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Culture Teaching in CET

By Don Carroll,2014-03-06 23:36
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i Culture Teaching in CET Abstract The rapid advancement in communication technology and the economic globalization provide far more chances and channels for college students to communicate with people from English-speaking countries. However, it is observed that although students have received formal English education for several years, most of t..

    Culture Teaching in CET

    Abstract

    The rapid advancement in communication technology and the economic globalization provide far more chances and channels for college students to communicate with people from English-speaking countries. However, it is observed that although students have received formal English education for several years, most of them remain deficient in the intercultural communicative competence, which is a problem that is attracting English educational expertsand teachersattention because

    developing college studentsintercultural communicative competence has been set as the one of important goals of foreign language teaching in China. To achieve this goal, culture teaching is indispensable in college English teaching. With the aim of improving culture teaching in college English teaching, this dissertation makes an attempt to establish a conceptual framework for culture teaching in college English teaching and explores some strategies and effective methods to develop students

    intercultural communicative competence.

    Key words: language; culture education; intercultural; cultural differences

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    内容摘要

    随着快速发展的通信技术和经济全球化,大学生有了更多的机会和途径去与说英语的外国人交流。然而,研究发现,尽管学生们接受英语教育很多年,但是他们中的大多数仍然缺乏跨文化交际能力。因为发展大学生跨文化交际能力是我国外语教学的重要目标,因此这个问题引起了众多英语教育专家和教师的关注。要想实现这一目标,在大学英语教学中,文化教学是不可缺少的。为了提高大学英语教学中的文化教学,本文试图建立文化教学的概念架构,并探索培养学生跨文化交际能力的教学策略和有效的方法。

关键词(语言;文化教育;跨文化;文化的不同

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    Contents

    AbstractEnglish………………………………………………………………. i AbstractChinese…………………………………………………………….... ii 1. Introduction……………………………………………………………………… 1 2. Culture and Culture Teaching……………………………………………………. 2 2.1. The Relationship between Culture and Language…………………………… 2 2.2. The Definitions and Classifications of Culture…………………………....... 3 2.3. The Significance of Culture Teaching………………………………………. 6 3. A Review of Culture Teaching and Relevant Research………………………..... 7 3.1. The History of Culture Teaching and Relevant Research Abroad………….. 7 3.2. The History of Culture Teaching and Relevant Research in China………… 9 4. The Conceptual Framework of Culture Teaching………………………………. 11 4.1. The Principles of Culture Teaching………………………………………… 11 4.2. The Contents of Culture Teaching…………………………………………. 12 5. Some Suggestions for Culture Teaching Practice………………………………. 12 5.1. The Change of Teaching Methods…………………………………………. 12 5.2. The Exploration of Culture-based Activities………………………………. 14 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………… 16 Works Cited……………………………………………………………………….. 17

1. Introduction

    The fast development of Chinas economy has brought about opportunities for

    international cultural exchanges which are going on with new scope, contents, forms and methods unheard of before. There has arisen perplexing problems of how to achieve successful intercultural communication .More and more English teachers in China have come to realize that language learning does not stop at the ability of producing and understanding grammatically correct sentences, vocabulary and syntax etc. does not necessarily add up to a good communicative competence in English. It is the case that native English speakers can make allowances for errors in grammar, word choices, syntax, etc. In their interactions with non-native speakers while it is a different case with intercultural miscommunication because the native speakers usually interpret violations of rules of speaking as bad manners

    (Hu,1988:27).Therefore culture teaching should become an indispensable part of foreign language teaching .

    Nowadays, college English has become one of the most important compulsory courses in most universities and colleges in China, it is consciously or unconsciously accepted by college English teachers that the goal of college English teaching is to equip students with intercultural competence and foreign teaching involves target culture teaching. However, in a lot of universities and colleges, there are still apparent defects in CET. For instance, although target culture teaching receives much more attention in research -oriented, far less importance is attached to it than it deserves in the teaching practice. In the classroom, some teachers endeavor to give explanations for new words and grammar rules, analyze structures of complicated sentences, and prepare students for all kinds of examinations by giving them a lot of preparatory exercises. Target culture teaching is sacrificed or just confined to introducing some cultural elements as the background knowledge needed in the texts. Obviously, they put more emphasis on developing students “linguistic competence and show little

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concern for developing students intercultural communicative competence.

    Accordingly, this dissertation argues it is an urgent task for CET teachers to find out the true view of current target culture teaching, trace the sources of those existing problems, and then find out effective ways to deal with the problems in culture teaching.

