Foreign language classroom
Culture in the Foreign language classroom. Cross-cultural communication. The importance of teaching culture in the foreign language classroom. The role of interactive methods in teaching foreign intercultural communication: passive, active, interactive.
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Trends come and go. This is not only true for subjects related to fashion, music, and art but also applies to academia. The sciences of language study and language teaching are no exception to this and have seen several trends and approaches develop and dissolve in the last decades. All of these previous approaches, such as the grammar-translation method, the audio-lingual method, or the direct method, have had an impact on how foreign languages are taught today.
To the end of 20th century the role of knowledge incredibly increased all over the world. The level of educated young people, possessing good knowledge of the language or, more generally, the information, begins to define the political and economic status of the states. And nowadays for successful work the states need people - skilled specialists meet the highest requirements of the modern society.
Therefore on the millennium border the education transforms to one of the sources of the most valuable strategic resources - human capital and knowledge that, after all, defines the level of development of the modern societies. And the main accelerator of this development becomes informatization. The society computerisation, in turn, is practically impossible without the computerization of the education system, so this problem by its importance gets out now to the first place in pedagogical science. The priority of this problem strengthens also by the fact, that it is essentially new.
Let's remind that the education is a result of mastering of the systematized knowledge, practice and skills. The education in 21st century requires new thinking, new philosophy, new judgment of everything. At a stage of transition to an information society the information and its highest form - the knowledge is the integral part of education, activity and life as a whole.
The English language became the global one. What does it mean? The term 'global English' is being used increasingly nowadays. It is a means of demonstrating that English is spoken in every part of the world, both among speakers within a particular country who share a first language, and between speakers from different countries. English is no longer spoken only by its native speakers in the UK, North America, Australia and New Zealand, and by those who learn English in order to communicate with native speakers. It is also spoken among non-native speakers within the countries like India, the Philippines and Singapore and internationally among non - native speakers from a wide range of countries throughout the world. This last use of English is often referred to as 'English as an International Language, and it is this kind of English which we will focus on here as it is the largest group of English speakers, numbering around 1.5 billion. Because of a fact that English is a global language and now people more and more are eager to learn it and speak fluently, a lot of efforts were made to the development of the new ways of learning this language.
The studying of the foreign languages begins mostly at school. To master a foreign language, pupils must be engaged in activities which are the characteristic of the language; they should hear the spoken language, speak, read, and write it. Classroom practices which are restricted to teacher's presentation of linguistic material (vocabulary, grammar) and the testing of pupils' knowledge cannot provide good learning. The teacher covers «content» but does not instruct pupils. The majority of pupils remains passive, and work only to memorize what the teacher emphasizes. We cannot but agree with the following words:»… most of the changes we have come to think of as 'classroom learning typically may not occur in the presence of a teacher. Perhaps it is during seatwork and homework sessions and other forms of solitary study that the major forms of any learning are laid down.» Nor can the teacher ensure pupils learning a foreign language if he uses only a textbook, a piece of chalk, and a blackboard.
To achieve effective classroom learning during the compulsory secondary education, the teacher must use all the accessories he has at his disposal in order to arouse the interest of his pupils and retain it throughout the lesson which is possible only if the pupils are actively involved in, the very process of classroom learning. And to teach a foreign language effectively the teacher needs teaching aids and teaching materials.
The fact, that material presented by the teacher in the most interesting form is acquired better and kept longer, is indisputable.
At modern abundance of ways and technologies of teaching the foreign languages it is quite difficult to prefer something one. Only the teacher's creative approach to the educational process and the combined application of various methods of training in this process can provide fast and easy mastering the subject under the study - a foreign language.
In today's globalized world, interconnectedness has not merely affected numerous aspects of our daily lives in the physical sense of transcending borders. It has above all confronted our information-based societies with the necessity to find a common voice in order to bridge language barriers - not only for the simple exchange of information, but also for the mutual creation of knowledge. Multilingualism is a reality in various kinds of community, with the European Union being a prominent example, and without any doubt it represents an asset in regard to cultural diversity and richness. However, this reality also brings about new `emerging' language repertoires developing as a result of the immediate processes of language contact induced by communicative need.
Culture, aside from its reference to the artefacts of a given community, involves socially acquired knowledge. This knowledge is organized in culture-specific ways which normally frame our perception of reality such that we largely define the world through the filter of our world view.
