An Analysis of Strengthening the Intercultural Education in Foreign Language Teaching

2019-11-07 03:49:26 校园英语·下旬 2019年10期

【Abstract】 In the process of globalization, the study of intercultural communication becomes more and more important. In this easy the writer wants to talk about how to strengthen the intercultural education in foreign language teaching.

【Key words】 intercultural communication; education


Intercultural communication is one of the young academic studies all over the world, so there is no absolute definition of it. Previous definition has described the central terms---communication and inter-culture, by combining them together. Koester & Lustig(1999)have defined intercultural communication as the communication that “occurs when large and important cultural differences create dissimilar interpretations and expectations about how to communicate competently.” Although many intercultural experiences occur indirectly through being exposed to messages that we need, see and hear in mass media including books, magazines, newspapers, movies and television programs, we are primarily concerned with communication situation of direct, face-to-face encounters between individuals of different cultural background.

Teachers and students are two aspects in English teaching and learning activities. Especially when the teachers, who are lack of specialist knowledge on intercultural competence, how can their students competent? Till now, language skill and study ability are the main standards to judge a teacher. Besides, there is another problem that even when some teachers are quite aware of cultural teaching and strongly support it, they still adopt traditional teaching method in practice. Moore (1996) found that cultural teaching training could help the teachers to identify their aims, design and develop effective teaching material successfully. Leeman & Ledoux (2003) also pointed out: “competence in intercultural education is not an extra fact of teachers professional development but should become an integral part of that profession.” Generally, besides linguistic knowledge, a qualified language teacher should also be clear about foreign language learning theory, foreign language teaching methodology and teaching practice in class. Being an intercultural language teacher, however, these requirements are far from adequate, because culture-based language teaching is to cultivate intercultural awareness and intercultural competence instead of simple linguistic skills. So there are more qualifications for being an intercultural foreign language teacher in three perspectives, namely, knowledge level, competence level and personality level.

It is necessary for an English teacher to master the general knowledge about cultures, including the components, features and functions of culture and so on, then about characteristics of the target culture, the target community and difference between domestic culture and its counterpart, as well as some basic knowledge on intercultural communication and intercultural competence, and the elements that will easily lead to inappropriateness or ineffectiveness when communicating with others. In Chinese, questions like “Have you had your breakfast?” or “Where are you going?” are often used to greet a person or to initiate a conversation. However, in western countries, they begin their conversation with talking about weather. The question about meal would suggest an invitation and the question “Where are you going?” is normally a request for information and only used by someone in authority or between very close friends. In English-speaking countries, people regard dogs as the loyal friends. Whats more, some people treat them as family members. So in English, we can find a lot of words connected with dogs used to describe some kind of person. Most of these words are good. For example: lucky dog, top dog and so on. While in China, dogs are always used to call bad people. So teachers should point out this kind of intercultural difference in the teaching. Another important factor teachers should pay attention is that some words or terms in both languages that appear to refer to the same object or concept on the surface, but which actually refer to quite different things. Take “restroom” as an example. Many students think that it is the place for people to have a rest. But in American usage, a restroom is a room in a theatre, department store or other large building equipped with toilets and washbasins for the use of customers, employees, ect. Nowadays a lot of American people see restroom equal to washroom.

A qualified intercultural language teacher should know how to transfer the cultural knowledge to their students effectively. In an ideal intercultural language teaching class, proper textbooks and teaching material must be selected carefully by the teacher, who is quite aware of the connection of language and culture, and the teacher should make good use of selected material in various ways to inspire learners ability of self-study, thus cultivating their language competence as well as intercultural competence. Mass media, such as the Internet, films, newspapers and magazines are all considered an insightful means for teaching culture because they reflect peoples way of life. Student will spontaneously ask questions about puzzling aspects of society and life as reflected in these materials. Therefore “all such materials should be selected with an eye to the subculture diversity of the target community”, its socio-economic, religious, regional, generation and ethnic sub-culture so that learners do not end up thinking of the target culture as one uniform set of experience and values. Besides, original films are widely welcome due to their vivid presentation of both language and cultural knowledge based on authentic circumstances. Films provide both audio and visual information which help the students understand the language more easily. And films show real-life situation in which characters speak the English of the real world.

Today we are in a period when economy is developing rapidly and the world is getting smaller and smaller. We have more opportunity to communicate with people all over the world. In English teaching, language teaching is inseparable from culture teaching. Without culture teaching, it is impossible to teach culture. Without culture teaching, our students will have no real communicative competence and can not use English appropriately and acceptably. Teaching target culture in foreign language education is a perplexing issue yet it cannot be neglected.


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[2]Dunne,C.(2013).Exploring motivations for intercultural contact among host country university students: An Irish case study. International Journal of Intercultural Relations.