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Culture and language

Lengua inglesa y su didctica.

Trabajo de grupo de: David Aguirre, Carolina Fernndez, Ana Mara Narvez y Mnica Zambrano

PART 1: Presentation and Questions 1 and 2. Speaker: David

Hello. As you already know, my name is David and my mates are Mnica, Ana and Carolina. In this presentation, we are going to talk about the importance of teaching culture and language together in the lessons of English as a Foreign Language. If you have any question during the presentation just put up your hands and well speak to you. Here you can see some of the terms that we are going to use during this presentation and that you might not know: Legacy of the history Herencia histrica Awareness - Conciencia Culture - Cultura Language - Idioma Flesh - Carne Blood - Sangre Core Ncleo First of all, Id like to tell you what is culture and how we define it, so: What is culture? There is an agreement which says that language is a fundamental part of culture. Many people think that culture could not be possible without language, and just the opposite. Language reflects culture and is influenced and shaped by it. We are used to hear that language is the mirror of culture. A lot of different metaphors show the relationship between language and culture. Here we have some examples: 1. From a philosophical point of view view, language together with culture form a living organism, where language would be the flesh and culture, the blood. It means that without culture, language would be dead, and without language, culture would have no shape.

2. Another point of view, is the communicative one. It says that the whole of language and culture together are like the action of swimming. Language would be the swimming skill, and culture the water. Without language, communication would remain to a very limited degree, like swimming in very shallow water. For example: everyone could be understood anywhere, but without language, the communication would be very superficial and simple. Without culture, there would be no communication at all. 3. Finally, the pragmatic point of view understands the whole formed by language and culture as a transportation. The language would be a vehicle and the culture a traffic light. Thanks to language, communication is faster and easier, and culture would be the traffic light that regulates our actions with the vehicle: sometimes promotes and sometimes hinders communication. If you know the culture of a country, you will know how to behave and act and you will avoid misunderstandings. In a word, language and culture, as different as they are, form a whole.

The UNESCO defines culture like this: The set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.

As we know now, language is a part of the culture, so we should not teach language without culture at schools. For that reason culture is becoming more and more a central chore of language learning. It is very important to transmit cultural issues when someone is teaching a foreign language, because as we have said before, culture and language are inevitably linked.

PART 2: Question 3. Speaker: Mnica.

Why is culture becoming a central chore of language learning? For us, the most important reasons to use culture as a main point in the curriculum are: 1. We live in a world that gets more and more globalised everyday. All of us listen to the same music, watch the same movies and play the same videogames, so, of

course our children do the same. Besides, Internet is the context where all of them interact: they have a common place to do similar things. 2. We have to be conscious that our own acts, behaves and beliefs are influenced by the culture of the place where we live. 3. Learning culture through language makes children more aware of their own culture and identity. Some other reasons for teaching culture in a language class are: It is good to develop cultural awareness in our pupils. This is awareness that we are affected in our actions by culture, that means that every single person in this world has a specific way of behaving and thinking affected by his culture and the context where we grow up. We have to develop intercultural learning as well. This is the ability to see oneself as part of a larger community to contrast cultures, to be aware that a different language is embodying different cultural beliefs, behaviors and meanings. Which means that each of us belong to a specific community with its own features. Teachers are responsible for helping children to see the different cultural points of view that citizens have, as a rich resource to learn about each other. This would help to develop their empathy and to create a more tolerant world. Up to now, teachers have normally reduced their responsibility to teach the main contents of the curriculum that the education administration established for the state schools, but, nowadays, is not enough to teach those contents. Although some teachers might say that it is difficult to find coursebooks which talk about different cultural issues, the truth is that there are lots of materials useful to supplement these books. And apart from this, it is even possible to find or create new materials by ourselves useful for this proposal.

To sum up, we think that the lessons of English as a foreign language can be a good chance and context to develop this cultural understanding and awareness.

PART 3: Question 4. Speaker: Ana Mara

How can we use culture to teach a foreign language?