In our dynamic, multicultural world, the ability of the second language or foreign language students to empathize, tolerate, and appreciate the cultures of other peoples is ideal. This ability or competence will be shown to extend beyond the four classroom walls after the acquisition of language has been accomplished. The role of the teacher in developing this new competence will be established.
Recently, two general approaches to teaching foreign languages have developed: The communicative approach, with its principal objective of increasing communicative competence, and the intercultural approach, with a focus on developing intercultural competence. Although the two approaches overlap in several areas and share certain characteristics, they also differ in aspects crucial to foreign language teaching, for instance the desired outcome or the type of model speaker. In the academic world, the high number of publications on intercultural competence seems to predict the implementation of the intercultural approach, at least in theory.
Thanks to the interactive technological tools of the Internet and e-mail, an increasing number of the international projects and cross-cultural contacts indicate the need of installing of skills of intercultural communication. After all, the communication at cross-cultural level allows to have the productive interpersonal contacts and promotes increasing of the level of mutual understanding between people.
The subject of the research work: the role of the interactive methods in training the cross-cultural communication is quite difficult and was a subject of the scientific works of many authors, namely: Avetisyan N.G., Astafurov T.N., Bim I.L. Ikonnikov N.K. etc
In the course of writing of a research paper it will be necessary to solve the following problems:
- to give the concept and to reveal the essence of an interactive method of training;
- to give the concept and to reveal the essence of cross-cultural interlingua communication;
- to define the role of an interactive method in the course of training of the intercultural communication.
The object and subject of this research work is the interactive method of training in the light of intercultural communication.
The relevance of cases under discussion is absolutely obvious. The application of the interactive methods and approaches in training the foreign languages will help quicker and more qualitatively study the language and culture of other people.
1. Intercultural communication in English language education
1.1 Culture in the Foreign language classroom
It is an indisputable fact that in the 21st century English has become a global lingua franca with non-native speakers of the language outnumbering its native speakers. This calls for the acknowledgement of the language as being dissociated from its primary lingua-cultural roots and transferred to new communicative contexts with ever-changing constellations of interactants. The increased mobility of people and the globalisation of business activity have made it imperative that corporate and public sector organisations and institutions are aware of the importance of intercultural communication and develop relevant skills and competences. Every workplace benefits from and needs employees who have a good understanding of intercultural communication issues, whether in an international or local multicultural/multinational community.
Culture has taken an important place in foreign language teaching and learning studies. It has been widely recognized that culture and language is used as a main medium through which culture is expressed. However, «pure information» is useful but does not necessarily lead learners' insight; whereas the development of people's cultural awareness leads them to more critical thinking. Most frequently confronted that students to a great extend know the rules of language, but are not always able to use the language adequately as it requires since they are not knowledgeable enough about the target culture. Bearing all this in mind, the aim of this research work has been to provide necessary information for the foreign language teachers and learners so that they can establish a good connection with the target language and its culture.
It has been seen that language is much more than the external expression and communication of internal thoughts formulated independently of their verbalization. In demonstration the inadequacy and inappropriateness of such a view of language, attention has already been drawn to the ways in which one's mother tongue is intimately and in all sorts of details related to the rest of one's life in a community and to smaller groups within that community. This is true of all peoples and all languages; it is a universal fact about language.
Anthropologists speak of the relations between language and culture. It is, indeed more in accordance with reality to consider language as a part of culture. «Culture» is here being used in the anthropological sense to refer to all aspects of human life insofar as they are determined or conditioned by membership in a society. The fact that a man eats and drinks is not itself cultural; it is a biological necessity that he does so for the preservation of life. That he eats particular foods and refrains from eating other substances, though they may be perfectly edible and nourishing, and that he eats and drinks at particular times of day and in certain places are matters of culture, something «acquired by man as a member of society», according to the now-classic definition of culture by the English anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor. As thus defined and envisaged, culture covers a very wide area of human life and behaviour; and language is manifestly a part, probably the most important part, of it.
Although the faculty of language acquisition and language use is innate and inherited, and there is legitimate debate over the extent of this innateness, every individual's language is «acquired by man as a member of society», along with and at the same time as other aspects of that society's culture in which he is brought up. Society and language are mutually indispensable. Language can have developed only in a social setting, however this may have been structured, and human society in any form even remotely resembling what is known today or is recorded in history could be maintained only among people speaking and understanding a language in common use.