    2. Culture and Culture Teaching

    2.1. The Relationship between Culture and Language

    Culture and language are inseparably interwoven with each other because the language of a society is one aspect of its culture and culture in turn has profound influence on language. Someone describes the relationship between them this way: “a

    language is a part of culture and culture is a part of a language; the two are intricately interwoven so that one can not separate the two without losing the significance of either language or culture.”(Brown, H.D, 1980:124)

    Language is a part of culture and plays a very important role in it. Some social scientists consider language as the keystone of culture because it reflects the contents of culture and it is one of the most fundamental systems of culture and human society. In the broader sense, language is, on the one hand, the symbolic representation of a people; on the other hand, language comprises a people‟s historical and cultural

    backgrounds as well as their approaches to life and their ways of living and thinking. Therefore, language can help people express their understanding of and attitudes toward the world. Language can record the development of a nation and a society and people can learn culture left behind by their ancestors through the acquisition of language. Naturally, language becomes the embodiment of culture. Without language, culture would not be possibleIt is hard to imagine that one could adjust to a reality without the use of language. Just as Sapir says “the fact is that the real world is to a large

    extent unconsciously build upon the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality .The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds. (Sapir, qtd. in samovar and Porter1995:153).

    From this point of view, language is a form of human behavior that helps us

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    understand not only one another but also the culture. As the carrier of culture, language records all the material and spiritual achievements of human beings in history. As a matter of fact, various languages have done松、竹、梅or English words

    as “rose , lark and nightingale.

    The well-known Sapir Whorf hypothesis is often cited to illustrate the relation between culture and language. The hypothesis in essence states that language is a guide to social reality and implies that languages not a means of reporting experience but, more important, it is a way of defining experience. Although the Sapir??-Whorf hypothesis may be controversial, its implication to culture and language is clear: Language is a reflection of culture, and culture is a reflection of language. We have seen that culture influences language by way of symbols and rules as well as our perceptions of the universe. Equally important is the fact that meaning shifts from culture to culture.” (Samovar and porter:

    2000:123)

    Language and culture develop together and interact with each other, so it is understandable when so many linguists propose that learning a foreign language well means more than merely mastering its pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. In other words, learning a foreign language means learning to understand the world in which native speakers of the target language live. To be more specific, the target culture must be acquired as an internal part of language acquisition. 2.2. The Definitions and Classifications of Culture

    The relationship between language and culture has been widely studied and much has been achieved in this field. However there is much disagreement on the definition of culture and its various classifications. A survey of them will help to gain better understanding of the nature and characteristic of culture.

    Culture is an encyclopedic term and scholars have endeavored to define culture in various manners. Anthropologists define culture as any human behavior that is learned rather than genetically transmitted. They believe that culture is not necessarily high or low, and it exists in any type or stage of civilization. For example, Edward B. Tylor, a famous British anthropologist, gives a classic definition of culture in his book

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Primitive Culture (1920,qtd.in Hu Wenzhong and Gao Yihong, 1997:3) “culture

    includes knowledgebeliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” That is to say, in its anthropological sense,

    culture is any of customs, worldview language, kinship system, social organization, and other take-for-granted day-to-day practice of a people which set that group apart as a distinctive group. By the anthropological sense of the term “culture” people mean

    to consider that any aspect of the ideas , communications, or behaviors of group of people gives them a distinctive identify and membership.

    More recently, Bates and Plog (1990, qtd. In Samovar and Porter: 2000:36) propose an all-inclusive and descriptive definition, “culture is a system of shared

    beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that members of a society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning.” Bates and Plog‟s definition is broad enough to include most of the major territory of culture. Larry Samovar and Richard Porter give a more definite and specific definition of culture :“Culture refers to the cumulative deposits of

    knowledge, experience, meanings, beliefs, values, attitudes, religions, concepts of self, the universe and self-universe relationships, hierarchies of status, role expectations, spatial relations, and time concepts acquired by a large group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving. Culture can therefore include everything from rites of a passage to concepts of the soul.” (Larry Samovar and Richard Porter, 1995:48)

    Different people define culture from their respective perspectives. As a result, we have over one hundred and fifty different definitions as reviewed by Kroeber and Kulckhohn in their book culture: A Critical Review of concepts and Definitions1963!,and there are more than two hundred and fifty definitions as estimated by Qi Yucun(1992,6:4-6). It is both impossible and unnecessary to present all of them in this dissertation, but putting it simply, in a broad sense, culture refers to the whole of material and spiritual wealth human beings have created and accumulated in the course of social development; in a narrow sense, and culture refers to social ideology, and its corresponding institutions and organizing structures. Putting it in the simplest way, culture refers to the entire life of a society.

