The Factors That Necessitate And Influence The Teaching Of Culture

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In this article, Weiqiang Mao (2009) examines the factors that necessitate and influence the teaching of culture in EFL classrooms. Though the focus is on English language classes in China, I believe the core message can be applied to second language classes anywhere. The EFL community now acknowledges the importance of culture, however, it’s presence in the curriculum remains sparse for a number of reasons including “lack of time, uncertainty about which aspects of culture to teach, and the lack of practical techniques” (Mao, p. 144). Additionally, the majority of language proficiency tests that score and identify students’ abilities are mainly testing for mechanical knowledge and examinees’ skills at sitting for tests, leaving cultural knowledge untouched.
The shift in interest in cultural knowledge is due, in large part, to the cultural studies field. There is concern that certain language and cultures are hegemonic powers and the learning of them may lead to the “loss of cultural identity of the learners through the process of acculturation imposed on them” (Mao, p. 145); cultural studies, however, is focused on breaking down hegemony and fostering a deeper understanding of one’s own culture while learning about others. Having a strong sense of cultural awareness also allows individuals to successfully communicate in their second languages. Possessing the knowledge of how the first language and native culture relates to the second language, or intercultural awareness,
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