Though the use of language, any skills, techniques, products, modes of social control, and so on can be explained, and the end results of anyone's inventiveness can be made available to anyone else with the intellectual ability to grasp what is being said. Spoken language alone would thus vastly extend the amount of usable information in any human community and speed up the acquisition of new skills and the adaptation of techniques to changed circumstances or new environments. With the invention and diffusion of writing, this process widened immediately, and the relative permanence of writing made the diffusion of information still easier. Printing and the increase in literacy only further intensified this process. Modern techniques for almost instantaneous transmission of the written and spoken word all over the globe, together with the rapid translation services now available between the major languages in the world, have made it possible for usable knowledge of all sorts to be made accessible to people almost anywhere in the world in a very short time. This accounts for the great rapidity of scientific, technological, political, and social change in the contemporary world. All of this, whether ultimately for the good or ill of mankind, must be attributed to the dominant role of language in the transmission of culture.
The increased mobility of people and the globalisation of business activity have made it imperative that corporate and public sector organisations and institutions are aware of the importance of intercultural communication and develop relevant skills and competences. Every workplace benefits from and needs employees who have a good understanding of intercultural communication issues, whether in an international or local multicultural/multinational community.
Intercultural Communication is a relatively new field of study and incorporates a fascinating mix of elements. As well as giving you a critical understanding of interculturality, this course provides research training in the collection of insights and data. The course takes an unusually multi-disciplinary approach, enabling students with interests as diverse as business, education, journalism, languages, linguistics or politics to approach the subject from their particular perspective. Through its multi-disciplinary character, the MA brings together students and staff from diverse backgrounds, so that participation in the course is a significant intercultural experience in itself.
The course will interest students and practitioners as well as those wishing to pursue careers in academia, communication departments of multinational organisations, human rights organisations, international management and relations, intercultural training, consultancy, marketing and international development. It will also appeal to those who wish to become more effective communicators in other professions, or act as cultural consultants.
Culture has always been part of foreign language teaching. In fact, only during a very short period of time after the Second World War, was it common belief shared among foreign language scholars that cultural topics should not be covered in the language classroom. However, for most of the time modern languages have been taught, if and how culture should be part of language teaching has been discussed by many theorists and many perspectives and approaches have influenced the general argument. There are two main reasons as to why the role of culture has changed often in foreign language teaching. The debate was influenced by changes within the general objectives of foreign language teaching at the respective time, which were strongly shaped by political objectives of education and language teaching. Additionally, changes in the understanding of culture and its definition had an impact on how it was taught in foreign language education.
Thus, the history of language teaching influenced what is understood by today's intercultural approach to teaching.
Before, however, it is necessary to provide some information on the other aspect that immensely influences how culture is taught in language classes today: The understanding of culture itself.
To define culture has always been difficult for scientists and there is still no consensus on a definition. Two reasons can explain that. Firstly, culture is relevant to many scientific and academic disciplines. Therefore, many perspectives and theories can be implemented in its definition.
Secondly, culture is a dynamic construct, changing all the time. A definition, therefore, can only grasp its basic outlines. Thus, many definitions have been suggested, and for a long time, culture has been understood as the products of a country, such as music, architecture, literature, paintings, clothes, etc. This understanding of culture is often referred to as high culture (Hochkultur) or Culture with a capital C.
In recent decades, however, the definition of culture as something static and product-oriented has been regarded as insufficient. It does not consider all members of a nation, but merely those that belong to a certain social group. Neither does it regard people's behaviors, attitudes, or values. Cultural artifacts are only those parts of culture that are obvious and observable. As a consequence, another notion of culture has been added to the definition: culture with a small c. The metaphor of an iceberg to understand culture has been used by numerous theorists. The visible part is the one that relates to Culture with a capital C, the invisible part represents the notion of culture with a small c. An intercultural approach to foreign language teaching recognizes the relevance of both notions of culture and the relationship of the two. Just like the invisible part of an iceberg, the invisible part of culture is the foundation of cultural representations. Thus, certain values, attitudes, and beliefs of a group of people are displayed in their music, traditions, and literature. Foreign language teaching today is not satisfied with a display of a culture's visible representations, but also wants to tackle its foundation. Culture can only be explained and understood if the connection between visible and invisible is considered a unit.
With a concentration on the visible representations of culture only, cliches and stereotypes are reinforced. Students would only experience the otherness of a foreign culture and but not understand its motivations. Consequently, a definition of culture today considers «a whole way of life» [11, 48].