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    There are also many ways of classifying culture. In terms of sociology, culture includes both material culture and non-material culture. Material culture refers to physical arte facts or objects like stone axes, computers, loincloths, tuxedos, automobiles, paintings, hammocks and dome stadium. Non-material culture refers to the abstract creations like beliefs, symbols norms, customs and institutional arrangements.

    Allen and Valetta propose that culture includes culture with a capital “C” and culture with a small “C”, with the former referring to a people‟s achievements and contributions to civilization: art, music literature, architecture , technology, scientific discoveries and philosophy, while the latter focusing on the behavior patterns of the life style of people: when and what they eat, how they make a living, how they organize their society, what attitudes they have towards friends and members of their families, how they act in different situations, which expressions they use to show approval and disapproval, what traditions they must observe, and so on.

    Professor Hu Wenzhong (1988:154) groups culture into three categories: high culture, popular culture, and deep culture. High culture refers to philosophy, literature, fine arts, music and religion. This is the culture understand in its narrow sense. Popular culture, broader sense of culture, includes customs and habits, rites and rituals, ways of living and all interpersonal behaviors. Deep culture refers to concept of beauty, definitions of modesty, ordering of time, tempo of work, patterns of group decision-making, approaches to problem-solving, roles in relation to status by age, sex, class, occupation, kinship, body language, so on and so forth. Deep culture is closely related to what may be termed the national temperament of a people.

    Although no unanimous conclusion about definitions and classifications of culture has been drawn till now, each kind of interpretation and classification of culture provides insight into better understanding of its nature, function, components and characteristics and points to the fact: no human group or society exits without culture and culture is a universal fact of human life.

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2.3. The Significance of Culture Teaching

    The first one is the interference of cultural differences. As we know that language is the perfect symbolism of experience and the full meaning of a word for an individual is the result of his or her experience of growing up. Because of the differences of cultures and the interrelationship between language and culture, it is hard to establish exact equivalence between words and expressions in two languages. The very meaning that a word refers to depends greatly on its corresponding culture. Chinese learners cannot experience or observe the cultural and social elements of the target language directly; the learning material available for them may carry some information about the target language. There are more and more foreigners in China, and learners can get more information from them.

    Since cultural differences are universal, so is cultural interference. Therefore, misunderstanding caused by cultural interference is an important source of culture breakdown. A lot of common cultural mistakes made by language learners are due to the ignorance of cultural differences and the incorrect transference Chinese culture to English culture. If learners are unaware of the existence of the cultural differences caused by such factors such as age, race, gender, social class, generation, history, regional origin, nationality, education, conversational styles and so on, they may place the blame for communication failure on “other people”. Therefore, one of the most

    important aspects of CET is helping students to cross this cultural gap caused by the cultural differences. Adequate knowledge of target cultures can help students to transfer easily and appropriately from the mother tongue to the target language, and really “do as the Roman‟s do.”

    The second one is requirement of intercultural communicative competence. Communication is important and indispensable, for people are communicating everywhere all the time and in different manners for different purposes. Intercultural communication has been existing for thousands of years and a case in point is China‟s

    Silk Road in Han dynasty. Intercultural communication occurs whenever people from different cultural backgrounds contact with each other.

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    In order to understand intercultural communicative competence, we should first come to communicative competence. Hymes coins the term “communicative competence” to refer to the ability to produce utterances which are not only grammatical but also appropriate to the linguistic and situational context. According to Hymes, communicative competence includes knowledge as to when to speak, when not, and as to what to talk about with whom, where, in what manner (Hymes, 1972: 277).

    Since the late 1970s, the notion of intercultural communication competence has been proposed as one of the main goals of English teaching. Intercultural communication competence means being able to communicate efficiently and effectively with people from other cultures, to achieve mutual understanding and to gain better cooperation. But successful intercultural communication results in behaviors that are regarded proper and suitable for the expectation and the demand, which are constrained by the nature of the relationship between the interactants and the specific situation. Intercultural communication competence has been accepted as one of the major aims of foreign language teaching in many parts of the world. The acquisition of intercultural communicative competence will finally bring about the internal change of learners: the transference of the way of perceiving oneself, others and the world so that they will lessen misunderstanding. And more importantly, develop critical self-reflection by learning to look at the world “through different

    eyes.

    In short, to develop college students‟ intercultural communicative competence and to contribute to the improvements of their cultural quality are two of the aims. In view of the first aim, culture plays a critical part in communication and needs to be given due attention in language learning and teaching; in view of the second, culture needs to be made one of focuses of CET.

    3. A Review of Culture Teaching and Relevant Research

    3.1. The History of Culture Teaching and Relevant Research Abroad

    In some Western countries, the practice of culture teaching in foreign language

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