The Importance of Teaching Culture in the Foreign Language Classroom

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The Importance Of Teaching Culture In The Foreign Language Classroom
Radical Pedagogy (2001)
ISSN: 1524-6345
The Importance Of Teaching Culture In The Foreign Language Classroom
Language And Culture: What IS Culture And Why Should IT BE Taught?
In this section, we will briefly examine the relationship between language and culture and see why the teaching of culture should constitute an integral part of the English language curriculum. To begin with, language is a social institution, both shaping and shaped by society at large, or in particular the ‘cultural niches’ (Eleanor Armour-Thomas & Sharon-ann Gopaul-McNicol, 1998) in which it plays an important role. Thus, if our premise is that language is, or should be, understood as
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Culture...is the foundation of communication.
Moreover, given Duranti’s (1997: 24) definition of culture as ‘something learned, transmitted, passed down from one generation to the next, through human actions, often in the form of face-to-face interaction, and, of course, through linguistic communication’, it is patently obvious that language, albeit a subpart of culture, plays a pivotal role. Bourdieu has emphasized the importance of language not as an autonomous construct but as a system determined by various socio-political processes. For him, a language exists as a linguistic habitus (see Bourdieu, 1990: 52), as a set of practices that imply not only a particular system of words and grammatical rules, but also an often forgotten or hidden struggle over the symbolic power of a particular way of communicating, with particular systems of classification, address and reference forms, specialized lexicons, and metaphors (for politics, medicine, ethics) (Bourdieu, 1982: 31, cited in Duranti, 1997: 45).
At any rate, to speak means to
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