This definition has several consequences for the role of culture in the foreign language classroom. First of all, the concept of national cultures is no longer sufficient. A national approach to culture neglects the multicultural nature of societies and the culture of sub-groups within societies, such as youth culture11. Consequently, topics such as race, class, age, and gender are relevant for the foreign language classroom. Secondly, if culture is the whole way of life, it cannot be considered a static concept anymore. People's lives change and although a nation's or group's past always plays a role in modern life, communication with a person of the 50s will differ from communication with a person of the 21st century.
To summarize, culture today is understood as a heterogeneous, multi-layered, and dynamic construct.
Spencer-Oatey acknowledges these features of culture: `Culture is a fuzzy set of basic assumptions and values, orientations to life, beliefs, policies, procedures and behavioural conventions that are shared by a group of people, and that influence (but do not determine) each member's behaviour and his/her interpretation of the `meaning' of other people's behaviour'.
This definition gives an impression as to the task that lies ahead for language teachers. If culture influences the way people from the target group of native speakers think, act, feel, and experience others, the same applies to students in the language classroom.
Language scholars agree on the importance of culture in language classrooms and it has become one of the main research areas in foreign language study and teaching. This too, is justified by political and societal conditions. Contact between cultures increases via direct and indirect exchange, the transfer of products, and social networks. Different cultures live together, work together, and go to school together. In brief, globalization has found its way into schools and one of the tasks of education, including language education, is to prepare students for this globalized world. An intercultural approach to language teaching gives one outlook on how this can be achieved.
Just like culture, what is understood by the intercultural approach and its desired outcome intercultural competence is difficult to define. Partly, this is because several academic fields acknowledge the importance of intercultural competence, and it is not only relevant in foreign language study and teaching. Thus, perspectives and input from areas such as business and marketing, social studies, linguistics, and cultural studies have had an effect on what is understood by intercultural competence today. This illustrates the importance of intercultural competence in our world and shows that it is not only a task to be mastered in the language classroom.
Intrecultural communication aims to prepare students to familiarize them with traditions and customs of the other country and to make sure they can communicate with native speakers. Communicative competence, i.e. skills such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing, are the main focus in the lessons, spiced up with cultural content.
The knowledge about the target culture is necessary to communicate successfully. This includes having a working knowledge of art, but also an understanding of the political and educational system, as well as history and geography of the target countries. Since culture is only considered as declarative knowledge, the methods used are very often traditional. Thus, it is assumed that through study and analysis of cultural products students will automatically learn about the target countries' culture.
The cultural content of language teaching materials, techniques for increasing awareness of the culture of the target language community, as well as the culture of English as an International Language, have been debated in many academic forums.
In recent years, discussions on culture have expanded from a focus on `culture as content' to encompass the cultural appropriateness of various language teaching methodologies. This expansion in focus was probably fuelled by data emerging from classrooms across the world, where the teacher's/school's chosen methodology showed a lack of `fit' with the students' and teachers' cultural norms, and their expectations of what `good' language teaching needs to involve.
Understanding culture (which may refer to nationality or certain aspects of an individual's personality) is necessary for intercultural communication.
The purpose of this work is to investigate and evaluate classroom «community building» activities as a method for building intercultural communication in an educational context. In order to accomplish intercultural communication, it is necessary to have increased cultural sensitivity and awareness, improved ways of communicating with others, and new perspectives on various aspects of culture.
Intercultural communication is the verbal and nonverbal interaction between individuals of different cultures, both at the community level and individual level. Culture is traditionally described as a national, ethnic, social class, and gender. However, culture is more complicated than these simple categories; cultural differences exist in individuals, and are derived from individual cultures such as beliefs, values and norms.
The goal of intercultural communication is to encourage individuals to consider their differences and to share various cultural meanings.
1.2 Cross-cultural communication
language classroom interactive communication
Today it is obvious that the mankind develops on the way of expansion and interaction of the various countries, the people and cultures. This process covers various spheres of public life.
As the world becomes more and more cultural various, the importance of the subjects connected with cross-cultural communication and its efficiency grows together.
Data on culture are necessary to overcome cross-cultural distinctions and to develop the cross-cultural relations.
Cross-cultural communication is an adequate mutual understanding of two participants of the communicative act belonging to different national cultures.
Acquisition of skill of cross-cultural communication and attention emphasis on cultural distinctions allows us to learn how to behave in various cross-cultural situations.
