English and Culture

Why culture should be taugh?


Bilal Genc and Erdogan Bada in their work "CULTURE IN LANGUAGE LEARNING AND TEACHING", explain the benefits of incomporating culture at teaching a target language; their work states that:

  • Studying culture gives students a reason to study the target language as well as rendering the study of L2 meaningful (Stainer, 1971).
• From the perspective of learners, one of the major problems in language teaching is to conceive of the native speakers of target language as real person. Although grammar books gives so called genuine examples from real life, without background knowledge those real situations may be considered fictive by the learners. In addition providing access into cultural aspect of language, learning culture would help learners relate the abstrated sounds and forms of a language to real people and places (Chastain, 1971).
• The affect of motivation in the study of L2 has been proved by experts like Gardner and Lambert (1959, 1965, 1972). In achieving high motivation, culture classes does have a great role because learners like culturally based activities such as singing, dancing, role playing, doing research on countries and peoples, etc. The study of culture increases learners’ not only curiosity about and interest in target countries but also their motivation. For example, when some professors introduced the cultures of the L2s they taught, the learners’ interests in those classes increased a lot and the classes based on culture became to be preferred more highly than traditional classes. In an age of post-modernism, in an age of tolerance towards different ideologies, religions, sub-cultures, we need to understand not only the other culture but also our own culture. Most people espouse ethnocentric views due to being culture bound,
which leads to major problems when they confront a different culture. Being culture bound, they just try to reject or ignore the new culture. As if it is possible to make a hierarchy of cultures they begin to talk about the supremacy of their culture. This is because they have difficulty understanding or accepting people with points of view based on other views of the world. This point is also highlighted by Kramsch (2001) People who identify themselves as members of a social group (family, neighborhood, professional or ethnic affiliation, nation) acquire common ways of viewing the world through their interactions with other members of the same group. These views are reinforced through institutions like the family, the school, the workplace, the church, the government, and other sites of socialization through their lives. Common attitudes, beliefs and values are reflected in the way members of the group use language-for example, what they choose to say or not to say and how they say it (p.6).
• Besides these benefits, studying culture gives learners a liking for the native speakers of the target language. Studying culture also plays a useful role in general education; studying culture, we could also learn about the geography, history, etc. of the target culture (Cooke, 1970).