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RadicalPedagogy(2001)

ISSN:15246345

TheImportanceOfTeachingCultureInTheForeignLanguageClassroom
DimitriosThanasoulas
MemberofTESOLGreeceandtheAILAScientificCommissiononLearnerAutonomy
akasa74@hotmail.com
Iwouldliketoexpressmygratitudetomysupervisor,Dr.DoreenDuBoulayfor
herassistanceandinsightfulideas,andrecordmythankstomyfriendsJoshua
JacksonandEleniVassilakis,whowereunstintingintheirsupport,readingdrafts
ofthepaperandmakingthoughtprovokingsuggestions.
Nevertheless,anyshortcomingsorproblemsregardingthepresentthesisremain
myresponsibility.Finally,Iwouldliketothankmyfamily,Theodorosand
EugeniaThanasoulas,fortheiremotionalandfinancialsupport,andmysister
Penny,who,thoughshedoesnotknowit,hashelpedmeinmanyways.Shes
TheOne.

Abstract
Thethesisisconcernedwiththecontributionandincorporationoftheteachingof
cultureintotheforeignlanguageclassroom.Morespecifically,some
considerationwillbegiventothewhyandhowofteachingculture.Itwillbe
demonstratedthatteachingaforeignlanguageisnottantamounttogivinga
homilyonsyntacticstructuresorlearningnewvocabularyandexpressions,but
mainlyincorporates,orshouldincorporate,someculturalelements,whichare
intertwinedwithlanguageitself.Furthermore,anattemptwillbemadeto
incorporatecultureintotheclassroombymeansofconsideringsometechniques
andmethodscurrentlyused.Themainpremiseofthepaperisthateffective
communicationismorethanamatteroflanguageproficiencyandthat,apartfrom
enhancingandenrichingcommunicativecompetence,culturalcompetencecan
alsoleadtoempathyandrespecttowarddifferentculturesaswellaspromote
objectivityandculturalperspicacity.

Introduction
Foreignlanguagelearningiscomprisedofseveralcomponents,includinggrammaticalcompetence,
communicativecompetence,languageproficiency,aswellasachangeinattitudestowardsonesownoranother
culture.Forscholarsandlaymenalike,culturalcompetence,i.e.,theknowledgeoftheconventions,customs,
beliefs,andsystemsofmeaningofanothercountry,isindisputablyanintegralpartofforeignlanguagelearning,
andmanyteachershaveseenitastheirgoaltoincorporatetheteachingofcultureintotheforeignlanguage
curriculum.Itcouldbemaintainedthatthenotionofcommunicativecompetence,which,inthepastdecadeorso,
hasblazedatrail,sotospeak,inforeignlanguageteaching,emphasisingtheroleofcontextandthecircumstances
underwhichlanguagecanbeusedaccuratelyandappropriately,fall[s]shortofthemarkwhenitcomesto
actuallyequippingstudentswiththecognitiveskillstheyneedinasecondcultureenvironment(Straub,1999:2).
Inotherwords,sincethewidercontextoflanguage,thatis,societyandculture,hasbeenreducedtoavariable
elusiveofanydefinitionasmanyteachersandstudentsincessantlytalkaboutitwithoutknowingwhatitsexact
meaningisitstandstoreasonthatthetermcommunicativecompetenceshouldbecomenothingmorethanan
emptyandmeretriciousword,resortedtoiffornootherreasonthantomakeaneducationalpoint.Inreality,
whatmostteachersandstudentsseemtolosesightofisthefactthatknowledgeofthegrammaticalsystemofa

language[grammaticalcompetence]hastobecomplementedbyunderstanding(sic)ofculturespecificmeanings
[communicativeorratherculturalcompetence](Byram,Morganetal.,1994:4).
Ofcourse,wearelongpastanerawhenfirstlanguageacquisitionandsecondorforeignlanguagelearningwere
castinabehaviouristicmould,beingtheproductsofimitationandlanguagedrills,andlanguagewasthought
ofasacompendiumofrulesandstringsofwordsandsentencesusedtoformpropositionsaboutastateofaffairs.
Inthelasttwodecades,therehasbeenaresurgenceofinterestinthestudyoflanguageinrelationtosociety,
whichhasledtoashiftoffocusfrombehaviourismandpositivismtoconstructivismtocriticaltheory(seeBenson
&Voller,1997:1925).Yet,therearestillsomedeeplyingrainedbeliefsastothenatureoflanguagelearningand
teachingbeliefsthatdeterminemethodologyaswellasthecontentoftheforeignlanguagecurriculumwhich
have,graduallyandinsidiously,contrivedtounderminetheteachingofculture.
Oneofthemisconceptionsthathavepermeatedforeignlanguageteachingistheconvictionthatlanguageis
merelyacodeand,oncemasteredmainlybydintofsteepingoneselfintogrammaticalrulesandsomeaspectsof
thesocialcontextinwhichitisembeddedonelanguageisessentially(albeitnoteasily)translatableinto
another(Kramsch,1993:1).Toacertainextent,thisbeliefhasbeeninstrumentalinpromotingvarious
approachestoforeignlanguageteachingpragmatic,sociolinguistic,andcommunicativewhichhavecertainly
endowedthestudyoflanguagewithasocialhue;nevertheless,payinglipservicetothesocialdynamicsthat
undergirdlanguagewithouttryingtoidentifyandgaininsightsintotheveryfabricofsocietyandculturethathave
cometochargelanguageinmanyandvariedwayscanonlycausemisunderstandingandleadtocrosscultural
miscommunication.
Atanyrate,foreignlanguagelearningisforeignculturelearning,and,inoneformoranother,culturehas,even
implicitly,beentaughtintheforeignlanguageclassroomiffordifferentreasons.Whatisdebatable,though,is
whatismeantbythetermcultureandhowthelatterisintegratedintolanguagelearningandteaching.
Kramschskeenobservationshouldnotgounnoticed:
Cultureinlanguagelearningisnotanexpendablefifthskill,tackedon,sotospeak,totheteachingofspeaking,
listening,reading,andwriting.Itisalwaysinthebackground,rightfromdayone,readytounsettlethegood
languagelearnerswhentheyexpectitleast,makingevidentthelimitationsoftheirhardwoncommunicative
competence,challengingtheirabilitytomakesenseoftheworldaroundthem.(Kramsch,1993:1)
Theteachingofcultureisnotakintothetransmissionofinformationregardingthepeopleofthetarget
communityorcountryeventhoughknowledgeabout(letaloneexperienceof)thetargetgroupisanimportant
ingredient(seeNostrand,1967:118).Itwouldbenothingshortofludicroustoassertthatcultureismerelya
repositoryoffactsandexperiencestowhichonecanhaverecourse,ifneedbe.Furthermore,whatKramsch
herselfseemstoinsinuateisthattolearnaforeignlanguageisnotmerelytolearnhowtocommunicatebutalsoto
discoverhowmuchleewaythetargetlanguageallowslearnerstomanipulategrammaticalforms,sounds,and
meanings,andtoreflectupon,orevenflout,sociallyacceptednormsatworkbothintheirownorthetarget
culture.
Thereisdefinitelymorethanmeetstheeye,andthepresentpaperhastheaimofunravellingthemystery,
sheddingsomelightontheroleofteachingcultureinfosteringcrossculturalunderstandingwhichtranscendsthe
boundariesoflinguisticformswhileenrichingandgivingfardeepermeaningtowhatisdubbed
communicativecompetenceandrunscountertoasolipsisticworldview.Iwouldliketoshowthatthe
teachingofculturehasenjoyedfarlessadulationthanitmerits,andconsiderwaysofincorporatingitnotonly
intotheforeignlanguagecurriculumbutalsointolearnersrepertoireandoutlookonlife.Themainpremiseof
thispaperisthatwecannotgoaboutteachingaforeignlanguagewithoutatleastofferingsomeinsightsintoits
speakersculture.Bythesametoken,wecannotgoaboutfosteringcommunicativecompetencewithouttaking
intoaccountthedifferentviewsandperspectivesofpeopleindifferentcultureswhichmayenhanceoreven
inhibitcommunication.Afterall,communicationrequiresunderstanding,andunderstandingrequiressteppinginto
theshoesoftheforeignerandsiftingherculturalbaggage,whilealwaysputting[thetarget]cultureinrelation
withonesown(Kramsch,1993:205).Moreover,weshouldbecognisantofthefactthat[i]fweteachlanguage
withoutteachingatthesametimethecultureinwhichitoperates,weareteachingmeaninglesssymbolsor
symbolstowhichthestudentattachesthewrongmeaning(Politzer,1959:100101).