Many scientists define skills of cross-cultural communication as success of interaction with carriers of other cultures.
The key moment of many existing training programs are the friendly communication cultural relations. These programs suggest to include in training cultural aspects when forming cross-cultural competence.
Examples of such cultural aspects are language, social culture, national traditions, customs and kitchen as they are reflected and in the person, a family, society and are an important factor of formation of competence of cross-cultural communication.
It is necessary to allocate six main problems which disturb effective cross-cultural communication.
First, the wrong belief of people that they can communicate freely with each other owing to the similarity, strongly disturbs understanding at cross-cultural communication.
The second problem are language distinctions. For cross-cultural communication not enough superficial phrase knowledge of language.
The third problem - wrong nonverbal interpretations. In any culture the nonverbal behavior makes the main part of communicative messages. But it is very difficult to understand nonverbal language of foreign culture completely. The wrong interpretation of nonverbal behavior can easily lead to misunderstanding which breaks communication process.
Prejudices and stereotypes are fourth «stumbling block». The excessive support on stereotypes can objectively prevent to look at other people.
The fifth problem party are cultural values. Various values can cause negative estimates.
And, at last, the increased alarm and tension. Episodes of cross-cultural communication often lead to alarm and stresses that also is reflected in efficiency of cross-cultural communication.
Role of modern interactive technologies and training methods in formation of cross-cultural competence - preparation of the person for life in the polycultural environment, understanding possessing developed feeling and respect of other cultures, in ability to live in peace and a consent with other people of different nationalities and beliefs.
In the course of preparation being trained to cross-cultural communication it is recommended to follow the following principles:
1. To apply the actual authentic written sources reflecting not only a cultural cut of the nation in a diachrony, but also synchronism, without forgetting that culture - concept dynamic.
2. To address not only to written sources, but also to a rich visual and sound number of manifestations of foreign culture.
3. To carry out the principle of an identification with the other culture and its phenomena, to develop cross-cultural empathy, carrying out the comparative analysis with native culture.
4. To immerse being trained in foreign-language environment, applying interactive methods of teaching with the native speaker or the carriers of other culture.
5. To observe a pragmatically component of cross-cultural competence, skills.
1.3 The importance of teaching culture in the foreign language classroom
Foreign language learning is comprised of several components, including grammatical competence, communicative competence, language proficiency, as well as a change in attitudes towards one's own or another culture. For scholars and laymen alike, cultural competence, i.e., the knowledge of the conventions, customs, beliefs, and systems of meaning of another country, is indisputably an integral part of foreign language learning, and many teachers have seen it as their goal to incorporate the teaching of culture into the foreign language curriculum. It could be maintained that the notion of communicative competence, which, in the past decade or so, has blazed a trail, so to speak, in foreign language teaching, emphasizing the role of context and the circumstances under which language can be used accurately and appropriately, `falls short of the mark when it comes to actually equipping students with the cognitive skills they need in a second-culture environment
In other words, since the wider context of language, that is, society and culture, has been reduced to a variable elusive of any definition-as many teachers and students incessantly talk about it without knowing what its exact meaning is-it stands to reason that the term communicative competence should become nothing more than an empty and meretricious word, resorted to if for no other reason than to make an «educational point.» In reality, what most teachers and students seem to lose sight of is the fact that `knowledge of the grammatical system of a language grammatical competence has to be complemented by understanding (sic) of culture-specific meanings communicative or rather cultural competence'.
The teaching of culture is not akin to the transmission of information regarding the people of the target community or country-even though knowledge about (let alone experience of the «target group» is an important ingredient. It would be nothing short of ludicrous to assert that culture is merely a repository of facts and experiences to which one can have recourse, if need be. Furthermore, what Kramsch hers English as a foreign language seems to insinuate is that to learn a foreign language is not merely to learn how to communicate but also to discover how much leeway the target language allows learners to manipulate grammatical forms, sounds, and meanings, and to reflect upon, or even flout, socially accepted norms at work both in their own or the target culture. Language teachers believe that culture teaching has value. It has long been the view of language theorists and researchers that a cultural component is essential in creating a complete and comprehensive language syllabus. It is believed that language students will acquire the cultural tools necessary to function in the target culture outside of school or in the «real» world.
