ELEMENTS OF CULTURE
AND CIVILIZATION IN
TEACHING ENGLISH
IZABELA DANKIĆ, PH. D.
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WHAT IS CULTURE?

“ A society’s culture consists of whatever it
is one has to know or believe in order to
operate in a manner acceptable to its
members. Culture is not a natural
phenomenon; it does not consist of things,
people’s behavior or emotions. It is rather
organization of these things. It is the form
of things that people have in mind, their
models of perceiving, relating, and
otherwise interpreting them”
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What is culture?
“Cultural knowledge is “socially acquired”.
We learn all necessary behaviors that are
part of that knowledge. It is a “knowhow”
necessary to fulfill social requirements”
(Wardhaugh, 1998)
 “Culture is “knowledge” which is shared
and negotiated between people, belonging
to all of them”

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What is culture?

“Culture is associated with civilization, and
culture and civilization refer to the whole
way of life of a foreign country included but
not limited to its production in the arts,
philosophy, and “high culture” in general”.
(Byram, 1989)
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What is culture?

“Culture is the systematic, rather arbitrary, more
or less coherent, group invented, and group
shared creed from the past that defines the
shape of “reality”, and assigns the sense and
worth of things; it is modified by each generation
and in response to adaptive pressures; it
provides the code that tells people how to
behave predictably and acceptably, the cipher
that allows them to derive meaning from
language and other symbols, the map that
supplies the behavioral options for satisfying
human needs.” (Seeley, 1997)
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THE ELEMENTS (ASPECTS) OF BRITISH CULTURE:
COUNTRY AND PEOPLE
EVERDAY LIFE
HISTORY
THE MEDIA
GEOGRAPHY
TRANSPORT
IDENTITY
WELFARE
ATTITUDES
HOUSING
POLITICAL LIFE
FOOD AND DRINK
THE MONARCHY
SPORT AND
THE GOVERNMENT
COMPETITION
PARLIAMENT
THE ARTS
ELECTIONS
HOLIDAYS
THE LAW
SPECIAL OCCASIONS
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
RELIGION
EDUCATION
THE ECONOMY
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CULTURE AND LANGUAGE

Language expresses cultural reality
Language is “the principal means” of
communication in our everyday life. People
belonging to the same society share common
knowledge and common experience. When they
communicate they refer to that knowledge and
they can express their personal opinions,
beliefs, and point of view.
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
Language embodies cultural reality
Language is not only used to express
experiences, but also to create experiences
because of its verbal and non-verbal aspects.
The medium people choose for communication
is important in creation of such experiences
(whether is spoken, written, or visual medium) .
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CULTURE AND LANGUAGE

Language symbolizes cultural reality.
Language has itself a cultural value for its
speakers. It is seen as an aspect of their
“social identity”. They identify themselves
and others through the use of language.
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2. TEACHING CULTURE (TC) V.
TEACHING LANGUAGE (TL)
“LANGUAGE IS THE GLUE THAT BINDS A
GROUP OF PEOPLE TOGETHER”, (BROWN,
1987) – THE MOST OBVIOUS MARKER OF
CULTURAL IDENTITY
 THERE IS QUITE A LONG HISTORY OF
TEACHING CULTURE IN EUROPE
(LANDESKUNDE, CIVILISATION) AND IN
AMERICA
 IN BRITAIN, THE FOCUS IS ON HISTORY,
INSTITUTIONS, CUSTOMS IN ADDITION TO
CUSTOMARY LANGUAGE AND LITERARY
STUDIES)
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TC v.TL
After the World War II the idea of teaching
culture through teaching language was
strengthened together with the
development and influence of
anthropology. This was particularly strong
in America where the American Committee
on language and culture expressed the
following:
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TC v. TL



(1) Language is a part of culture and must be
approached with the same attitudes that govern
our approach to culture as a whole.
(2) Language conveys culture so that the
language teacher is also of necessity a teacher
of culture.
(3) Language is itself subject to culturally
conditioned attitudes and beliefs which can not
be ignored in the language classroom. (Stern,
1996, p.251).
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TC v. TL
Theory v. Practice
 They have found out that “young people
acquire some information but very little
knowledge of the foreign culture through
language classes; the influence of extracurricular forces such as the media is
greater than the intuitive and unsystematic
efforts of the teachers”. (Byram and
Morgan, 1994, p. 3)
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TC v. TL
Theory v. Practice

Culture is seen as mere information conveyed
by the language, not as a feature of language
itself.

A great number of studies recommend that
culture should be taught together with language,
culture is still rarely seen in the same light as
language.
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TC v. TL
Theory v. Practice
 English teachers were educated to
become teachers of language and
literature.“It is too readily assumed
that exposure to language teaching
will lead to some kind of cultural
knowledge.
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TC v. TL
FOREIGN CULTURE TEACHING THEORIES:

Establishing a sphere of interculturality - to be
able to understand a foreign culture we have to
put it in relation with our own culture.

