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The Cultural Context in Foreign Language Teaching

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Edited By Martin Pütz

The present book is a collection of selected papers held at the 23rd International LAUD Symposium on «The Cultural Context in Communication Across Languages» (26-31 March 1997) in Duisburg, Germany. The papers included in this volume highlight several aspects pertaining to the cultural dimension of foreign language teaching and learning. The topics covered range from theoretical accounts on text, language, and culture through to empirically-based aspects of non-native discourse as well as sociolinguistic and cultural awareness in foreign language teaching. Finally, the volume brings together contributions from a wide variety of languages and cultural settings.
The Cultural Context in Foreign Language Teaching will interest students of educational linguistics and language pedagogy, intercultural communication and discourse analysis.

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Section 3: Raising sociolinguistic and cultural awareness in FLT 111

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Section 3: Raising sociolinguistic and cultural awareness inFLT This page intentionally left blank Cultural competence and FL comprehension Colin Simpson 0. Introduction This paper will begin by considering some genuine examples of comprehension errors based on a FL text in Spanish dealing with the Hispanic world. I will argue that while the errors demonstrate a degree of deficiency in language competence, the most striking aspect for a Spanish speaker is what they reveal about the learner's level of cultural ignorance. On this basis I will argue that there is clearly a need for cultural content to be included within any FL course for two reasons. Firstly because it is expected and secondly because it is an essential component in the comprehension of FL texts. I will then discuss several approaches to the teaching of culture in FL classes, varying from radical ideas of replacing traditional language classes altogether with sessions in Social Anthropology to more moderate ideas of delivering cul- tural information through L 1 or by the use of carefully selected (or modified) texts in the target language. In the final part of the paper I aim to consider the implications of including cultural content for syllabus design and assessment strategies. Much fine poten- tial teaching and/or assessment material is rejected on the basis that a student's cultural knowledge would "overcompensate" for language deficiency. I will ar- gue that cultural knowledge is an essential component for comprehension of a wide range of authentic text situations and that teaching and...

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