Culture can be taught at the start of a language program even if it has to be taught in the first language or L1 to start. To accomplish this, Sellami proposes a three-stage approach where the primary stage of culture teaching occurs at the beginner level. At this level, language learners are merely introduced to cultural facts and are just becoming acquainted with the target culture. From there, learners progress through to the second stage which is suitable for students who have an intermediate level of language ability. Here, students begin to compare their own culture with that of the target culture and «attempts at understanding, empathy, appreciation and acceptance of the other are still in their embryo stage». The final stage is appropriate for the advanced language student as it involves a more in depth contact with the target culture and the aims of the previous second stage (as stated above) are finally being accomplished.
In this part, we will briefly examine the relationship between language and culture and see why the teaching of culture should constitute an integral part of the English language curriculum. To begin with, language is a social institution, both shaping and shaped by society at large, or in particular the `cultural niches', in which it plays an important role. Thus, if our premise is that language is, or should be, understood as cultural practice, then ineluctably we must also grapple with the notion of culture in relation to language. Language is not an `autonomous construct', but social practice both creating and created by `the structures and forces of the social institutions within which we live and function'. Certainly, language cannot exist in a vacuum; one could make so bold as to maintain that there is a kind of «transfusion» at work between language and culture. Amongst those who have dilated upon the affinity between language and culture, it is Duranti who succinctly encapsulates how these two interpenetrate: to be part of a culture means to share the propositional knowledge and the rules of inference necessary to understand whether certain propositions are true (given certain premises). To the propositional knowledge, one might add the procedural knowledge to carry out tasks such as cooking, weaving, farming, fishing, giving a formal speech, answering the phone, asking for a favor, writing a letter for a job application.
Culture and communication are inseparable because culture not only dictates who talks to whom, about what, and how the communication proceeds, it also helps to determine how people encode messages, the meanings they have for messages, and the conditions and circumstances under which various messages may or may not be sent, noticed, or interpreted… Culture…is the foundation of communication.
Moreover, given Duranti's definition of culture as `something learned, transmitted, passed down from one generation to the next, through human actions, often in the form of face-to-face interaction, and, of course, through linguistic communication', it is patently obvious that language, albeit a subpart of culture, plays a pivotal role. Bourdieu has emphasised the importance of language not as an autonomous construct but as a system determined by various socio-political processes. For him, a language exists as a linguistic habitus, as a set of practices that imply not only a particular system of words and grammatical rules, but also an often forgotten or hidden struggle over the symbolic power of a particular way of communicating, with particular systems of classification, address and reference forms, specialized lexicons, and metaphors (for politics, medicine, ethics).
At any rate, to speak means to choose a particular way of entering the world and a particular way of sustaining relationships with those we come in contact with. It is often through language use that we, to a large extent, are members of a community of ideas and practices. Thus, as a complex system of classification of experience and `an important window on the universe of thoughts'; as a link between thought and behaviour; and as `the prototypical tool for interacting with the world'. The language is intertwined with culture. In the past, language and culture were lumped together as if they automatically implied each other. Wilhelm von Humboldt, an eminent diplomat and scholar, once wrote:
The spiritual traits and the structure of the language of a people are so intimately blended that, given either of the two, one should be able to derive the other from it to the fullest extent…Language is the outward manifestation of the spirit of people: their language is their spirit, and their spirit is their language; it is difficult to imagine any two things more identical.
But what exactly is culture? As Nemni and Street suggest, this is not an easy question to answer, particularly in an increasingly international world. On a general level, culture has been referred to as `the ways of a people'. This view incorporates both `material' manifestations of culture that are easily seen and `non-material' ones that are more difficult to observe, as Saville-Troike notes. Anthropologists define culture as `the whole way of life of a people or group. In this context, culture (sic) includes all the social practices that bond a group of people together and distinguish them from others'. According to Peck, Culture is all the accepted and patterned ways of behavior of a given people. It is that facet of human life learned by people as a result of belonging to some particular group; it is that part of learned behavior shared with others. Not only does this concept include a group's way of thinking, feeling, and acting, but also the internalized patterns for doing certain things in certain ways….not just the doing of them. This concept of culture also includes the physical manifestations of a group as exhibited in their achievements and contributions to civilization. Culture is our social legacy as contrasted with our organic heredity. It regulates our lives at every turn.