TheHistoryOFCultureTeaching
Aswillbecomeevident,theroleofculturallearningintheforeignlanguageclassroomhasbeentheconcernof
manyteachersandscholarsandhassparkedconsiderablecontroversy,yetitsvalidityasanequalcomplementto
languagelearninghasoftenbeenoverlookedorevenimpugned.Uptonow,twomainperspectiveshave
influencedtheteachingofculture.Onepertainstothetransmissionoffactual,culturalinformation,whichconsists
instatisticalinformation,thatis,institutionalstructuresandotheraspectsofthetargetcivilisation,highbrow
information,i.e.,immersioninliteratureandthearts,andlowbrowinformation,whichmayfocusonthecustoms,
habits,andfolkloreofeverydaylife(seeKramsch,1993:24).Thispreoccupationwithfactsratherthanmeanings,
though,leavesmuchtobedesiredasfarasanunderstandingofforeignattitudesandvaluesisconcerned,and
virtuallyblindfoldslearnerstotheminutealbeitsignificantaspectsoftheirownaswellasthetargetgroups
identitythatarenoteasilydivinedandappropriated(ibid.)Allthatitoffersismerebookknowledgelearnedby
rote(Huebener,1959:177).Theotherperspective,drawinguponcrossculturalpsychologyoranthropology,has
beentoembedculturewithinaninterpretiveframeworkandestablishconnections,namely,pointsofreferenceor
departure,betweenonesownandthetargetcountry.Thisapproach,however,hascertainlimitations,sinceitcan
onlyfurnishlearnerswithculturalknowledge,whileleavingthemtotheirowndevicestointegratethat
knowledgewiththeassumptions,beliefs,andmindsetsalreadyobtainingintheirsociety.Priortoconsideringa
thirdperspective,towhichthepresentpaperaspirestocontribute,itisofconsequencetobrieflysiftthroughthe
relevantliteratureandseewhattheteachingofculturehascometobeassociatedwith.
AsLessardClouston(1997)notes,inthepast,peoplelearnedaforeignlanguagetostudyitsliterature,andthis
wasthemainmediumofculture.[I]twasthroughreadingthatstudentslearnedofthecivilizationassociatedwith
thetargetlanguage(Flewelling,1993:339,citedinLessardClouston,1997).Inthe1960sand1970s,such
eminentscholarsasHall(1959),Nostrand(1974),Seelye([1974]1984),andBrooks(1975)madeanendeavourto
baseforeignlanguagelearningonauniversalgroundofemotionalandphysicalneeds,sothattheforeignculture
[wouldappear]lessthreateningandmoreaccessibletothelanguagelearner(Kramsch,1993:224).Intheheyday
oftheaudiolingualerainlanguageteaching,Brooks(1968)emphasizedtheimportanceofculturenotforthe
studyofliteraturebutforlanguagelearning,asSteele(1989:155)hasobserved.Earlieron,Brooks(1960)inhis
seminalworkLanguageandLanguageLearninghadofferedsixtyfourtopicsregardingcultureinterspersedwith
questionscoveringseveralpages.Thesehorsdoeuvres,ashecalledthem,concerned,interalia,suchcrucial
aspectsofcultureasgreetings,expletives,personalpossessions,cosmetics,tobaccoandsmoking,verbaltaboos,
cafes,bars,andrestaurants,contrastsintownandcountrylife,patternsofpoliteness,keepingwarmandcool,
medicineanddoctors[]Inasense,hisgroundbreakingworkwasconducivetoashiftoffocusfromteaching
geographyandhistoryaspartoflanguagelearningtoananthropologicalapproachtothestudyofculture.Whatis
importantisthat,bymakingthedistinctionbetweenCulturewithaCapitalCart,music,literature,politics
andsoonandculturewithasmallcthebehaviouralpatternsandlifestylesofeverydaypeoplehehelped
dispelthemyththatculture(orcivilisationorLandeskunde,orwhatothernameitisknownby,(seeByram,
1994))isanintellectualgiftbestowedonlyupontheelite.Admittedly,themainthrustofhisworkwastomake
peopleawarethatcultureresidesintheveryfabricoftheirlivestheirmodusvivendi,theirbeliefs,assumptions,
andattitudesratherthaninapreoccupationwithaestheticreflectionsorhighfalutinideas.AsWeaver
insightfullyremarks,thecommonlyheldnotionofcultureislargelyconcernedwithitsinsignificantaspects,
whereasouractualinteractionwithittakesplaceatasubconsciouslevel.
Many,ifnotmost,peoplethinkofcultureaswhatisoftencalledhighcultureart,literature,music,andthe
like.Thiscultureissetintheframeworkofhistoryandofsocial,political,andeconomicstructures.Actually,
themostimportantpartofcultureforthesojourneristhatwhichisinternalandhidden,butwhichgovernsthe
behaviortheyencounter.Thisdimensionofculturecanbeseenasanicebergwiththetipstickingabovethewater
levelofconsciousawareness.Byfarthemostsignificantpart,however,isunconsciousorbelowthewaterlevelof
awarenessandincludesvaluesandthoughtpatterns.(Weaver,1993:157,citedinKillick&Poveda,1997:221)
FollowingBrooks,Nostrand(1974)developedtheEmergentModelscheme,whichcomprisedsixmain
categories.Thefirst,culture,regardedvaluesystemsandhabitsofthought;societyincludedorganizationsand
familial,religious,andotherinstitutions.Thethirdcategoryofconflictwascomprisedofinterpersonalaswellas
intrapersonalconflict.Ecologyandtechnologyincludedknowledgeofplantsandanimals,healthcare,traveletc.,
whilethefifthcategory,individuals,wasaboutintra/interpersonalvariation.Finally,crossculturalenvironment

hadtodowithattitudestowardsothercultures.AsSinghal(1998)notes,[i]tisevidentthatonewouldhavetobe
quiteknowledgeableinthecultureunderstudytobeabletopresentalloftheseaspectsaccuratelytosecond
languagelearners.Sincethe1960s,agreatmanyeducatorshaveconcernedthemselveswiththeimportanceof
theculturalaspectinforeignlanguagelearning,withHammerly(1982),Seelye(1984)andDamen(1987)being
amongthosewhohaveconsideredwaysofincorporatingcultureintolanguageteaching.Inthe1970s,an
emphasisonsociolinguisticsledtogreateremphasisonthesituationalcontextoftheforeignlanguage.Savignons
(1972:9)studyoncommunicativecompetence,forexample,suggestedthevalueoftrainingincommunicative
skillsfromtheverybeginningoftheFLprogram.Asaresult,theroleofcultureintheforeignlanguage
curriculumwasenhanced,andinfluentialworksbySeelye(1974)andLafayette(1975)appeared.The
audiolingualmethodwasreplacedbythecommunicativeapproach,andCanaleandSwain(1980:31)claimedthat
amorenaturalintegrationoflanguageandculturetakesplacethroughamorecommunicativeapproachthan
throughamoregrammaticallybasedapproach.Inaddition,teacherorientedtexts(Hammerly,1982;Higgs,
1984;Omaggio,1986;Rivers,1981)nowincludeddetailedchaptersoncultureteachingfortheforeignlanguage
classroom,attestingtothepredominantgoal:communicationwithintheculturalcontextofthetargetlanguage.
(seeLessardClouston,1997)
Itisonlyinthe1980sthatscholarsbegintodelveintothedynamicsofcultureanditsvitalcontributionto
successfullanguagelearning(Byram,Morganetal.,1994:5).Forexample,Littlewood(citedinByram,Morgan
etal.,1994:6)advocatesthevalueofculturallearning,althoughhestillkeepslinguisticproficiencyasthe
overallaimofcommunicativecompetence(ibid.).Also,therearemanyinsightfulcomparisonsmadebetween
behaviouralconventionsintheL1andL2societieswhichareculturespecificandwhichcouldbesaidtoimpede
understanding:theuseofsilence(Odlin,1989;LaForge,1983:7081),frequencyofturntaking(Preston,1989:
128131,Odlin,1989:55),politeness(Odlin,1989:4954),andsoforth(seeByram,Morganetal.,1994:8)
Furthermore,inthe1980sand1990s,advancesinpragmaticsandsociolinguistics(Levinson,1983)layingbare
theveryessenceoflanguage,whichisnolongerthoughtofasmerelydescribingorcommunicatingbut,rather,as
persuading,deceiving,orpunishingandcontrolling(Byram,1989;Fairclough,1989;Lakoff,1990),have
renderedpeoplesframesofreferenceandculturalschematatentative,andledtoattemptsatbridg[ing]the
culturalgapinlanguageteaching(Valdes,1986).
Ontheassumptionthatcommunicationisnotonlyanexchangeofinformationbutalsoahighlycognitiveaswell
asaffectiveandvalueladenactivity,Melde(1987)holdsthatforeignlanguageteachingshouldfostercritical
awarenessofsociallifeaviewcommensuratewithFaircloughs(1989and1995)criticaltheory(seealso
Byram,Morganetal.,1994).Morespecifically,whenthelearnerunderstandstheperspectivesofothersandis
offeredtheopportunitytoreflectonhisownperspectives,throughaprocessofdecenteringandalevelof
reciprocity,therearisesamoraldimension,ajudgmentaltendency,whichisnotdefinedpurelyonformal,logical
grounds(Byram,Morganetal.,1994).Tothisend,thelearnerneedstotaketheroleoftheforeigner,sothathe
maygaininsightsintothevaluesandmeaningsthatthelatterhasinternalisedandunconsciouslynegotiateswith
themembersofthesocietytowhichhebelongs(ibid.).BesideMelde,BaumgratzGangl(1990)assertsthatthe
integrationofvaluesandmeaningsoftheforeignculturewiththoseofonesnativeculturecanbringabouta
shiftofperspectiveortherecognitionofcognitivedissonance(Byram,Morganetal.),bothconduciveto
reciprocityandempathy.Whatismore,Swaffar(1992)acknowledgesthecontributionofculturewhenhesays
that,inordertocombat,asitwere,culturaldistance,studentsmustbeexposedtoforeignliteraturewithaview
todevelopingtheabilitytoputintoquestionandevaluatetheculturalelementsL2textsaresuffusedwith.
Kramsch(1993,1987a)alsobelievesthatcultureshouldbetaughtasaninterpersonalprocessand,ratherthan
presentingculturalfacts,teachersshouldassistlanguagelearnersincomingtogripswiththeotherculture
(Singhal,1998).Shemaintainsthat,byvirtueoftheincreasingmulticulturalityofvarioussocieties,learners
shouldbemadeawareofcertainculturalfactorsatwork,suchasage,gender,andsocialclass,providedthatthe
formerusuallyhavelittleornosystematicknowledgeabouttheirmembershipinagivensocietyandculture,nor
dotheyhaveenoughknowledgeaboutthetargetculturetobeabletointerpretandsynthesizethecultural
phenomenapresented.(Kramsch,1988b)
Fromalltheabove,itisevidentthat,muchastheelementofculturehasgainedmomentuminforeignlanguage
learning,mosteducatorshaveseenitasyetanotherskillatthedisposalofthosewhoaspiretobecomeconversant
withthehistoryandlifeofthetargetcommunityratherthanasanintegralpartofcommunicativecompetenceand
interculturalawarenessatwhicheveryeducatedindividualshouldaim.Ashasbeenintimatedabove,thepresent
papertakesathirdperspective,inclaimingthatculturalknowledgeisnotonlyanaspectofcommunicative

