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Numer: 21444
Dział: Języki obce

Why to teach culture?

1. Cultural content in the National Curriculum
According to the National Curriculum a foreign language has a special position among other subjects at a primary school. It is not only a taught subject but a tool used for teaching as well. The language understood as a system, conveys a certain amount of knowledge itself. While acquiring the knowledge and gaining the abilities, the language itself is becoming a means of obtaining new information from different fields of knowledge. In the light of being interdisciplinary, it has a great impact on versatile development of students’ personality, on their intellectual, emotional and social development.
One of the priorities in teaching a foreign language in primary schools (the second stage of education) is acquiring the proper level of communication skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) by students that are to enable them to deal successfully in different social situations. Learners are supposed to communicate successfully not only with native speakers of English but other users of English as well.
The main goals of teaching English are listed In the National Curriculum . The authors claim that learning English should be used by students in order to develop their emotional and intellectual personalities and obtain the knowledge concerning cultural aspects of English-speaking countries. “Students should be acquainted with the culture of English-speaking countries so that they could be aware of the important issues of the contemporary world” (translation mine: 7). The culture content should be adjusted to the students age. They also stress that the learners are obliged to take notice of the fact, that English plays a very important role as a means of intercultural and international communication. The students are supposed to develop the critical approach to the fact what they are like, what their opinions are like. They have a very opportunity to compare their attitudes towards different cultures and to other students.
Teaching English in all the stages of education is also connected with upbringing aims, such as instilling and strengthening in the students the proper attitudes towards people of different nationalities. While learning English they have the opportunity not only to be acquainted with new vocabulary and grammar rules. Reading and listening authentic, or adapted but based on authentic materials pieces of texts and listenings the students are learning about cultural and social realities of other countries, especially the English-speaking countries. This is, according to the authors of the National Curriculum, a proper way to teach them how to be tolerant, how to accept cultural differences, overcome national stereotypes and racial prejudice and in this way how to prevent world conflicts.

2. Why are languages and culture inseparably connected?
It is said very often that a language conveys cultural content or it enables the society speaking the language access to culture. Language is a key to culture comprehension. An American anthropologist Boas (1940) claimed that there was a very close connection between a language and a thought. According to him, the language itself could have not affect the development of thinking if the general state of culture had not enabled it. Thus, the language is shaped by the state of the given culture. It means that it is the culture that creates the variety of language ideas, types of terminology or generates the wider range of ways of communication between people, generally speaking it affects social communication (Banach, 2000:3).
Another American anthropologist, Sapir in his work Language (1970) also stresses the fact that a language and culture are closely related and it is impossible to learn a language without a culture. A language cannot exist in isolation form culture and it is the language that expresses the culture. His beliefs were supported by another American anthropologist Whorf (2002). They both claim that cultural pattern, customs, different life styles are expressed by means of the language. Isolation the language from culture may result in creating an artificial language such as Esperanto. Using Esperanto is hard to fully express your feelings and thoughts because it is built on the basis of the concepts and ideas that are not related to a given culture. That is why, Esperanto is schematic and deprived of any cultural roots.
The reciprocal relationships between a language and culture were noticed by an American psychologist Osgood (1990). According to him, a complete meaning of the word for a person is a result of an experience while using the word in the cultural environment in which the person was raised. That is why, it is difficult to find the equivalents of words or expressions in both languages. The words may have the same meaning but simultaneously they may evoke totally different emotional associations (Rivers, 1968).
The idea of the reciprocal relationships between a language and culture can also be noticed in anthropological structuralism by Levi-Strauss. He believes that a language determines existence of culture. He tried to discover common rules for both the language and the culture. Finally, he came to the conclusion that both concepts are based on certain logical associations, mainly on the rule of opposition and correlation (Olszewska-Dyoniziak 1994:42).

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