It could be argued that culture never remains static, but is constantly changing. In this light, Robinson dismisses behaviourist, functionalist, and cognitive definitions of culture and posits a symbolic one which sees culture as a dynamic `system of symbols and meanings' whereby `past experience influences meaning, which in turn affects future experience, which in turn affects subsequent meaning, and so on'. It is this dynamic nature of culture that has been lost sight of and underrated in foreign language teaching and ought to be cast in a new perspective. Learning a foreign language can be subversive of the assumptions and premises operating in the `home culture', which requires that learners be offered the opportunity for «personal growth,» in terms of `personal meanings, pleasures, and power'. As Kramsch notes, `from the clash between…the native culture and…the target culture, meanings that were taken for granted are suddenly questioned, challenged, problematized'. However, in order to question and reinterpret second language culture, «L1 observers» must first become aware of what it means to participate in their own culture and what the contents of culture are.
Apart from Brooks, whose work we mentioned earlier on, several other scholars such as Lado, Goodenough, Kallenbach & Hodges, Straub and others have provided a framework within which to identify the nature of culture, be it home culture or target culture. For instance, Goodenough summarizes the contents of culture briefly quoted below:
· The ways in which people have organized their experience of the real world so as to give it structure as a phenomenal world of forms, their percepts and concepts.
· The ways in which people have organized their experience of their phenomenal world so as to give it structure as a system of cause and effect relationships, that is, the propositions and beliefs by which they explain events and accomplish their purposes.
· The ways in which people have organized their experiences so as to structure their world in hierarchies of preferences, namely, their value or sentiment systems.
· The ways in which people have organized their experience of their past efforts to accomplish recurring purposes into operational procedures for accomplishing these purposes in the future, that is, a set of «grammatical» principles of action and a series of recipes for accomplishing particular ends.
The question arises, however, that if language and culture are so intricately intertwined, why should we overtly focus on culture when there are other aspects of the curriculum that need more attention? To begin with, we should concern ourselves with culture because, even though it is inherent in what we teach, to believe that whoever is learning the foreign language is also learning the cultural knowledge and skills required to be a competent L2/FL speaker `denies the complexity of culture, language learning, and communication'. Second, it is deemed important to include culture in the foreign language curriculum because it helps avoid the stereotypes that Nemni has discussed and the present study has intimated. The third reason for expressly teaching culture in the foreign language classroom is to enable students to take control of their own learning as well as to achieve autonomy by evaluating and questioning the wider context within which the learning of the target language is embedded. Tomalin & Stempleski, modifying Seelye's `seven goals of cultural instruction', may provide an answer pertinent to the question posed. According to them, the teaching of culture has the following goals and is of and in its English as a foreign language a means of accomplishing them:
· To help students to develop an understanding of the fact that all people exhibit culturally-conditioned behaviours.
· To help students to develop an understanding that social variables such as age, sex, social class, and place of residence influence the ways in which people speak and behave.
· To help students to become more aware of conventional behaviour in common situations in the target culture.
· To help students to increase their awareness of the cultural connotations of words and phrases in the target language.
· To help students to develop the ability to evaluate and refine generalizations about the target culture, in terms of supporting evidence.
· To help students to develop the necessary skills to locate and organize information about the target culture.
· To stimulate students' intellectual curiosity about the target culture, and to encourage empathy towards its people.
This list of goals is definitely an improvement on Huebener's list of `desirable outcomes'. At any rate, the aim of teaching culture is `to increase students' awareness and to develop their curiosity towards the target culture and their own, helping them to make comparisons among cultures'. These comparisons, of course, are not meant to underestimate foreign cultures but to enrich students' experience and to sensitise them to cultural diversity. `This diversity should then be understood and respected, and never…over (sic) or underestimated'. In the next chapter, we will consider different ways of teaching (about) culture. As Kramsch succinctly puts it, teachers' and learners' task is `to understand in ever more sensitive ways why they talk the way they do, and why they remain silent: this type of knowledge Clifford Geertz calls local knowledge'.
2. The role of interactive methods in teaching foreign intercultural communication
2.1 Training methods
Learners just beginning a foreign language often underestimate how long it takes to gain communicative proficiency in a foreign language. There is no getting around the fact that language learning requires lots of time on task. Fortunately today's technologies, when used effectively, can greatly increase a learner's contact time with the foreign language.
Even if you succeed in memorizing these five words today, chances are pretty good that you will not remember any of them tomorrow. It is hard to retain a list of vocabulary words that have no association with anything real. However, when we link language to an experience, then we have a better chance of remembering it. Many of us can recall the specific moment when we learned a certain word or phrase in another language.