competence,butaneducationalobjectiveinitsownright.Nevertheless,culturalknowledgeisunlike,say,
knowledgeofmathematicsorAncientGreek,inthesensethatitisanallencompassingkindofknowledgewhich,
toacertainextent,hasdeterminedfacilitatedorprecludedallothertypesofknowledge.Ratherthanviewing
culturalknowledgeasaprerequisiteforlanguageproficiency,itismoreimportanttoviewitasthecommunitys
storeofestablishedknowledge(Fowler,1986:19),whichcomprisesstructuresofexpectation(Tannen,1979:
144)withwhicheveryonebelongingtoacertaingroupisexpectedtounconsciouslyandunerringlycomply.A
corollaryofthisthirdperspectiveistoviewtheteachingofcultureasameansofdevelopinganawarenessof,
andsensitivitytowards,thevaluesandtraditionsofthepeoplewhoselanguageisbeingstudied(Tucker&
Lambert,1972:26).Itgoeswithoutsayingthattofosterculturalawarenessbydintofteachingculturemeansto
bringtoourlearnersconsciousthelatentassumptionsandpremisesunderlyingtheirbeliefandvaluesystems(see
Humphrey,1997:242)and,mostimportantly,toshowthatourownculturepredisposesustoacertainworldview
bycreatingacognitiveframework.[which]ismadeupofanumberofunquantifiables[myemphasis]
.embrac[ing]assumptionsabouthowtheworldisconstructed(ibid.).Butthiscognitiveframeworkis,toa
greatextent,maintainedandsanctionedthroughtheveryuseoflanguage,whichisarguablythemostvisibleand
availableexpressionof[a]culture(Brown,1986,citedinValdes,1986:33).Aswillbeshown,though,language
andculturearesointricatelyrelatedthattheirboundaries,ifany,areextremelyblurredanditisdifficultto
becomeawareofletalonequestiontheassumptionsandexpectationsthatwehold.Itshouldbereiteratedthat
languageteachingiscultureteaching,andwhatthenextchapterwillsetouttoshowisthat,byteachinga
languageoneisinevitablyalreadyteachingcultureimplicitly(McLeod,1976:212),andgaininginsightsinto
theforeignlanguageshouldautomaticallypresupposeimmersionintheforeignculture,insofarasthesetwo,
languageandculture,gohandinhand.

LanguageAndCulture:WhatISCultureAndWhyShouldITBETaught?
Inthissection,wewillbrieflyexaminetherelationshipbetweenlanguageandcultureandseewhytheteachingof
cultureshouldconstituteanintegralpartoftheEnglishlanguagecurriculum.Tobeginwith,languageisasocial
institution,bothshapingandshapedbysocietyatlarge,orinparticulartheculturalniches(EleanorArmour
Thomas&SharonannGopaulMcNicol,1998)inwhichitplaysanimportantrole.Thus,ifourpremiseisthat
languageis,orshouldbe,understoodasculturalpractice,thenineluctablywemustalsograpplewiththenotionof
cultureinrelationtolanguage.Languageisnotanautonomousconstruct(Fairclough,1989:vi)butsocial
practicebothcreatingandcreatedbythestructuresandforcesof[the]socialinstitutionswithinwhichwelive
andfunction(ibid.).Certainly,languagecannotexistinavacuum;onecouldmakesoboldastomaintainthat
thereisakindoftransfusionatworkbetweenlanguageandculture.Amongstthosewhohavedilateduponthe
affinitybetweenlanguageandculture,itisDurantiwhosuccinctlyencapsulateshowthesetwointerpenetrate:
tobepartofaculturemeanstosharethepropositionalknowledgeandtherulesofinferencenecessaryto
understandwhethercertainpropositionsaretrue(givencertainpremises).Tothepropositionalknowledge,one
mightaddtheproceduralknowledgetocarryouttaskssuchascooking,weaving,farming,fishing,givinga
formalspeech,answeringthephone,askingforafavor,writingaletterforajobapplication(Duranti,1997:28
29).
Clearly,everydaylanguageistingedwithculturalbitsandpiecesafactmostpeopleseemtoignore.Bythe
veryactoftalking,weassumesocialandculturalroles,whicharesodeeplyentrenchedinourthoughtprocesses
astogounnoticed.Interestingly,culturedefinesnotonlywhatitsmembersshouldthinkorlearnbutalsowhat
theyshouldignoreortreatasirrelevant(EleanorArmourThomas&SharonannGopaulMcNicol,1998:56).
Thatlanguagehasasetting,inthatthepeoplewhospeakitbelongtoaraceorracesandareincumbentsof
particularculturalroles,isblatantlyobvious.Languagedoesnotexistapartfromculture,thatis,fromthesocially
inheritedassemblageofpracticesandbeliefsthatdeterminesthetextureofourlives(Sapir,1970:207).Ina
sense,itisakeytotheculturalpastofasociety(Salzmann,1998:41),aguidetosocialreality(Sapir,1929:
209,citedinSalzmann,1998:41).
Nineteenthcenturysociologists,suchasDurkheim,werewellawareof,andexpatiatedupon,theinterdependence
oflanguageandculture.ForDurkheim(1912[1947]),childrenmastertheirmothertonguebydintofmaking
hypothesesastothepossiblecircumstancesunderwhichitcanbeused,andbylearningprobabilities.For
example,achildseesacanaryandisculturallyconditionedtoassociatecertainfeaturesandattributesofthebird

withtheactualwordcanary.Andmostimportantly,theextenttowhichthechildwillinternalisetherelationship
(orlackthereof)betweenthewordcanaryanditsreferentintheworldiscontingentuponsocialadulation
(Landar,1965:225).Ifheistakenforawalkandseesasparrowandsays,canary,hewillbecorrected,learning
thatcompetencecounts(ibid.).Inotherwords,[s]ocioculturallystructuredassociationshavetobeinternalized
(ibid.)and,asoftenasnot,theseassociationsvaryfromculturetoculture.Ratherthangettingboggeddownina
linguisticrelativitydebate,thetenetsofwhicharewidelyknown,someconsiderationshouldbegiventothe
claimthatlanguageisnotmerelytheexternalcoveringofathought;itisalsoitsinternalframework.Itdoesnot
confineitselftoexpressingthisthoughtafterithasoncebeenformed;italsoaidsinmakingit(Durkheim,1912
[1947]).
Fairlyrecently,manyethnographerssuchasButtjes(1990),Ochs&Schieffelin(1984),Poyatos,(1985),and
Peters&Boggs,(1986)haveattemptedtoshowthatlanguageandculturearefromthestartinseparably
connected(Buttjes,1990:55,citedinLessardClouston,1997).Morespecifically,hesummarisesthereasons
whythisshouldbethecase:languageacquisitiondoesnotfollowauniversalsequence,butdiffersacrosscultures;
theprocessofbecomingacompetentmemberofsocietyisrealizedthroughexchangesoflanguageinparticular
socialsituations;
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

everysocietyorchestratesthewaysinwhichchildrenparticipatein
particularsituations,andthis,inturn,affectstheform,thefunctionand
thecontentofchildrensutterances;
caregiversprimaryconcernisnotwithgrammaticalinput,butwiththe
transmissionofsocioculturalknowledge;
thenativelearner,inadditiontolanguage,acquiresalsothe
paralinguisticpatternsandthekinesicsofhisorherculture.

