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Second Culture Teaching and Learning

An Introduction

Thomas Szende

This monograph offers an incisive analysis of how the second language learner can achieve cultural proficiency, which is more than a set of rules and facts to be memorized by rote. How can the cultural dimension be taken into account, among the many choices of instructional material and language assessment tools? Is it possible to distinguish levels of cultural competence? How can the degree of cultural proximity between the source language and the target language influence the acquisition process? What strategies should be implemented in order to decode any cultural pitfalls? This handy guide addresses these and many other frequently asked questions underpinning language teaching methodology.
Illustrated with a broad range of classroom-based examples, this book presents language as inextricably intertwined with social relations. The variety of languages involved (Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Hungarian, French and English) makes the volume especially attractive for language educators seeking effective teaching strategies in specific local contexts around the globe.
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Our book has above all strived to contribute to the furthering of reflection addressing the learning of languages and cultures. We hope that the reader has found relevant support points with respect to his teaching practice for the widest variety of institutional, linguistic and cultural spaces.

Whether these points are addressing future non-native L2 teachers or those who are preparing to teach their own language, the language teaching methodology generally inherent in a humanities or linguistics curriculum proposes outlines aiming to facilitate the observation, planning and actual running of classes with regard to the areas of description that are usually summoned in language learning: phonetics, grammar, lexicon, etc.

The evoking of stakes as regards the cultural dimension of language is just as essential in pedagogical training programs. Class moments to anticipate and organize also include sessions on representations and conventions (which are all the more difficult as they do not appear in writing anywhere), as well as the cultural incidents that lack of respect for them can generate: “Speech acts are realized from culture to culture in different ways and … these different ways may result in communication difficulties that range from the humorous to the serious” (Gass, 1995: 1).

The stakes are high: questioning the construction and the transmission of L2 teaching / learning content also means a) observing one’s own cultural environment and the manner in which it is conveyed through one’s L1, including all degrees of the implicit, and b)...

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