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The aim of this chapter is to look at textual studies of the relationship between culture and language in the second language (L2) teaching. Several anthropologists and ethnographers explored the word culture using various meanings. Overall, culture refers to a collective group of beliefs, traditions, and standards adopted by a particular society (Kang, 2012). It is a concept that describes how people work and communicate with one another. The readiness and ease with which a subject learns a foreign language are influenced by culture. Language is an essential component of the culture. It is used as a means of transmitting the beliefs that are observed in a particular cultural community. Thus, language and culture are closely interlinked. Like culture, language influences the willingness and ability of a given party to integrate English as their second language. Therefore, both the native language and culture may influence the outcomes of the L2 teaching efforts. Language also determines how people teach a foreign language. In light of globalization and increased intercultural interaction, particular languages have become essential as a necessary means of communication. This literature review focuses on the cultural implications on the L2 teaching and learning programss determined by Kramsch.


There are various definitions of culture. Most definitions date back to the 20th and 21st centuries (Byram and Grybkova, 2003). The earliest definitions concentrate on behavioral, concrete and visible aspects rather than the abstract and intangible aspects. The definitions of culture mostly explore the patterns of behavior and human actions passed on from one generation to another through biological and environmental factors. Essentially, one’s behavior is a direct consequence of cultural influences. The late 1990’s saw the incorporation of abstractness and intangibility into the definition of culture. Initially, culture was mainly defined along the metrics of the subject community. However, after the change, culture became the shared and learned patterns present in our everyday lives. The concept of culture contains the symbolic, ideational and intangible aspects of human societies. Its essence touches more than artifacts, tools and other tangible elements that are capable of presenting how a community interprets and uses them. It also includes values, symbols, interpretations and perspectives, which are capable of differentiating a group of people from another (Kinginger, 1998). The meaning of this term underwent modification and became combined with learned patterns to become an integrated pattern of human behavior. The revised definition included a group’s values, beliefs, customs, practices, rituals, language and it's racial, ethnic or religious inclinations. It further detailed the expected behavior of the subject individuals the possibility of the transmission of all the elements to the next generation (Kang, 2012).

According to Kramsch (1998), the current role of culture in language teaching derives its influence from educational, political and ideological facts. It is necessary to ensure that the language learning process is streamlined culturally to ensure quick integration. The promotion of diversity can only be achieved if language is made to reflect the cultural values of the given community. For some teachers, supplementing traditional acquisition of communication skills with humanistically oriented, intellectually legitimate cultural content can be a solution to solving the need to teach L2. This means that people learning a foreign language will also need to assimilate the culture of the foreign language to fully understand the communication in that particular language.

Kramsch (1998) thus agrees that the term “culture” has a correlation with the term “social”. Therefore, for anyone to participate in social life, he or she should be able to communicate with other individuals in the community. According to Kang (2012) the learner is usually prepared to engage in cross-cultural social groups and communities. However, not knowing an adequate amount of the foreign language will prevent them from interacting or communicating. They will thus fail to achieve their objective of language learning. One of the central issues in learning and teaching language, as Kramsch advises, is the expansion in the field of learning to provide a general application in the definition of the goals of teaching and learning language. According to Kramsch (1998), culture plays a vital role in language learning. Proper

culture acquisition will enable the individual to use a range of social and expressive actions instead of only learning vocabulary items, syntactic and paradigms, Cultural concepts will thus be paramount as far as foreign language teaching is concerned.

There are various ways of defining culture based on tangible and behavioral aspects or theoretical aspects. When focusing on the concrete definition, culture can be defined as behavioral patterns and actions passed down from one generation to another (Parsons, 1949). Useem et al. (1963) add that culture is the emerging behavior of a community of interacting human beings. In addition, Damen (1987) defined the theoretical aspect of culture as patterns and models that represent the daily living of human beings. Benanhia (2015) contends that culture comprises symbolic, intangible and ideational aspects of the human society. These elements in themselves do not define culture but rather how a group perceives, interprets and uses social interactions. In any case, people within a particular culture are likely to have similar interpretations of the elements of their culture. Consequently, culture presents itself in a context which consists of members who share similar standards of behavior and a given set of values (Kramsch, 1998). Therefore, it is only through a culture that an individual can know and believe whether their actions are acceptable in the society. The attainment of certainty is through social interactions and learned behaviors.

Because culture is complex and dynamic, there is no simple way of defining it. However, through a classification of understandable themes, we can focus on particular aspects to create a definition. One of the themes is the significance of human interaction in culture. Interaction comprises an integral part of human life. Socialization is a direct consequence of interaction between different individuals in the society. Nonetheless, interaction cannot be achieved without language. Still, even after learning a given language, it is necessary for the subject individual to understand the culture that is alluded to in the language. This initiative will empower them to have meaningful interactions. The process of learning culture involves symbolic integration, which comprises use of language and gestures (Kang, 2012). As such, language and culture are intricately interwoven. Language creates culture and provides the platform for human interaction, passed on for future generations.