TheimplicationsofButtjesfindingsfortheteachingofcultureareevident.Languageteachingiscultureteaching
andteachersdotheirstudentsagreatdisserviceinplacingemphasisontheformer,tothedetrimentofthelatter.
AsButtjes(1990:5556)notes,languageteachersneedtogobeyondmonitoringlinguisticproductioninthe
classroomandbecomeawareofthecomplexandnumerousprocessesofinterculturalmediationthatanyforeign
languagelearnerundergoes.Toharkbacktotherelationshipbetweenlanguageandculture;Samovar,Porter,
&Jain(1981:24)observe:
Cultureandcommunicationareinseparablebecauseculturenotonlydictateswhotalkstowhom,aboutwhat,and
howthecommunicationproceeds,italsohelpstodeterminehowpeopleencodemessages,themeaningsthey
haveformessages,andtheconditionsandcircumstancesunderwhichvariousmessagesmayormaynotbesent,
noticed,orinterpreted...Culture...isthefoundationofcommunication.
Moreover,givenDurantis(1997:24)definitionofcultureassomethinglearned,transmitted,passeddownfrom
onegenerationtothenext,throughhumanactions,oftenintheformoffacetofaceinteraction,and,ofcourse,
throughlinguisticcommunication,itispatentlyobviousthatlanguage,albeitasubpartofculture,playsapivotal
role.Bourdieuhasemphasisedtheimportanceoflanguagenotasanautonomousconstructbutasasystem
determinedbyvarioussociopoliticalprocesses.Forhim,alanguageexistsasalinguistichabitus(seeBourdieu,
1990:52),asasetofpracticesthatimplynotonlyaparticularsystemofwordsandgrammaticalrules,butalsoan
oftenforgottenorhiddenstruggleoverthesymbolicpowerofaparticularwayofcommunicating,withparticular
systemsofclassification,addressandreferenceforms,specializedlexicons,andmetaphors(forpolitics,medicine,
ethics)(Bourdieu,1982:31,citedinDuranti,1997:45).
Atanyrate,tospeakmeanstochooseaparticularwayofenteringtheworldandaparticularwayofsustaining
relationshipswiththosewecomeincontactwith.Itisoftenthroughlanguageusethatwe,toalargeextent,are
membersofacommunityofideasandpractices(ibid.).Thus,asacomplexsystemofclassificationofexperience
andanimportantwindowontheuniverseofthoughts(Duranti,1997:49);asalinkbetweenthoughtand
behaviour;andastheprototypicaltoolforinteractingwiththeworld(ibid.),languageisintertwinedwith
culture.Inthepast,languageandculturewerelumpedtogetherasiftheyautomaticallyimpliedeachother.
WilhelmvonHumboldt,aneminentdiplomatandscholar,oncewrote:

Thespiritualtraitsandthestructureofthelanguageofapeoplearesointimatelyblendedthat,giveneitherofthe
two,oneshouldbeabletoderivetheotherfromittothefullestextentLanguageistheoutwardmanifestationof
thespiritofpeople:theirlanguageistheirspirit,andtheirspiritistheirlanguage;itisdifficulttoimagineanytwo
thingsmoreidentical(Humboldt,1907,citedinSalzmann,1998:39).
Ontheotherhand,Sapir(1921:215)assertsthat[l]anguage,race,andculturearenotnecessarilycorrelated,
onlytoadmitlateronthat[l]anguageandourthoughtgroovesareinextricablyinterrelated,are,inasense,one
andthesame(ibid.:217218),thusoscillatingbetweenaviewoflanguageandcultureasbeingautonomousand
separatefromeachotherandoneoflinguisticdeterminism,wherebylanguageaffectsandshapeshumanthought.
Accordingtohislights,[c]ulturemaybedefinedaswhatasocietydoesandthinks.Languageisaparticularhow
ofthought(ibid.:218).Inaddition,Hall(1981:36)alignshimselfwithHumboldtandBourdieuindubbing
languageoneofthedominantthreadsinallcultures.Inasimilarvein,Bruner(1996:3)saysthat[a]lthough
meaningsareinthemind,theyhavetheiroriginsandtheirsignificanceinthecultureinwhichtheyarecreated.
Andheadds,humanbeingsdonotterminateattheirownskins;theyareexpressionsofaculture(Bruner,1990:
12).Furthermore,wecouldenvisionthepossibilityofcertainlinguisticfeaturesmak[ing]certainmodesof
perceptionmoreprevalentormoreprobable(Henle,1970:18).Lexicalandgrammaticalcategoriesofalanguage
havebeenassumedtodeterminehowitsspeakersconceptualisetheworldaroundthem.Considerthecaseof
metaphors,whichhavebeenanalyzedasprovidingconceptualschematathroughwhichweunderstandtheworld
(Duranti,1997:64).Forexample,themetaphorUNDERSTANDINGISSEEINGwillgeneratesuchexpressions
asIseewhatyoumean.Togetthewholepicture,Illtellyou,whilethemetaphorIDEASAREFOOD
establishessimilaritiesacrosstwodifferentdomains(thinkingandeating)andgeneratestheexpressionItgives
mefoodforthought.Whatismore,cultureseemstohaveagrammarofitsown,whichsuperimposesitselfupon,
andisreflectedin,thatoflanguage.[A]grammarofcultureconsistsofrulesforthegenerationofpatternsof
behaviour(Howell&Vetter,1976:376).Toachieveadeeperunderstandingofwhatthegrammarofculture
reallyconsistsin,weshouldadducethefollowingexample(seeHowell&Vetter,1976:374).WhenanAmerican
seesabuscoming,healmostalwaysusesthepresentprogressive(thebusiscoming),injuxtapositionwitha
Japanese,whousesthepresentperfect(thebushascome).Inthiscase,thedifferencebetweenthetwocultures
liesintheconceptualorganizationofexperience(Henle,1970:3)whichtheychoose,orratherareconditioned,
toadhereto.Ashasbeenintimatedabove,toalargeextent,[we]canbeconditionedtoseeandhearthingsin
muchthesamewayas[we]canbeconditionedtoperformovertactsaskneejerking,eyeblinking,orsalivating
(Bruner&Goodman,1947:34,citedinHowell&Vetter,1976).Itisevidentthatcultureisamuddiedconcept
(Hall,1981:20),elusiveofanydefinitivedefinition,yetitisinextricablyandimplicitlyrelatedtolanguage.As
Durantiinsightfullyremarks,
[w]ordscarryinthemamyriadpossibilitiesforconnectingustootherhumanbeings,othersituations,events,acts,
beliefs,feelingsTheindexicalityoflanguageisthuspartoftheconstitutionofanyactofspeakingasanactof
participationinacommunityoflanguageusers(Duranti,1997:46).
Butwhatexactlyisculture?AsNemni(1992)andStreet(1993)suggest,thisisnotaneasyquestiontoanswer,
particularlyinanincreasinglyinternationalworld.Onagenerallevel,culturehasbeenreferredtoasthewaysof
apeople(Lado,1957).Thisviewincorporatesbothmaterialmanifestationsofculturethatareeasilyseenand
nonmaterialonesthataremoredifficulttoobserve,asSavilleTroike(1975:83)notes.Anthropologistsdefine
cultureasthewholewayoflifeofapeopleorgroup.Inthiscontext,culture(sic)includesallthesocialpractices
thatbondagroupofpeopletogetheranddistinguishthemfromothers(MontgomeryandReidThomas,1994:5).
AccordingtoPeck(1998),Cultureisalltheacceptedandpatternedwaysofbehaviorofagivenpeople.Itisthat
facetofhumanlifelearnedbypeopleasaresultofbelongingtosomeparticulargroup;itisthatpartoflearned
behaviorsharedwithothers.Notonlydoesthisconceptincludeagroupswayofthinking,feeling,andacting,but
alsotheinternalizedpatternsfordoingcertainthingsincertainways.notjustthedoingofthem.Thisconceptof
culturealsoincludesthephysicalmanifestationsofagroupasexhibitedintheirachievementsandcontributionsto
civilization.Cultureisoursociallegacyascontrastedwithourorganicheredity.Itregulatesourlivesatevery
turn.
Itcouldbearguedthatcultureneverremainsstatic,butisconstantlychanging.Inthislight,Robinson(1988)
dismissesbehaviourist,functionalist,andcognitivedefinitionsofcultureandpositsasymboliconewhichsees
cultureasadynamicsystemofsymbolsandmeaningswherebypastexperienceinfluencesmeaning,whichin
turnaffectsfutureexperience,whichinturnaffectssubsequentmeaning,andsoon(ibid.:11).Itisthisdynamic

natureofculturethathasbeenlostsightofandunderratedinforeignlanguageteachingandoughttobecastina
newperspective.Learningaforeignlanguagecanbesubversiveoftheassumptionsandpremisesoperatinginthe
homeculture(Straub,1999),whichrequiresthatlearnersbeofferedtheopportunityforpersonalgrowth,in
termsofpersonalmeanings,pleasures,andpower(Kramsch,1993:238).AsKramsch(ibid.:238)notes,[f]rom
theclashbetweenthenativecultureandthetargetculture,meaningsthatweretakenforgrantedaresuddenly
questioned,challenged,problematized.However,inordertoquestionandreinterpret(ReynoldsandSkilbeck,
1976:6)L2culture,L1observersmustfirstbecomeawareofwhatitmeanstoparticipateintheirownculture
andwhatthecontentsofcultureare.
ApartfromBrooks,whoseworkwementionedearlieron,severalotherscholarssuchasLado(1964),
Goodenough(1981),Kallenbach&Hodges(1963),Straub(1999),andothershaveprovidedaframeworkwithin
whichtoidentifythenatureofculture,beithomecultureortargetculture.Forinstance,Goodenough(1981:62)
summarisesthecontentsofculturebrieflyquotedbelow:

