Opinions on teaching aspects of culture?

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  • Aimee
    20 February, 2018 at 15:05
    • Total posts: 1

    I am currently doing research into teachers & professionals attitudes toward teaching aspects of culture- opinions, what the constraints are, and materials. I have a questionnaire that I was wondering if anyone would like to fill out, so that I can complete my research into difficulties including culture within lessons? It would be a huge help and only take a few minutes. Thank you.

    8 April, 2018 at 10:34
    • Total posts: 11

    Hi Aimee,
    Probably should have included a link to the questionnaire.
    I had this question come up in a paper I am working on.
    In my view, since most EFL students are going to stay in their country and communicate with people from other non-English speaking countries, there is limited point in teaching some Anglo-American model of culture. If you work for the British Council, it’s basically a requirement, as they exist to spread soft diplomacy. Of course many schools are accredited by the British Council and copy what they do, but I don’t think it really should apply for most schools.
    What’s of more use to language learners is the type of speakers they will encounter and their own culture. In most languages of course this matches up – Mandarin learners are probably going to use Mandarin more with Chinese natives than non-natives. With English this is no longer the case. In Europe, a German might have a lot of communication with French, Dutch, Swedish, Italian or Polish natives (among others) and therefore learning to navigate the cultural issues of these countries while being able to explain German culture are likely to be of more use. Similarly an Emirati in Dubai doesn’t really need to know British or American culture (although he has probably got the wealth to visit for extended periods). He most likely needs English to speak to South and South-east Asian colleagues and service staff. Of more use than say understanding cockney rhyming slang, could be understanding Hinglish.
    Of course teachers might know this to be the case, but do the students? I would say no. Every student I’ve ever spoken to ever (on this topic) is convinced that they need a British or American accent and to understand these cultures. It’s frustrating. Some have told me they don’t care what culture forms the basis of their learning, as long as they learn English. Some have told me that they would like to learn about places that they know nothing. I actually picked a country in Africa as an example, and expected to get negative responses from my students, who surprised me with their positivity. On the other hand, as this is in Moscow, I didn’t push my luck and suggest we learn about a Central Asian country (not intended as an insult to Central Asians – I lived in Uzbekistan for two years and had a fantastic time).
    How to teach culture is another matter. I think the most obvious way is to introduce examples in the texts and listenings that we provide and therefore exploiting cultural content just becomes a part of the task cycle.
    Just my thoughts
    Hope they are of use/interest

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