Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Investigating the Effect of Teaching Culture through Movies on Efl Learners' Wtc (Willingness to Communicate)

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Investigating the Effect of Teaching Culture through Movies on Efl Learners' Wtc (Willingness to Communicate)

Article excerpt

1.Background

It is commonly accepted that language is a part of culture, and that it plays a very important role in it. Some social scientists consider that without language, culture would not be possible. Language simultaneously reflects culture, and is influenced and shaped by it, Kramsch(2005). In the broadest sense, it is also the symbolic representation of a people, since it comprises their historical and cultural backgrounds, as well as their approach to life and their ways of living and thinking.

Culture and language are inseparable. Politzer, (as cited in Brooks, 1986) shows this interrelationship by the following words:

"As language teachers we must be interested in the study of culture not because we necessarily want to teach the culture of the other country, but because we have to teach it. If we teach language without teaching at the same time the culture in which it operates, we are teaching meaningless symbols or symbols to which the student attaches the wrong meaning; for unless he is warned, unless he receives cultural instruction, he will associate American concepts or objects with the foreign symbols". (p. 85-86)

Concurrent with that, Brown (1994) emphasizes "... a language is a part of culture and a culture is a part of a language. The two are intricately interwoven so that one cannot separate the two without losing the significance of either language or culture" (p. 164).

In a more detailed way, Buttjes (1990), by referring to some ethnographic language studies, summarizes several reasons why language and culture are from the start inseparably connected, i.e.: (1) language acquisition does not follow a universal sequence, but differs across cultures; (2) the process of becoming a competent member of society is realized through exchanges of language in particular social situations; (3) every society orchestrates the ways in which children participate in particular situations, and this, in turn, affects the form, the function, and the content of children's utterances; (4) caregivers' primary concern is not with grammatical input, but with the transmission of sociocultural knowledge; and (5) the native learner, in addition to language, acquires also the paralinguistic patterns and the kinesics of his or her culture (p. 55).

Brown (1994) describes the two as follows: 'A language is a part of a culture and a culture is a part of a language; the two are intricately interwoven so that one cannot separate the two without losing the significance of either language or culture.'(p,165) In a word, culture and language are inseparable. When learners decide to learn a second language they may also be interested in learning about the target culture, it seems clear that studying second language means trying to study and learn about the nature and culture of people to know them better. Some scholars like Sapir (1962) and Whorf (1956) use the term " Linguistic Relativity" by which they believe, a. everything which we perceive in the world is based on categories and differences found in our native language, b. What is found in a language may not be found in other languages and it is because of variety in cultures.

Because of the central role that culture plays in learning a language, by mid 80s little by little culture changed to a special part to teach to learners and most scholars and linguists such as Kramsch(2005) started that teaching language is not possible without teaching culture. The classical languages, Latin and Greek, were studied so that learners could read and translate the works of literature in these languages. This principle was also acknowledged by the Grammar-Translation Method, which saw the main rationale for learning in getting access to the so- called" great work" Kramsch(1996), see also. Larsen Freeman (2000)

Kito(2000) mentioned different benefits for teaching culture:

1. Studying culture gives this perspective to student to study L2 in meaningful ways. …

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