Thewaysinwhichpeoplehaveorganizedtheirexperienceoftherealworldsoastogiveitstructure
asaphenomenalworldofforms,theirperceptsandconcepts.
Thewaysinwhichpeoplehaveorganizedtheirexperienceoftheirphenomenalworldsoastogive
itstructureasasystemofcauseandeffectrelationships,thatis,thepropositionsandbeliefsby
whichtheyexplaineventsandaccomplishtheirpurposes.
Thewaysinwhichpeoplehaveorganizedtheirexperiencessoastostructuretheirworldin
hierarchiesofpreferences,namely,theirvalueorsentimentsystems.
Thewaysinwhichpeoplehaveorganizedtheirexperienceoftheirpasteffortstoaccomplish
recurringpurposesintooperationalproceduresforaccomplishingthesepurposesinthefuture,that
is,asetofgrammaticalprinciplesofactionandaseriesofrecipesforaccomplishingparticular
ends.

ForGoodenough(1963:258259),[c]ultureconsistsofstandardsfordecidingwhatis,standardsfordeciding
whatcanbe,standardsfordecidinghowonefeelsaboutit,standardsfordecidingwhattodoaboutit,and
standardsfordecidinghowtogoaboutdoingit.Clearly,cultureisaubiquitousforce,forgingouridentitiesand
ourrelationshipswithotherthingsandindividuals.Wereitnotforculture,wewouldbelittlemorethan
gibbering,incomprehensibleidiot[s],lesscapableofmeresurvivalthanamemberoftheveryearliesttribeof
prehistoricmen(Kallenbach&Hodges,1963:11).Toviewcultureasthetotallifewayofapeople[and]the
sociallegacytheindividualacquiresfromhisgroup(ibid.)leadstothebeliefthattobehumanineluctablymeans
tobecultured.Whatismore,accordingtoKallenbach&Hodges(1963:20),culturechannelsbiologicalprocesses
vomiting,weeping,fainting,sneezing.[while]sensationsofpleasure,anger,andlustmaybestimulatedby
culturalcuesthatwouldleaveunmovedsomeonewhohasbeenrearedinadifferentsocialtradition.
Culturecreatesandsolvesproblems.If,withinaspecificculture,cowsarelookeduponassacredanimals,or
breakingamirrorisassumedtobringbadluck,threatsareposedwhichdonotariseoutoftheinexorablefactsof
theexternalworld(ibid.:24).Furthermore,suchnotionsassuccess,greed,decorum,orpromiscuitycan
onlybeassessedagainstaculturespecificyardstick,asitwere.[S]uchvaluejudgmentsareacquiredinthe
cultureinwhichtheindividualhasgrownupandareacceptedunquestioninglybymostmembersofthesocial
group(Osgood,Suci,andTannenbaum,1957,citedinRivers,1968:266).Itgoeswithoutsayingthatthe
importanceofanysingleelementinaculturedesignwillbeseenonlywhenthatelementisviewedinthetotal
matrixofitsrelationshiptootherelements(ibid.:29).LetusillustratethisbydrawinguponDeSaussures
semiotictheory(Barthes,1973,citedinLeissetal.,1990:200201):Rosessignifypassionorlove.Ifweanalyse
theirmeaning,wehavethreeelements:thesignifiertheroses;thesignifiedpassionorlove;andthesign
thepassionifiedrosesasawhole.Obviously,thereisnothinginherentlypassionateoramorousaboutroses;
theyareviewedassuchwithinthecontextofwesternculture.Inanotherculture,rosescouldsignifysomething
different,eventheoppositeofpassionorlove.Ofcourse,ifweaskedanIndianwhysheworshipscowsora
Frenchmanwhyhesaysunpieddelaitue(literallyafootoflettuce)whereasEnglishspeakerssayaheadof
lettuceandGreekspeakers(literallyaheartoflettuce),chancesarethatwewouldget
nomoresatisfactoryananswerthanweourselveswouldbereadytogiveregardingourownlanguageorculture
(seeDesberg,1961,citedinFotitch,1961:55).Interestingly,accordingtoLado(1964:28),culturecomprises
variouselementarymeaningunits(EMUs),suchastheonestoucheduponabove,whichmaybeatvariancewith

otherEMUsatworkinanotherculture.Forhim,comingtogripswiththeseEMUsisnecessaryforfull
communicationwithnatives,tounderstandtheirreportsongreatachievements,andtoreadtheirclassics.Itisour
contentionthattheseEMUscanpavethewayforathirdplace(Kramsch,1993),athirdidentity,whichcandraw
upontheL1andL2culturesinenunciatingpersonalmeanings(thisissuewillbeconsideredlaterinthestudy).
That[c]ultureisnotarelativelyharmoniousandstablepoolofsignifications,butaconfrontationbetweengroups
occupyingdifferent,sometimesopposingpositionsinthemapofsocialrelations(Fiske,1989b:58,citedin
Kramsch,1993:24)isfurtherillustratedbelow(seeHenrichsen,1998):AnewteacherfromtheU.S.wasteaching
EnglishinaPalestinianschoolinIsrael,workingwithafairlyadvancedgroupofstudentsandtryingtohelpthem
understandandusethepresentperfecttense.Tothisend,shebeganwiththequestion,Haveyoueverlivedin
Israel?Someofthestudentsanswered,No,whiletherestoftheclassseemedabitconfused,shakingtheir
headsinlackofcomprehension.Theteacherrepeatedthequestion,onlytoreceivethesameresponse.Then,a
studentsaid,Palestine,teacher,Palestine,thussheddinglightonthemisunderstanding.Eventhoughthe
studentsunderstoodthequestion,theyrefusedtogiveIsraelrecognitionasanation,evenbyname.Thestudents
knewthegrammarprincipleverywell;theywouldsimplynotacknowledgethepoliticalcircumstancesit
assumed(ibid.).
Inviewofthis,itisreasonabletoassertthatculturalawarenessshouldbeviewedasanimportantcomponent
informing,sotospeak,andenrichingcommunicativecompetence.Bycommunicativecompetence,wemean
verbalaswellasnonverbalcommunication,suchasgestures,theability(orlackthereof)tointegratewitha
specificgrouporavoidcommittinganyfauxpas,andsoforth.Inotherwords,thekindofcommunicative
competencepositedhereisonewhichcanaccountfortheappropriatenessoflanguageaswellasbehaviour.On
theonehand,itcanhelpusunderstandwhythesentenceAcigaretteiswhatIwantisunlikelytobeelevatedto
thestatusofapossibleutteranceinEnglish;ontheother,itcansuggestwhybeingcarelessaboutchinkingglasses
inCretemaycausetrouble.ItiswhatDesberg(1961,citedinFotitch,1961:56)dubslinguisticocultural
meaningthathasbeenextirpatedfromtheforeignlanguagemilieu,andledtothefalseassumptionthatcultureis
acompartmentalisedsubjectamenabletoeducationalinterventions,toquoteCandy(1991),ratherthanan
educationalgoalinitself.
Thequestionarises,however,thatiflanguageandculturearesointricatelyintertwined,whyshouldweovertly
focusonculturewhenthereareotheraspectsofthecurriculumthatneedmoreattention?Tobeginwith,we
shouldconcernourselveswithculturebecause,eventhoughitisinherentinwhatweteach,tobelievethat
whoeverislearningtheforeignlanguageisalsolearningtheculturalknowledgeandskillsrequiredtobea
competentL2/FLspeakerdeniesthecomplexityofculture,languagelearning,andcommunication(Lessard
Clouston,1997).Second,itisdeemedimportanttoincludecultureintheforeignlanguagecurriculumbecauseit
helpsavoidthestereotypesthatNemni(1992)hasdiscussedandthepresentstudyhasintimated.Thethirdreason
forexpresslyteachingcultureintheforeignlanguageclassroomistoenablestudentstotakecontroloftheirown
learningaswellastoachieveautonomybyevaluatingandquestioningthewidercontextwithinwhichthe
learningofthetargetlanguageisembedded.Tomalin&Stempleski(1993:78),modifyingSeelyes(1988)
sevengoalsofculturalinstruction,mayprovideananswerpertinenttothequestionposed.Accordingtothem,
theteachingofculturehasthefollowinggoalsandisofandinitselfameansofaccomplishingthem:

Tohelpstudentstodevelopanunderstandingofthefactthatallpeopleexhibitculturally
conditionedbehaviours.
Tohelpstudentstodevelopanunderstandingthatsocialvariablessuchasage,sex,socialclass,and
placeofresidenceinfluencethewaysinwhichpeoplespeakandbehave.
Tohelpstudentstobecomemoreawareofconventionalbehaviourincommonsituationsinthe
targetculture.
Tohelpstudentstoincreasetheirawarenessoftheculturalconnotationsofwordsandphrasesinthe
targetlanguage.
Tohelpstudentstodeveloptheabilitytoevaluateandrefinegeneralizationsaboutthetarget
culture,intermsofsupportingevidence.
Tohelpstudentstodevelopthenecessaryskillstolocateandorganizeinformationaboutthetarget
culture.