Teaching culture as an interpersonal process -replace the presentation/prescription of
cultural facts and behaviors by the teaching of
a process that applies to understanding
differences
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TC v. TL
Foreign culture teaching theories:
3. Teaching culture through differences that exist
between cultures
4. Crossing disciplinary boundaries – they
encourage language teachers to broaden their
readings to include besides literature, studies
by social scientists, ethnographers, and
sociolinguistics on both their society and the
societies that speak the language they are
teaching.
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TC v. TL
Foreign culture teaching theories:
5. Intercultural tolerance must be
emphasized in helping teachers develop
awareness (overcome stereotypes ,
prejudices, one-sided views) and
relationships, discover personal
experiences, horizontal relationships in the
classroom, relationships among families,
neighbors, free activities and media.
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TC v. TL
The UNESCO GUIDE suggests the “realms
of learning” should encompass (p. 30):
1. welcoming awareness of the presence of
others in one’s social environment,
2. acknowledgment of the positive aspects
of diversity and its appreciation,
3. respect and integration of differences to
enrich and strengthen society,
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TC v. TL
The UNESCO GUIDE suggests the “realms of learning”
should encompass (p. 30):
4.vision and work towards achieving
common goals that are mutually
advantageous to diverse groups
5. recognition of interdependence and
human universals and work towards
positive arrangements of diversity in an
interdependent world.
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3. ATTITUDES AND THE ENGLISH
CLASSROOM PRACTICE
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A video grab image shows John Bercow
speaking to Britain’s Prime Minister David
Cameron as he is led to the Speaker’s
chair after being reelected as speaker of
the House of Commons, in central
London, May 18, 2010.
Betty Boothroyd
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“FALLACY OF PROJECTED COGNITIVE
SIMILARITY” – we all project the logic of
our own reasoning to explain the actions
of others.
THE OBJECTIVE: to get students thinking
about different forms of human behavior
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What are intrinsic and extrinsic factors that
help shape English language teachers’
attitudes?
Intrinsic – factors which help shape personal
position based on prior knowledge and
past experiences (education,
travels, encounters with foreigners,
professional or private life)
Extrinsic – outside factors which influence
teachers’ position on foreign language
teaching and learning? (national
curriculum)
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National Curriculum in England and Wales
(B-H) indirectly or directly indicate that TFL
should:

offer insight into the culture and civilization of the
countries where the language is spoken

encourage positive attitudes to foreign language
learning and to speakers of foreign languages and
a sympathetic approach to other cultures and
civilizations;

develop pupils’ understanding of themselves and
their own culture.
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The Common European Framework of Reference
for Languages
The following competences and skills in culture
teaching and learning are particularly emphasized:
1.sociocultural knowledge – knowledge of society
and culture of the community
2. intercultural awareness – knowledge, awareness
and understanding of the relation (similarities
and distinctive differences) between the “world
of origin” and the “world of the target community”.
It is also enriched by awareness of a wider range
of cultures and it helps to place them both in
context.
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For example: “Learning Lakota”
“Kill the Indian, and save the man” – “Genocide
of a culture”
http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-30fall-2006/learning-lakota
 Intercultural
skills and know-how
The ability to bring the culture of origin and the
foreign culture into relation with each other
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Attitude formation and attitude change are
complex processes and mere exposure to
language learning and information about other
cultures will not necessarily lead to the desired
results.
The Bosnian study –conflicting results
Teachers support systematic British culture
teaching, but because students have other
opportunities to learn about the Anglo-American
culture they emphasize language skills.
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4. The Goals of Cultural Instruction
Intercultural competence is the objective of
teaching culture.


“All students will develop the cultural
understandings, attitudes and performance skills
needed to function appropriately within a society
of the target language and to communicate with
the culture bearer” (Seeley, 1984)
The selection of cultural data should be guided
by how well they will increase students’ skills in
intercultural communication.
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7 major goals of cultural instruction
1. Reasons behind culturally conditioned behavior
Understanding that people act the way they do
because they are using options the society allows for
satisfying basic physical and psychological needs.
Different cultural patterns must be employed if one
wants to satisfy basic needs. These include also nonlinguistic elements (facial expressions, visual
interaction, body movement and gesture, proximity
behaviors, and multichannel communication)
2. Interaction of language and social variables
Understanding that social variables as age, sex, social
class, and place of residence affect the way people
speak and behave.
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The Goals of Cultural Instruction
3. Conventional behavior in common situations
Understanding of the role convention plays in shaping
behavior by demonstrating how people act in different
situations.
4. Cultural connotations of words and phrases
An awareness that culturally conditioned images are
associated with even the most common target words
and phrases.
5. Evaluating statements about a society
The ability to evaluate the evidence to be able to make
objective statements about the target culture.
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The Goals of Cultural Instruction
6. Researching another culture
Skills to be able to research, find and
organize information about the target
culture from the library, the mass media,
people, and personal observation.
7. Attitudes toward other cultures
Develop intellectual curiosity about the
target culture and empathy toward its
people.
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How do we develop activities to fit these
goals?
1. Everything that you choose must have a deeper
cultural purpose.
2. One might say that these goals can be summed up
under one goal – to think like a native?
3. What is the position between the students’ native and
target language and culture? Croatian versus British?
Are we to celebrate Croatian over English?
(Beware of ethnocentrism (integration and loyalty among
members of the same group; negative attitude towards
foreigners, their culture and language and glorification
of one’s culture, but derogatory stereotyping of outgroup
characteristics).
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NC v. FC
Music
I don't ever wanna drink again
I just ooh I just need a friend
I'm not gonna spend ten weeks
have everyone think I'm on the mend
It's not just my pride
It's just 'til these tears have dried
They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know
know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go
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NC v. FC
Ne pomišljaj na kraj
iz srca mi dolaze
mračne i sumorne sjene
ne budi luda
ne pomišljaj na kraj
samo ti možeš
očima mojim vratiti sjaj
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NC v. FC

