Teaching language as culture in the foreign language classroom
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The relationship between language and culture has long been acknowledged, defined and discussed in the literature on foreign language learning and teaching (Kramsch, 1997; Krasner, 1999; Omaggio, 2001), though the integration of culture into foreign language learning has been inconsistent. Linguistic competence alone is not enough for learners to be competent in that language, and language learners need to be aware of the culturally appropriate ways to address people, express gratitude, make requests, and agree or disagree with someone. Language must be used with other culturally appropriate behavior to be successful. Despite the critical relationship between language and culture in effective foreign language instruction, postsecondary foreign language education lacks benchmarks, best practices or empirical standards for cultural integration. This forces college instructors of foreign language without guidance about how and when to integrate culture into their instruction. This descriptive case study examines the ways in which culture is integrated into a Basic Russian language university course. Through direct classroom observation, interviews with the instructor and a review of the textbook, the researcher examined the integration of big “C” culture and little “c” culture into foreign language instruction. The observations affirmed the general assertion that cultural infusion in college-level language instruction is limited and often delivered only as incidental additions to grammar and mechanics. Further, it was noted that instructors lack guidance about how to effectively integrate culture into their teaching, and this was further affirmed through a review of the class textbook. The study concludes with recommendations for further study into effective practices for cultural infusion into foreign language instruction and recommendations for improving foreign language teaching through the integration of culture.