Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Article 3: Making culture happen in the English language classroom

Tomalin raises some important points:

  • Where does culture fit? What discipline does it belong to?
  • Is there such a thing as a cultural curriculum or a cultural syllabus? When should we introduce the teaching of culture in ELT? Whose culture should we be teaching and what should we teach at what level?
  • How do materials address the issue of culture and is it adequate?
  • What are the best audio, text and visual aids for the teaching of culture?
  • What kind of methodology is best suited to the teaching of cultures at different levels?
  • What kinds of activities lend themselves to learning about and appreciating other cultures?

I think that culture goes hand in hand with learning a language as language itself is part of one's culture. For me, the underlying reason for learning a language is to better understand the culture. It's never quite right until you can communicate with the people in their own language. It may not be obvious but it is part of the curriculum. Teaching culture could be as simple as sharing the food, relevant movies, songs, books, magazines, idiomatic expressions, etc. Lots can be said looking at just magazines. The magazines here in Canada would not look the same as those in Japan. I don't teach ESL but in the FSL class, it's important to let the students try a crepe to see what kind of food French people eat. It may not be the same as what they eat but it would open up a conversation about the differences between the French culture and their own. 

There's so much we can do with culture that ties in with learning the language itself that it would be a shame to separate the two. It's like having a body but no soul!

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