Thursday, 26 July 2012

Article 3: Making Culture Happen...

I like Tomalin’s description of teaching culture as a language skill, because I agree that, in experience of second-language studies, it is largely taught as facts—“these buildings are from France”, “Did you know the French like to eat…?”. Many of the curriculum I used as a student and as a student teacher presented a stereotypical view of France, rarely mentioning other francophone countries. Beyond the classroom, it seems that language and culture are inherently connected, so I wonder why learning culture doesn’t automatically accompany “academic” language learning.  Tomalin’s description of culture as something needed to function in a particular society impliesthat “facts and information” become part of the skill of culture only when they inform behaviour. Perhaps teaching French as a Second Language differs from teaching ESL because, in Vancouver, most students are not "overtly" exposed to a francophone community outside of the classroom so they rarely get to practice “the aptitudes and skills required to understand and work successfully in another culture”. If this is so then taking language learning outside the class is essential. Through the Internet, students can be exposed to cultures that may not be largely represented where they live. In other ways, culture is part of the books students study in a second language. Reading several short novels for a French literature class (some from Quebec and some from France), I noticed different cultural viewpoints. So sensitizing students to this is another way to involve culture beyond simply learning facts.

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