Tostimulatestudentsintellectualcuriosityaboutthetargetculture,andtoencourageempathy
towardsitspeople.

ThislistofgoalsisdefinitelyanimprovementonHuebeners(1959:182183)listofdesirableoutcomes.Atany
rate,theaimofteachingcultureistoincreasestudentsawarenessandtodeveloptheircuriositytowardsthe
targetcultureandtheirown,helpingthemtomakecomparisonsamongcultures(Tavares&Cavalcanti,1996:
19).Thesecomparisons,ofcourse,arenotmeanttounderestimateforeignculturesbuttoenrichstudents
experienceandtosensitisethemtoculturaldiversity.Thisdiversityshouldthenbeunderstoodandrespected,and
neverover(sic)orunderestimated(ibid.:20).Inthenextchapter,wewillconsiderdifferentwaysofteaching
(about)culture.AsKramsch(1993:245)succinctlyputsit,teachersandlearnerstaskistounderstandinever
moresensitivewayswhytheytalkthewaytheydo,andwhytheyremainsilent:thistypeofknowledgeClifford
Geertz[1983]callslocalknowledge.

INCORPORATINGCULTUREINTOTHEFOREIGNLANGUAGECLASSROOM:
SOMEPRACTICALCONSIDERATIONS
Aquestiongermanetoourdiscussionis,howcanweincorporatecultureintotheforeignlanguagecurriculum,
withaviewtofosteringculturalawarenessandcommunicatinginsightintothetargetcivilisation?Inthepast,this
hasbeenattemptedbydintofdiscoursinguponthegeographicalenvironmentandhistoricalorpolitical
developmentoftheforeignculture,itsinstitutionsandcustoms,itsliteraryachievements,eventheminutedetails
oftheeverydaylifeofitsmembers.Atothertimes,insightsintothetargetcommunityhavetakentheformof
lecturettes(seeRivers,1968:272)orahomilyonsuchissuesasmarriagecustomsandceremonies,festivals,
Sundayexcursions,andsoforth,thusrenderingthestudyoftheforeigncultureatediousandunrewardingtask.
Admittedly,wecannotteachcultureanymorethanwecanteachanyonehowtobreathe.Whatwecando,though,
istrytoshowtheway,toteachaboutcultureratherthantopositaspecificwayofseeingthingswhichis
corollaryandancillarytoculturalandlinguisticimperialism.Bybringingtotheforesomeelementsofthetarget
culture,andfocusingonthosecharacteristicsandtraitsthatareofimportancetothemembersofthetarget
communityrefrainingfromtakinganoutsidersviewteacherscanmakestudentsawarethattherearenosuch
thingsassuperiorandinferiorculturesandthattherearedifferencesamongpeoplewithinthetargetculture,as
well.[Teachersare]notintheclassroomtoconfirmtheprejudicesof[their]studentsnortoattacktheirdeeply
heldconvictions(ibid.:271).Theirtaskistostimulatestudentsinterestinthetargetculture,andtohelpestablish
theforeignlanguageclassroomnotsomuchasaplacewherethelanguageistaught,butasonewhere
opportunitiesforlearningofvariouskindsareprovidedthroughtheinteractionsthattakeplacebetweenthe
participants(Ellis,1992:171,citedinKramsch,1993:245).
AccordingtoStraub(1999),whateducatorsshouldalwayshaveinmindwhenteachingcultureistheneedtoraise
theirstudentsawarenessoftheirownculture,toprovidethemwithsomekindofmetalanguageinordertotalk
aboutculture,andtocultivateadegreeofintellectualobjectivityessentialincrossculturalanalyses(ibid.:5).
Whatismore,anotherobjectivepermeatingtheteachingofcultureistofosterunderstandingofthetarget
culturefromaninsidersperspectiveanempatheticviewthatpermitsthestudenttoaccuratelyinterpretforeign
culturalbehaviors(ibid.).Priortoconsideringsomeconcretetechniquesforteachingcultureintheforeign
languageclassroom,itisusefultoattemptananswertothequestionposedatthebeginningofthischapterby
providingsomeguidelinesforcultureteaching(mostofthediscussionthatensuesismainlybasedonLessard
Clouston,1997).
First,cultureteachingmustbecommensuratewiththedynamicaspectsofculture.AsLessardClouston(1997)
notes,
[s]tudentswillindeedneedtodevelopknowledgeofandabouttheL2orFLculture,butthisreceptiveaspectof
culturalcompetenceisnotsufficient.Learnerswillalsoneedtomastersomeskillsinculturallyappropriate
communicationandbehaviourforthetargetculture[C]ulturalawarenessisnecessaryifstudentsaretodevelop
anunderstandingofthedynamicnatureofthetargetculture,aswellastheirownculture.
Second,itisimportanttoeschewwhatLessardClouston(1997)callsalaissezfaireapproach,whenitcomesto
teachingmethodology,anddealwithcultureteachinginasystematicandstructuredway.Third,evaluationof

culturelearningisanecessarycomponentoftheforeignculturecurriculum,providingstudentswithfeedback
andkeepingteachersaccountableintheirteaching.AfourthpointismadebyCruz,Bonissone,andBaff(1995)
pertainingtotheexpressneedforlinguisticandculturalcompetenceasameansofachievingandnegotiating
nationspoliticalandeconomicalidentitiesinanevershrinkingworld,astheyputit.
Ourworldhaschanged,butinmanywaysourschoolshavenot.Linguisticandculturalabilitiesareatthe
forefrontofourevershrinkingworld.Yetwecontinuetoshyawayfromaddressingtheseveryrealglobal
necessities.Justasnoonesuperpowercandominatewithoutcensurefromothers,citizensmustnowbegintosee
theirglobalresponsibilitiesandmustlearntomovecomfortablyfromoneculturalenvironmenttothenext.
Persuasionratherthanarmedcoercionhasbecomethewaytodothingspoliticallyandeffectivepersuasion
requiresthatoneknowtheotherpartysvaluesandmannerofestablishingrapport.(ibid.)Apparently,culturecan
becomeathird(orsecond,forthatmatter)superpowerdispensingjusticeandhelpingmaintainstabilityand
equilibriumifneedbe.
Acursoryglanceatmosttextbooksnowadaysisampletoshowwhateducatorsmustfirstcombatanderadicate:
stereotypes.AsByram,Morganetal.(1994:41)observe,[textbookwriters]intuitivelyavoidbringinglearners
existingheterostereotypesintotheopenandhopethat[their]negativeovertoneswillbecounteractedby
presentingpositiveimagesoftheforeigncountry.Asamatteroffact,stereotypesareextremelytenacious,inso
faraspeoplefromdifferentcultureshavetheirownschematathroughwhichtheyconceptualiseandunderstand
theworld,andtostepintoanothercultureistodenysomethingwithintheirownbeing(ibid.:43).Inorderto
provideadifferentperspectiveontheforeignculture,teachersshouldusecomparison,withaviewto
identifyingcommongroundorevenlacunaewithinorbetweencultures(seeErteltVieth,1990,1991,citedin
Byram,Morganetal.,1994:43).Mostcertainly,learnerswillnotrelinquishtheirculturalbaggage(ibid.)and
begintoseetheworldintheFrench,English,orJapaneseway,sotospeak.Nevertheless,theycanacknowledge
thatanyintellectualantinomiesemanatingfromtheirexposuretothetargetculturearenaturalandbynomeans
pernicious.
Beforeventuringintounknownterritories(Grove,1982),learnersmustfirstbecomeconversantwithwhatit
meanstobepartofaculture,theirownculture.Byexploringtheirownculture,i.e.,bydiscussingtheveryvalues,
expectations,traditions,customs,andritualstheyunconsciouslytakepartin,theyarereadytoreflectuponthe
values,expectations,andtraditionsofotherswithahigherdegreeofintellectualobjectivity(Straub,1999).
Dependingontheageandlevelofthelearners,thistaskcantakemanyforms.Forexample,youngbeginnersor
intermediatestudentsshouldbegiventheopportunitytoenjoycertainactivitiesthatarepartoftheirowntradition,
suchasnationalsports,socialfestivities,orsongs,beforesettingaboutexploringthoseofthetargetculture.Here,
wewillonlybeconcernedwiththelatter.Beginningforeignlanguagestudentswanttofeel,touch,smell,andsee
theforeignpeoplesandnotjustheartheirlanguage(Peck,1998).Atanyrate,theforeignlanguageclassroom
shouldbecomeaculturalisland(Kramsch,1993;Singhal,1998;Peck,1998),wheretheaccentwillbeon
culturalexperienceratherthanculturalawareness(seeByram,Morganetal.,1994:5560).Fromthefirstday,
teachersareexpectedtobringintheclassposters,pictures,maps,andotherrealiainordertohelpstudents
developamentalimageofthetargetculture(Peck,1998).AccordingtoPeck(1998),aneffectiveand
stimulatingactivityistosendstudentsonculturalerrands(myterm)tosupermarketsanddepartmentstores
andhavethemwritedownthenamesofimportedgoods.Moreover,teacherscanalsoinviteguestspeakers,who
willtalkabouttheirexperiencesoftheforeigncountry.
Anotherinsightfulactivityistodividetheclassintogroupsofthreeorfourandhavethemdrawupalistofthose
characteristicsandtraitsthatsupposedlydistinguishthehomeandtargetcultures.Tomalin&Stempleski(1993:
16)provideasampleofthekindofliststudentscouldproduce:
music
race
geography
architecture
crafts
clothing

