The Definition of Culture
Culture is defined with different terms depending on the time and personal idea of the scholar and for that reason it is a really complex phenomenon. Kramsch(1998) defines culture as ‘membership in a discourse community that shares a common social space and history, and common imaginings.(p.10). On the other hand, Liddicoat, Papademetre , Scarino and Kohler(2003) describe culture as
a complex system of concepts, attitudes, values, beliefs, conventions, behaviours, practices, rituals and lifestyle of the people who make up a cultural group, as well as the artefacts they produce and the institutions they create.(p.45)
In a study by Yajuan (2009), the author defines and categorizes the term under two broad titles. The first one is called as ‘advanced’ or ‘formal’ culture, which is in connection with civilization. It is also referred to as ‘cultural knowledge information’. The second category is ‘popular culture’ or ‘deep culture’, which is more related to everyday life and living style.
The Place of Culture in EFL Classes
As an undeniable fact, language and culture have an interdependent relationship and this relation is described with different terms in some studies such as linguaculture (Friedrich,1989) and languaculture(Risager,2005). Given the fact that the culture exerts considerable influence on language patterns and pragmatic use of it in a certain community, it is of great importance for a language learner to make great effort to develop his/her cultural awareness in that process.Mitchell and Myles(2004) express that ‘language and culture are not separate, but are acquired together, with each providing support for the development of the other’ (p.235). In order to understand the details of the matter clearly, it is necessary to define term ‘culture learning’ because there has been a great change in attitudes and approaches towards the incorporation of certain elements into ‘culture learning’ process. Culture learning is described as
the process of acquiring the culture-specific and culture-general knowledge, skills, attitudes required for effective communication and interaction with individuals from other cultures. It is a dynamic, developmental, and ongoing process which engages the learner cognitively, behaviourally and affectively(Paige,Jorstad,Siaya,Klein, & Colby,2003, p.177).
The influence of their own culture is to a great extent in developing and raising the learners’ cultural awareness. The learner is to have the opportunity to find a ‘third place’ between cultures in order to decentre from his/her own culture. In that way, they have the chance of establishing their own understanding of the target language culture and bridging the gap between these two cultures. Furthermore, the cultural awareness of the TLC is evaluated in two different perspectives. The first one is ‘dynamic approach’ to the internalization process of cultural components. In that view, the culture of a community is regarded to have an ongoing and changing nature. Oppositely, the developing nature of culture learning is not taken into account in ‘static approach’ because previously determined set of rules, rituals, pragmatic qualities of language are taught as the representatives of that culture without adding anything new in that process. The approach adopted by the instructor of the course determines the ways of acquiring cultural components in learners’ minds.
According to Tomalin and Stempleski(1993, p.5), cultural awareness embraces three qualities:
-awareness of one’s own culturally-induced behaviour
-awareness of the culturally-induced behaviour of others
-ability to explain one’s own cultural standpoint
There has been a great concern for the dialectical relation between language and culture in the last a few decades and the pendulum has swung back to the other extreme. At the beginning of the century, only the importance of...
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Bennett, M. J. (1993). How not to be a fluent fool: Understanding the cultural dimension of language . The Language Teacher, 27(9).
Pennycook, A. (1989). The concept of method, interested knowledge, and the politics of language yeaching. TESOL Quarterly, 23(4),589-618
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