Students in my English classes sometimes ask for my opinion on the best method of learning a foreign language. The answer I give is always the same: learning a foreign language can never be quick and easy. There is no single method that can guarantee success.
In the Callan Method, the teacher talks a lot and makes the students repeat questions and answers. By contrast, in the Silent Way Method, invented by Dr Caleb Gattcgno, the teacher tries not to talk at all! The teacher uses pictures, diagrams, objects to give the students problem-solving activities. The idea is that students learn better if they can discover the rules by themselves. Certainly that is an important part of learning. But I'm not sure it can guarantee success.
I think that it is wrong to look for a method of teaching/learning that gives all the answers. Often, the method is not so important. Obviously, you need good materials (e.g.: a good course book, etc) that arc interesting and dear. And you need a good teacher too. The individual qualities of the teacher are very important. The teacher and the students must have a good relationship. The students must like their teacher. That is one important way to help make learning fun.
At the same time, we have to recognize that you can't make progress without doing some old-fashioned hard work. There must be a method involved in teaching and learning, but the same method doesn't work for everyone. People are different and they have different reasons for wanting to learn. The method will naturally change depending on the purpose of the lesson. However, it is important that each lesson should have a clear objective. The material should be presented in a contcxt. There should be practice and consolidation work. Students should use all four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Training method (from Old Greek мЭипдпт - a way) - is the interaction process between the teacher and pupils, that resulted in a transferring and assimilation of knowledge, the skills and habits, provided by the content of training.
Training reception is a short-term interaction between the teacher and the pupils, directed on transfer and assimilation of the concrete knowledge, ability, and skill.
According to the developed tradition in pedagogics the methods of training are subdivided into three groups:
- Methods of the organization and implementation of educational and informative activity:
1. Verbal, didactic, practical (according to the source of a statement of a training material).
2. Reproductive explaining-illustrative, searching, research, problematic, etc. (according to the nature of educational and informative activity).
3. Inductive and deductive (according to the logic of a statement and perception of a training material);
- Control methods of the efficiency of educational and informative activity: oral, written checks and self-examinations of productivity of mastering by knowledge and skills;
- Methods of stimulation of the educational and informative activity: a certain encouragement in the formation of motivation, a sense of responsibility, obligations, interests in mastering by knowledge and skills.
In the practice of training there are also other approaches to the definition of methods of training, based on the degree of sensibleness of perception of a training material: passive, active, interactive, heuristic and others. These definitions demand their further specifications since the process of training can't be passive and not always become a eureka for pupils.
The passive method is a form of interaction of pupils and the teacher in which the teacher is the main character and the conductor of a lesson, and pupils act as the passive listeners, tutors.
The communication of the teacher with his\her pupils during the passive lessons is carried out by means of asking questions, line controls, examinations, tests etc.
From the point of view of modern pedagogical technologies and the efficiency of learning the training material by pupils, the passive method is considered the most inefficient, but, despite of it, it has also some pluses. For the teacher it is rather easy to prepare for this kind of lessons and the opportunity to represent more teaching materials in such a limited period of time that we call lessons.
Taking into account these pluses, many teachers prefer the passive method to the others. It is necessary to tell that in certain cases this approach successfully works in the hands of the skilled teacher, especially if pupils have the accurate purposes directed on thorough studying of a subject.
The lecture is the most widespread type of a passive lesson. This type of a lesson is widespread in higher education institutions where the adults, having the accurate purposes deeply to study a subject.
The active method is a form of interaction of pupils and the teacher when the teacher and pupils interact with each other during a lesson and pupils here are not the passive listeners, but the active participants of the lesson. During the passive lesson the teacher becomes the main character and the manager of a lesson, but at the active lessons the pupils and the teacher have equal rights.
If the passive methods assumed authoritative style of interaction, the active methods assume democratic style. We learn by doing. Research shows that active learning is much better recalled, enjoyed and understood. Active methods require us to `make our own meaning', that is, develop our own conceptualisations of what we are learning. During this process we physically make neural connections in our brain, the process we call learning. Passive methods such as listening do not require us to make these neural connections or conceptualisations. Active methods also:
· Give the learner feedback on their incomplete understandings and encourage them fix this, for example by helping each other.
Information about the language and culture and their interpretation in the course of a foreign language. Activities that can be used in the lesson, activities and role-playing games. The value of the teaching of culture together with the language.
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