national origin
customs
physical features

arts and
food

Inthisway,itbecomeseasierforteachersandstudentstoidentifyanystereotypicallapsesandpreconceived
ideasthattheyneedtodisabusethemselvesof.Tothisend,oncemajordifferenceshavebeenestablished,students
canbeintroducedtosomekeywords(Williams,1983),suchasmarriage,death,homosexuality,etc.,and
thusbeassistedintakinganinsidersviewoftheconnotationsofthesewordsandconcepts.Inotherwords,they
canquerytheirownassumptionsandtrytoseetheunderlyingsignificanceofaparticulartermorwordinthe
targetlanguageandculture.Forexample,inEnglishculture,bothanimalsandhumanshavefeelings,getsick,and
areburiedincemeteries.InHispanicculture,however,thedistinctionbetweenhumansandanimalsisgreat,and
bullfightingishighlyunlikelytobeseenasawasteoftime,asmanywesternspectatorsareapttosay.For
Spanishpeople,abullisnotequaltothemanwhokillsitabeliefthathastheeffectofexonerating,sotospeak,
thebullfighterfromallresponsibility;abullcanbestrongbutnotintelligentorskilful;thesearequalities
attributedtohumanbeings.Inthislight,notionssuchascruel,slaughter,orbeingdefencelesscarryvastly
differentundertonesinthetwocultures(seeLado,1986).Besides,thewaylanguageandsocialvariables
interpenetrateshouldinformcultureteachingintheforeignlanguageclassroom.Themainpremiseisthat
languagevariesaccordingtosocialvariables,suchassex,age,socialclass,location[],andtheconcomitant
registerdifferencesshouldnotgounnoticed.Forexample,studentscanbetaughtthattherearecertainwordsused
morebywomenthanbymen,andviceversa,andthattherearealsodifferentdialectswhichmaynotenjoyequal
adulationandprestige(forexample,CockneyasopposedtoReceivedPronunciationinEngland)(seeHenrichsen,
1998).
Throughexposuretotheforeigncivilisation,studentsinescapablydrawsomecomparisonsbetweenthehomeand
targetculture.Culturalcapsules(Singhal,1998,andothers),alsoknownasculturgrams(Peck,1998),attempt
tohelpinthisrespect,presentinglearnerswithisolateditemsaboutthetargetculture,whileusingbooksandother
visualaids.Yet,accordingtoPeck(ibid.),amoreusefulwaytoprovideculturalinformationisbydintofcultural
clusters,whichareaseriesofculturecapsules.Seelye(1984)providessuchcapsules,suchasanarrativeonthe
etiquetteduringafamilymeal.Withthisnarrativeasaspringboardfordiscussionandexperimentation,students
canpracticehowtoeat,learnhow,andtowhatextent,themembersofthetargetcultureappreciateamealwith
friends,andsoforth.Awordofcaveatiscalledfor,though.Studentsmustnotlosesightofthefactthatnotall
membersofthetargetcommunitythinkandbehaveinthesameway.
Henrichsen(1998)proposes,amongothers,twointerestingmethods:cultureassimilatorsandcultoons.Culture
assimilatorscompriseshortdescriptionsofvarioussituationswhereonepersonfromthetargetcultureinteracts
withpersonsfromthehomeculture.Thenfollowfourpossibleinterpretationsofthemeaningofthebehaviourand
speechoftheinteractants,especiallythosefromthetargetculture.Oncethestudentshavereadthedescription,
theychooseoneofthefouroptionstheythinkisthecorrectinterpretationofthesituation.Wheneverysingle
studenthasmadehischoice,theydiscusswhysomeoptionsarecorrectorincorrect.Themainthrustofculture
assimilatorsisthattheyaregoodmethodsofgivingstudentsunderstandingaboutculturalinformationandmay
evenpromoteemotionalempathyoraffectifstudentshavestrongfeelingsaboutoneormoreoftheoptions
(ibid.).Ontheotherhand,cultoonsarevisualcultureassimilators.Studentsareprovidedwithaseriesoffour
pictureshighlightingpointsofmisunderstandingorcultureshockexperiencedbypersonsincontactwiththe
targetculture.Here,studentsareaskedtoevaluatethecharactersreactionsintermsofappropriateness(withinthe
targetculture).Oncemisunderstandingsaredissipated,learnersreadshorttextsexplainingwhatwashappeningin
thecultoonsandwhytherewasmisunderstanding.Nevertheless,muchascultoonsgenerallypromote
understandingofculturalfacts.theydonotusuallygiverealunderstandingofemotionsinvolvedincultural
misunderstandings(ibid.).
Culturalproblemsolvingisyetanotherwaytoprovideculturalinformation(seeSinghal,1998).Inthiscase,
learnersarepresentedwithsomeinformationbuttheyareonthehornsofadilemma,sotospeak.Forexample,in
analysing,say,aTVconversationorreadinganarrativeonmarriageceremonies,theyareexpectedtoassess
mannersandcustoms,orappropriateorinappropriatebehaviour,andtoemployvariousproblemsolving
techniquesinshort,todevelopakindofculturalstrategiccompetence(myterm).Singhal(1998)setsthe
scene:studentsareinarestaurantandareexpectedtoorderameal.Inthisway,learnersaregiventheopportunity
tostepintotheshoesofamemberofthetargetculture.
Indisputably,conventionalbehaviourincommonsituationsisasubjectwithwhichstudentsshouldacquaint
themselves.Forinstance,intheUSAortheUnitedKingdom,itisuncommonforastudentwhoislateforclassto
knockonthedoorandapologizetotheteacher.Rather,thisbehaviourismostlikelytobefrowneduponandhave

