Culture for beginners: a subjective and realistic approach for adult language learners

Ros I Sole, Cristina (2003). Culture for beginners: a subjective and realistic approach for adult language learners. Language and Intercultural Communication, 3(2) 141 -150.

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Abstract

This paper analyses how cultural understanding of the target culture can be addressed at beginners' level. To do this, I will discuss how some theoretical and pedagogical principles from Intercultural Learning, Cultural Studies and Second Language Acquisition throw light on the teaching of culture at the outset of foreign language learning. While it is widely recognised that culture and language occur in tandem, there is a dearth of examples of how reflection about the target culture can be introduced in the adult beginners' language learning context. In this paper I will argue that the notion of culture as a negotiable entity can be introduced at the outset of language learning. The role of cultural identity and subjectivity in texts are the two key concepts on which this argument will be built. I will then describe how these ideas can be transferred to three different aspects of language teaching methodology: the need to portray heterogeneous national cultures and other markers of cultural identity, objectivity vs. subjectivity in texts, and the creation of fictional personal testimonies to experience the target culture. In order to illustrate these points, examples from two beginners' Spanish course books will be provided.

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