“In general Mendelssohn's personal life seems to have been fairly
conventional compared to his contemporaries Wagner, Berlioz, and
Schumann — save as regards his ambiguous relationship with the famed
Swedish soprano Jenny Lind whom he met in October 1844. An affidavit
from Lind's husband, Otto Goldschmidt indicates that Mendelssohn in 1847
requested for Lind (who was then not married) to elope with him to America.
Mendelssohn met and worked with Lind many times, and wrote the
beginnings of an opera, Lorelei, for her, based on the legend of the Lorelei
Rhine maidens; the opera was unfinished at his death. He is said to have
included a high F-sharp in his oratorio Elijah ("Hear Ye Israel") with Lind's
voice in mind, although she did not in fact sing this part until after his death,
at a concert in December 1848. In 1847 Mendelssohn attended a London
performance of Meyerbeer's Robert le diable —an opera which musically he
despised— in order to hear Lind's British debut, in the role of Alice. His
friend the critic Chorley, who was with him, wrote "I see as I write the smile
with which Mendelssohn, whose enjoyment of Mdlle. Lind's talent was
unlimited, turned round and looked at me,as if a load of anxiety had been
taken off his mind. His attachment to Mlle. Lind's genius as a singer was
unbounded, as was his desire for her success."
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NC v. FC



What would happen to an orchestra if the conductor wasn’t there –
could the musicians cope by themselves? Students will discover in
this music lesson.
These are all ideas that students can use to learn about the
conductor in the orchestra. There is a complete lesson plan on this
subject in Our Printable Music Lesson Plans Series
Demonstrate the basic beat patterns. Have students practice the
patterns using pencils or drinking straws as temporary batons.
Select individual students to choose a pattern, conduct it, and have
the other students identify it. Don’t forget to show the students the
beat patterns at different tempi (fast, medium and slow).
Dynamics are indicated by the size of the conducting gestures: big
gestures = loud, small movements = piano. Conduct a beat pattern
and have students count the beats out loud; ask them to get louder
and softer as you change the size of your gestures.
www.vjekoslavsutej.com
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How do we develop activities to fit these
goals?
reading emphatic literature to create empathy
2. watch emphatic films
3. mini dramas – three or more episodes representing cultural visit
1.
to a bar miscommunications. With each episode more information is
presented, but the precise cause of misunderstanding is not clear
until the end. (bar, child, windows, squash, mild beer (lager),
barman shouts,
4. culture assimilator episodes - interesting reading presenting a
problem situation. They are provided with four different answers and
they have to pick the right one. They are also provided with the
explanations. (Shrove Tuesday –meat on Monday, eggs on Tuesday
– pancakes)
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5.
culture capsule – usually a text accompanied with an activity that
supports or represents cultural information presented in the text.
While in culture assimilators students have to identify culturally appropriate
explanations for the described situations; in culture capsule the explanation
is both presented with a textual description, but also it is accompanied with
a multi media support. (meals – “tea” –urban working class dinner)
6. culture clusters – three or more capsules - a half an hour skit –
simulation of the situation described and talked about in the related
capsules.
7. ask the right questions – from trivial to questions that students find
to be interesting – for example making a scrapbook containing clippings
from magazines pertaining to what a student finds to be interesting and ask
and check it with the teacher.
8.interviews with native speakers or people from the local
community who lived in Britain.
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Concluding remarks





Avoid all generalizations, let culture teaching be individual.
The guiding principle in material and acitivity selection should be
what the cultural knowledge my students need to master in order to
communicatively succeed in the target country.
Use every opportunity for improving your knowledge of English and
of the Anglo-American culture as a teacher and help your students
develop that skill too. (“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”)
Nurture love and respect for your culture and your students’ cultures
to be able to respect the culture of the people whose language you
teach.
Your are the ambassadors of the Anglo-American culture among
your students.
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