Here, well give you some ideas weve got about how to do this. For doing this, we chose the British culture as a model to develop some cultural activities in the classroom. First of all, we should explain that British culture could be defined as the legacy of the history of a developed country, and even as a result of the political union of four different countries, each of them preserving their characteristic features of its costumes and traditions. But, how could we make our children feel interested about all these cultural aspects? Well, if we did funny and entertaining activities in the ELT lessons, these children would be aware of the differences between British culture and their own culture. Apart from this, they would develop their empathy and understand better what living in United Kingdom is like, so they wouldnt feel so insecure when they travel to this country. Having a cultural knowledge about the country where you are travelling, makes it easier for you to understand what is happening and allows you to communicate in a more effective way. So lets see how, in our opinion, we could teach about culture at the same time that we all enjoy and learn more vocabulary and develop our speaking, understanding and writing skills in the target language.

POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES 1. As you might have heard, Great Britain is well known by its great contributions in music and theatre. For example: the London Philarmonic Orchestra is one of the greatest orchestras in the world and the most

representative one from Great Britain. Why dont we start every day our lessons by playing for some minutes some of those great symphonies that they perform?

2. 2. Above many other costumes, British people love the one called: Five Oclock Tea. This consists on

drinking tea and eating pastries at 5 in the afternoon. What about experiencing what it is like doing this for one afternoon with our pupils? Afterwards, we could even discuss if we prefer our beloved merienda or this British costume. May be some of our children will discover that they are meant to have Five Oclock Tea every afternoon :)

3. Football was created in Great Britain when the Football Association established the main rules of this sport in 1863. Spanish children would love to know this information and why not, play a football match after learning the English words used in the sport! It would be so easy for the children to remember better these words by using them in the football field!

4. And talking to children about the favourite toys of British children? And about what is the coolest toy shop in England? It would be the perfect time to practice how to ask the price, to learn vocabulary of toys, the place where something is... We could bring many toys next time and try to practise all this in an experiential way!

5. We dont have to forget that it is very easy travelling abroad today, so we can organize a little trip with our students to, for example, London. Children will realize that all the things they are learning are true and useful, and they will be able to communicate with English

people for real things. This is a great way to motivate students and make them feel happy with their studies.

PART 4. Speaker: Carolina.

Some other ideas to teach about culture through language. Well, we have already seen some activities that we could do in the classroom, but, in fact, there are really many more ways to bring the culture of the foreign language to our classrooms. For example, we could show daily situations or traditional issues related to childhood, like songs, rhymes, games, stories or typical celebrations. One idea is to organize them all together in a visual way, maybe fixing a specific space in our classroom called the English corner. We can also use food, clothes or typical toys in the classroom. We can teach our students how English people eat, what they do in their spare time Other materials we could use are books, comic books, restaurant menus, football magazines, food containers, labels, magazines... In our opinion, we should try to teach English by using real texts as often as possible. For us it is better than using prepared or artificial ones. We can compare the different English-speaker countries and their cultures. Children should know that there is not just one country where people speak English.

Anyway, if you want to think about some original and cultural activities to bring to the English lessons you just need to think about the differences there are in the following components of Spanish and British culture and bring real materials or get information and talk about this with the pupils. Some of the main components of culture that I mean are: Language, food, meeting style, architecture, clothing, behaviour, rhythm, expression of emotions, ethic work, physical contact, literature...

CONCLUSION In conclusion, we think that we would have learnt more English if we had been taught in this way instead of learning grammatical structures and lists of words and irregular

verbs. Of course sometimes we need to teach some grammatical and formal features of the target language, but we think that the best option is to combine the more structural contents with some cultural ones. This would make your lessons more interesting and meaningful for children and they would feel more attracted by English language and its culture. And, by the way, remember not to forget that English language is spoken in many other countries and we have just suggested activities related to British culture but Australian surfing culture, American impressive cities, amazing nature from New Zealand and the diversity of tribes which live in South Africa sound as interesting as British culture.

Do you have any question? Thank you for listening!

UNESCO (2002) Culture competing definitions. ( Seen on the 7th May, 2013. Jiang, W. (2000). The relationship between culture and language. ELT journal, 54(4), 328-334. ( Seen on the 7th May, 2013.

Brewster, J. Ellis, G. & Girard, D. (2002) The Primary English Teacher's Guide. Second Edition. Longman. ( Seen on the 7th May, 2013.