Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Reading 3

Thank you for this reading, Gordon! It addresses some of the issues that I raised in yesterday’s posting. I think the questions Barry Tomalin raises are very important, not only for English, but for any language we might be teaching. Here are my answers to two of his questions:  

Should we provide more cultural input in our ELT textbooks or should we ‘deculturalise’ our textbooks to give them the widest application?
In my opinion, “deculturalizing” language is impossible. How could you possibly treat the distinction between “tu” and “vous” in French as a purely grammatical aspect? Learning to use those two different forms in the culturally appropriate ways (which differ from place to place) is very important. And these cultural nuances need to be taught explicitly.  

Do students need to understand basic English before they begin looking at culture and if so what level are we talking about? Is it A1, A2, or B1 or even B2?
Cultural aspects of language need to be taught starting in lesson one. How do you say hello? When do you say “salut” and when “bonjours”? As I said before, language and culture cannot be separated and need to be taught together at every level.

Finally, I have another question to add: What is culture? I find that we often teach folklore. Is “le Bonhomme Carnaval” really worth teaching year after year? What does it really say about Quebec culture? I think we need to find more exciting and meaningful ways to teach culture. What about a cheese tasting in class, for example? That would be a great way to experience some authentic French culture. Anyway, culture is definitely something we should be thinking about!

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