theoppositeeffect,eventhoughitiscommonbehaviourintheculturemanystudentscomefrom.Besides,there
aresignificantdifferencesacrossculturesregardingthewaysinwhichtheteacherisaddressed;whenastudentis
supposedtoraiseherhand;whattopicsareconsideredtaboooroffthemark;howmuchleewaystudentsare
allowedinachievinglearnerautonomy,andsoforth(forfurtherdetails,seeHenrichsen,1998).
Alongsidelinguisticknowledge,studentsshouldalsofamiliarisethemselveswithvariousformsofnonverbal
communication,suchasgestureandfacialexpressions,typicalinthetargetculture.Morespecifically,learners
shouldbecognisantofthefactthatsuchseeminglyuniversalsignalsasgesturesandfacialexpressionsaswell
asemotionsareactuallyculturalphenomena,andmayasoftenasnotleadtomiscommunicationanderroneous
assumptions(seeWierzbicka,1999).Green(1968)furnishessomeexamplesofappropriategesturesinSpanish
culture.AninterestingactivityfocusingonnonverbalcommunicationisfoundinTomalin&Stempleski(1993:
117119):Theteacherhandsouttwelvepicturesshowinggesturesandtheninvitesthestudentstodiscussand
answersomequestions.Whichgesturesaredifferentfromthoseinthehomeculture?Whichofthegestures
shownwouldbeusedindifferentsituationsorevenavoidedinthehomeculture?Anotheractivitywouldbeto
invitelearnerstoroleplayemotions(Tomalin&Stempleski,1993:116117):Theteacherwritesalistofseveral
wordsindicatingemotions(happiness,fear,anger,joy,pain,guilt,sadness)andthenasksthestudentstousefacial
expressionsandgesturestoexpresstheseemotions.Thenfollowsadiscussiononthedifferentwaysinwhich
peoplefromdifferentculturesexpressemotionsaswellasinterpretgesturesasindicestoemotions.AsStraub
(1999:6)succinctlyputsit,[b]yunderstandinghowculturesandsubculturesorcoculturesusethesesignsto
communicate,wecandiscoverapersonssocialstatus,groupmembership,andapproachability.Accordingto
him,itisimportanttoencouragelearnerstospeculateonthesignificanceofvariousstylesofclothing,the
symbolicmeaningsofcolors,gestures,facialexpressions,andthephysicaldistancepeopleunconsciouslyput
betweeneachother(ibid.),andtoshowinwhatwaysthesenonverbalcuesaresimilarto,oratvariancewith,
thoseoftheirculture.
Hereinliestheroleofliteratureintheforeignlanguageclassroom.Ratherthanbeingafifthadjuncttothefour
skills(reading,writing,speaking,andlistening),culturecanbestfinditsexpressionthroughthemediumof
literature.AsValdes(1986:137)notes,literatureisaviablecomponentofsecondlanguageprogramsatthe
appropriatelevelandoneof[its]majorfunctionsistoserveasamediumtotransmitthecultureofthepeople
whospeakthelanguageinwhichitiswritten.
Firstofall,literarytextsareanuntappedresourceofauthenticlanguagethatlearnerscanavailthemselvesof.
Exposuretoliteraryworkscanhelpthemtoexpandtheirlanguageawarenessanddeveloptheirlanguage
competence.Moreover,tryingtointerpretandaccountforthevalues,assumptions,andbeliefsinfusingthe
literarytextsofthetargetcultureisinstrumentalindefiningandredefiningthoseobtaininginthehomeculture
(Gantidou,personalcommunication).Ofcourse,literaturecanextendtocovertheuseoffilmandtelevisioninthe
FLclassroom,fortheyhavethecapacitytopresentlanguageandsituationsimultaneously,thatis,languagein
fullycontextualizedform(Corder,1968,citedinJalling,1968:65).Amajorshortcoming,though,isthatthe
viewercanonlybeanobserver,notaparticipant.Thereisonlyreactionbutnointeractiononherpart(ibid.:68).
Whatismore,therearesomedifficultiesregardingthemethodologyofteachingliterature.Carter(1990,citedin
Carter&McRae,1996),forexample,cautionsthatalimitedknowledgeoflinguisticscouldblindfoldteachersand
studentstothefactthatliterarytextsareholisticartefactswhicharesituatedwithinculturaltraditions,are
historicallyshapedandgrowoutofthelivedexperiencesofthewriter(Carter&McRae,1996:xxii).
Theliteratureoncultureteachingmethodologyisvastandagreatmanytechniqueshavebeenemployed,inan
attempttostripawaythelayersofobfuscationthetermculturehasbeencloakedin,andshowthatabasic
competenceintheEnglishlanguageproper,withaminimumofculturalreferences(Bessmertnyi,1994),notonly
isoflittlevaluebutcanalsoleadtomisunderstanding,cultureshock,evenanimosityamongnations.Whatshould
bemadeexplicitisthattheculturalreferencesBessmertnyialludestocanonlyactasfacilitatingdevices,soto
speak,intheprocessofsocialisationintothetargetcommunity.Knowingasecondorforeignlanguageshould
openwindowsonthetargetcultureaswellasontheworldatlarge.Bythesametoken,speakingEnglishor
ChineseshouldgivethelearnertheopportunitytoseetheworldthroughEnglishorChineseeyes,without
makinghimrelinquishhisowngripofreality,hispersonalidentity,whichcanstepbackandevaluatebothhome
andtargetcultures.Inasense,culturalknowledgeandexperienceshouldmakeusawarethat,farfrombecoming
membersofthesamemonoculturalglobalvillage(Kramsch,1987c),wecanactuallybecomeobserversand
participantsatthesametime,registeringwhatistranspiringineverycultureandtryingtofindthirdplaces

(Kramsch,1993),athirdniche,fromwhichtodivineperniciousdichotomiesandbridgeculturalgaps.Afterall,as
regardslanguageteachers,[w]ecannotteachanunderstandingoftheforeignaslongasthefamiliarhasnot
becomeforeigntousinmanyrespects(Hunfeld,1990:16,translatedby,andcitedin,Kramsch,1993:234).

Conclusion
Bywayofconclusion,weshouldreiteratethemainpremiseofthepresentstudy:theteachingofcultureshould
becomeanintegralpartofforeignlanguageinstruction.Cultureshouldbeourmessagetostudentsandlanguage
ourmedium(Peck,1998).Frontiershaveopenedandneverbeforehavenationscomeclosertooneanotherin
theory,atleast.Asaresult,peoplefromdifferentculturesweavetheirlivesintoaninternationalfabricthatis
beginningtofrayattheedgesbyvirtueofmiscommunicationandpropaganda.Inordertoavoidthisignominious
culturalandpoliticaldisintegration,andfosterempathyandunderstanding,teachersshouldpresentstudentswith
atruepictureorrepresentationofanothercultureandlanguage(Singhal,1998).Andthiswillbeachievedonlyif
culturalawarenessisviewedassomethingmorethanmerelyacompartmentalisedsubjectwithintheforeign
languagecurriculum;thatis,whencultureinhabitstheclassroomandundergirdseverylanguageactivity.
AccordingtoSinghal(1998),languageteachersoughttoreceivebothexperientialandacademictraining,withthe
aimofbecomingmediatorsincultureteaching(ibid.).Atanyrate,cultureteachingshouldaimtofoster
empathywiththeculturalnormsofthetargetlanguagecommunityandanincreasedawarenessofonesown
culturallogicinrelationtoothers(Willems,1992,citedinByram,Morganetal.,1994:67).Thisculturallogic,
though,isachievedthrougharecognitionofotherness,andofthelimitationsofonesownculturalidentity
(Killick&Poveda,1997).
Onapracticalnote,cultureteachingshouldallowlearnerstoincreasetheirknowledgeofthetargetculturein
termsofpeopleswayoflife,values,attitudes,andbeliefs,andhowthesemanifestthemselvesorarecouchedin
linguisticcategoriesandforms.Morespecifically,theteachingofcultureshouldmakelearnersawareofspeech
acts,connotations,etiquette,thatis,appropriateorinappropriatebehaviour,aswellasprovidethemwiththe
opportunitytoactoutbeingamemberofthetargetculture.Equippedwiththeknowledgethatsuchnotionsas
superiororinferiorculturesarenothingbutsweepinggeneralisationsemanatingfromlackofknowledgeand
disrespecttootherhumanbeingswithdifferentworldviews,learnerscandelveintothetargetlanguageanduseit
asatoolnotonlytocommunicateinthecountrywhereitisspokenbutalsotogiveasecond(orthird)voiceto
theirthoughts,thusflyinginthefaceofculturalconventionsandstereotypes.Tothisend,languageeducators
shouldnotonlyworktodispelstereotypes[and]pocketsofignorancebutcontributetolearners
understandingthatbeginswithawarenessofselfandleadstoawarenessofothers(Singhal,1998).Thereis
certainlyroomforimprovement,andthingsbodewellforthefuture.Beyondcurrentpractice,therearestillsome
areas,suchastheonesidentifiedbyLessardClouston(1997),thatneedfurtherinvestigation.Forexample,is
theresuchathingasanaturalorderinL2/FLcultureacquisition?Whatculturalpatternsdoforeignlanguage
studentsneedtolearnfirstandatwhatlevels?Furthermore,arethesepatternsbestlearntbymeansofimmersion
inthetargetculture,orarethereanytechniquesobviatingthisneed?Mostimportantly,aretheseacquiredpatterns
maintainedoverthelonghaul,oristheresomekindofregressionatwork?Oncethesebesettingissuesare
investigated,thenextstepistodosomeresearchoncontentandmaterialsdesignforculturalsyllabuses(see
Nostrand,1967).
Itgoeswithoutsayingthatforeignlanguageteachersshouldbeforeigncultureteachers,havingtheabilityto
experienceandanalyseboththehomeandtargetcultures(Byram,Morganetal.,1994:73).Theonusisonthem
toconveyculturalmeaningandintroducestudentstoakindoflearningwhichchallengesandmodifiestheir
perspectiveontheworldandtheirculturalidentityasmembersofagivensocialandnationalgroup(ibid.).
Unfortunately,byteachingaboutothercultures,foreignlanguageeducatorsdonotnecessarilynipprejudiceinthe
bud,sotospeak;culturalbiascanstillplaguetheveryaspectsofthetargetculturewhichteacherschooseto
indictoradvocate,asCormeraie(1997)insightfullyremarks.Itishopedthatthepresentpaperhascontrivedto
clarifymostoftheissuesitsetouttoinvestigate,andhashelpedcontributetoabetterunderstandingofculture
anditsimportanceintheforeignlanguageclassroom.

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