaching approaches of that time. (Stern, 1983; Corbett, 2003)
During the 70s and 80s, research on anthropology and sociolinguistics caused a greater emphasis more on the relationship between culture and language. Hinkel (1999) considers the works done by Hymes (1964), Gumperz (1972) and Kaplan (1966) a great contribution to this relationship as they privileged the communication within the cultural context. He cites Hymes (1972) mainly to state that the nature of the situations when communicative acts occur differs from one culture to another. This indicates that culture is interconnected with the ability to communicate appropriately in different social situations. This approach to culture teaching, therefore, implied to train students on how to employ appropriately the social rules of the target language such as the use of behavioral conventions, the use of silence, turn taking and politeness among others. (Byram & Morgan,...

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