Why provide cultural lessons in an ESL Class?
Sep 29, 2016 English as a Second Language (ESL) 1920 Views
In this age people all over the world have now come into contact with one another more time and again. Thanks to the rising popularity and the advancement of information and technology. Post globalization, the need for mastering a foreign language (especially English) besides one’s own mother term seems to be growing dramatically. More people, especially the non natives are learning languages for their personal and professional needs. Although in the field of language teaching TEFL has done an outstanding job to increasingly better hold the needs of language learners, the field may have to do even more and better to deal with the various needs of non native language learners.
Specifically, the cultural aspects of the language must be taught in a TEFL class at the same time with the linguistic aspects, which has conventionally been given emphasis on. Understanding and interpreting the cultures of non native language learners is a significant part of the ESL teachers' role. Serving the non native grownups is even more of a challenge. Misinterpretations are bound to occur on both sides due to cultural and communication differences. Whenever a TEFL teacher thinks an ESL learners’ behaviour seems uncalled for, weird, rude, or in some way unexpected, it is possible that this is a sign of cultural confusion. And it is the ESL trained who is called upon to unlock the cultural dilemma.
For ESL teachers in a foreign country, culture lessons can help the non native learners get ready for studying in a foreign country in native English speaking countries. EFL teachers should not just draw learners’ interest to facts about other cultures, but they should teach in such a way as to make it clear that communication is more than the exchange of information and opinions. Effective intercultural communication requires empathy, admiration, frankness and sensitivity. Suppose when a person is teaching in China where the students are planning to either visit study or move to the United States, and they are interested in better understanding what life was like outside the world they knew. A lot of these students had predetermined notions of life in the States, and they are surprised to find out that reality does not always go with those notions that are reinforced by local perception. Culture lessons in TEFL class can also help students who have no urgent plans for visiting other countries. When they learn culture of another country, they are actively learning new vocabulary as well as the subject. This will make the non native learners available with a wider range of ideas to discuss in and out of class.
Culture lessons in TEFL class can also endow students with an opportunity to learn about authentic English accents. Most students do not know about the diversity of accents around the world or the diversity in speech patterns to go along with those accents. Using proverbs in class as a way to look at culture, its values, and analyze the type cast of the culture. Debate can focus on how the proverbs are different from or similar to the proverbs in the students’ non native language. The students are usually inquisitive about the dissimilar foods, art and songs that have value in different cultures and a TEFL teacher can teach that by incorporating important elements of cultural celebrations into English language classroom.
The teacher should also incorporate creativity among non native students who may feel self conscious to speak when they are hesitant of a word or phrase. EFL teachers will be challenged to take advantage of the situation by creating opportunities for communication based on the values, cultural custom, and needs of learners, rather than on the syllabi and text books developed in native speakers communities. Most significantly, a language learning curriculum should help the learners to develop an “inter cultural understanding” in order to “decode” culture in their own perspective.