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Sociocultural Factors in Language Learning and Teaching


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Culture, Language and Thought


Language

Thought
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Culture

What is culture?

Culture, in anthropology, are patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share. Culture distinguishes one human group from others. It also distinguishes humans from other animals.

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A peoples culture includes their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems.

Microsoft Encarta 2009. 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.


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Alright, so culture and language reflect one another. But how can culture affect learning and teaching a language?
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What initially comes into your mind when you hear the following languages?

American English British English Japanese German French

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Stereotyping Generalization Attitude Language Success


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Second Culture Learning

Second language learning also involves learning a second identity a second culture. This second culture is (either) observed and/or experienced.

Brown, H.D., (2000). Principles of language learning and teaching. Chapter 7. White Plains NY: Addison Wesley Longman Inc.
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The necessity of learning English The need to understand how native speakers use the language Getting alternative sources for observation Observing the native speakers culture Acquiring the culture
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Learning the culture

World Englishes

English as used worldwide: the English language in all its varieties as it is spoken and written throughout the world

Microsoft Encarta 2009. 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

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G L O B A L I Z A T I O N
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American and British English English in Asia and Europe Discipline Ethnicity

P A R T I C I P A T I O N

Culture in the Classroom

Intrinsic motivation is a powerful incentive for learning. A moderate to high level of risk-taking behavior is important. Language and culture are inextricably intertwined. Successful learners make a strategic investment in their learning.
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Self-confidence is an important precursor to success.

Culturally Appropriate Techniques: A Checklist

Does the technique recognize the value and belief systems that are presumed to be a part of the culture(s) of the students? Does the technique refrain from any demeaning stereotypes of any culture, including the culture(s) of your students?

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Does the technique refrain from any possible devaluing of the students' native language(s)? Does the technique recognize varying degrees of willingness of students to participate openly to due to collectivism/individualism and power distance? If the technique requires students to go beyond the comfort zone of uncertainty avoidance in their culture(s), does it do so emphatically and tactfully?
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Is the technique sensitive to the perceived roles of males and females in the culture(s) of your students? Does the technique sufficiently connect specific language features (e.g., grammatical categories. lexicon, discourse) to cultural ways of thinking, feeling and acting? Does the technique in some way draw on the potentially rich background experiences of the students, including their own experiences in other cultures?
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