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Culture, Psychology, and Language Learning


Michael Hager

This book demonstrates that culture and language are closely intertwined and argues that they need to be taught simultaneously from the very beginning of acquiring a second language. In the first part of the book, the author explores the close links between language and culture through looking at concepts such as ethnosyntax and gendered language. The discussion continues by examining the relationship of biculturalism and bilingualism, and the effects each can have on the other. This leads into an exploration of interculturalism and the idea of a third culture or interculture. The second half of the book demonstrates how culture and language are linked to cognition by looking at cognitive processing, emotions, and motivation in second language acquisition. This discussion illuminates some of the ways in which culture can influence the learning of a second language, and also provides fascinating insights into how culture and language affect memory and its role in the learning process.


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PART ONE - Culture and Language Learning -1


Part One Culture and Language Learning Chapter One Culture Throughout this book we will be concerned with culture, psychology, and language acquisition. We will see how closely knit culture and language are and that they need to be taught/learned simultaneously. We will first take a closer look at what culture and language are (Part One) and then delve into some of the aspects that af fect both of them (Part Two). But first we need to define what culture is and see how cultural psychologists perceive culture. Culture is the human-made part of the environment (Herskovits, 1948). It can be viewed as part of the human phenotype, the distinctive design that enables us to survive, prosper, and reproduce. Culture emerges from our lifestyle, and it occurs as individuals pool and accumulate their discoveries, and institute customs and traditions to organize their labors and settle their conf licts (Pinker, 2002, p. 60). Markus and Hamedani (2007) define culture “as patterns of repre- sentations, actions, and artifacts that are distributed or spread by social interaction” (p. 11). Culture should not be a study of collections of people such as the Japanese, the Americans, the Germans, but it should be a study of how psychological processes may be formed explicitly and implicitly through the context, the cultural systems, and the worlds in which indi- viduals live and thrive. Therefore, the focal point should be on the explicit and implicit patterns of practices, meanings, and artifacts found through- out the environments in which persons...

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