Other Definitions of Culture

The definitions of culture are not limited to language learning and teaching. They come from many other fields and are relied upon by scholars in the field of language teaching. They can also involve other interdisciplinary definitions of culture that can come from different fields. Examples of related fields are such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, economy, linguistics and sociocultural viewpoints (Byram, Geof & Fleming, 2006).

Kramsch (1998) further determines that culture influences the amicability that existed between one individual and the other. Her definition is widely used in culture learning today as it shows how a person can come to know and believe in operating or performing actions that are acceptable to other members in than community. Kramsch’s definition was a basis that supported another definition that emerged in the early 21st Century. The definition is that culture is the acceptable form of interaction with a group that involves the way of life, customs, beliefs, social practices, and experiences.

Language and Culture

The relationship between language and culture is interactive because even though culture is transmitted through language, there is reflection of cultural patterns in language (Damen, 1987). Language is both a means of developing and spreading culture and interacting within the culture (Kang, 2012). In addition, Kramsch (1998) clarifies that in communication, language and culture interact in multiple and complex ways. Overall, there is a unique relationship between language and culture. The relationship is codependent. Language is a tool that contributes significantly to developing a culture of a group. It develops and transmits culture from one person to another or from one generation to the next. It is a communication tool whereby individuals in a group are capable of understanding each other and the situations present in their surroundings. Communication is not only a method of speaking and exchanging messages but also a mode of learning (Palfreyman, and Dawn, 2007).

According to Kramsch, language is a principle that assists in choosing the appropriate way in conducting the social activities in our lives. Her definition expands on the concept of codependence as language shapes culture and in turn, culture shapes language. Learning a language assists in learning the culture of the group that knows the language. An individual attains the insight of the group’s beliefs and values. Kramsch also states that language is a medium that expresses, embodies, and symbolizes cultural reality. Language teaching helps people to have different perspectives and attitudes towards the world, allows for sharing of experiences, and strengthens social identity.

Therefore, culture shapes the language within society while at the same time the society shapes language (Kang, 2012). The interaction between the two elements is equal and one cannot thrive without the other. Communication involves more than just the transmission of words but the process of learning, thinking and behaviorial patterns. . It is more than gaining knowledge about the language but also involves understanding the cultural contexts which define the language. The process of learning a new language calls for understanding the cultural significance of communication within certain contexts. According to Kramsch, learning a new language demands that the learner thinks differently from the way they socialize in their culture. In short, language reflects the beliefs and attitudes of the speakers towards the world and enables them to develop their social identities. As a result, this allows them to identify outsiders.

Culture consists of membership discourse among individuals with shared space, history and imaginings; society members develop a means of expressing these realities through language. Therefore, evaluation of language competence, is developed by analyzing how the speaker interacts within culture. This is evident in the expression of respect and common courtesy, which is different from culture to culture. Nevertheless, since culture is heterogeneous and ever dynamic, it is hard to identify a legitimate static pattern. This characteristic is challenging for intercultural communication, as it requires speakers to be patient and more deeply understand other cultures (Kang, 2012).

According to Samovar and Porter (1997), intercultural communication situations arise when “messages that must be understood and produced by a member of one culture for consumption by a member of one culture are consumed by a member of another culture.” (Samovar & Porter, 1997) This process requires adequate preparation because culture defines the individuals’ realities which may become barriers to effective communication. Although it is assumed that the purposes of learning a second language are for intercultural communication and hence the importance of learning culture, this approach towards he learning of a second language can be ineffective. Appropriate preparation of the target language and culture are in order to ensure there is effective communication.

Foreign Language (FL) or Second Language (SL) learning is composed of spoken and writtensymbols as well as visual images that facilitate learning language and culture. However, communication may be ineffective if learners and teachers describe their world using the target language. Studying culture from a language teaching perspective constitute the transmission of any information, knowledge, or attitude about the foreign culture, which are evident in foreign language teaching (Byram et al., 2003). Byram (2003) indicates that the teaching of the aspects of culture are conducted both consciously and incidentally. He states, “The educational value of cultural studies in language teaching and the secondary school curriculum as a whole is the first area of enquiry.” (Byram et al., 2003) Teaching and learning a foreign language should start with the understanding of culture.

Byram (1991), proposed the idea of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) as a primary focus in foreign language teaching (FLT) to improve the quality of language learning (Kang 51). One of the primary purpose of FLT is to allow learners to experience the other culture through language. The concept of ICC involves more than the exchange of information but rather it forms a basis for creating and sustaining relationships (Jafarzadeh and Simin, 2014). ICC further entails the assessment of intercultural competence, ways to promote intercultural dimension, identifies the materials needed to promote intercultural dimension, and methods an individual can implement to deal with stereotypes or misconceptions (Lazar & Cankova, 2007).

Culture in Language Learning and Teaching

The entire concept of culture in language learning and teaching dates back more than 70 years. Researchers have arrived at different definitions of culture, which have a basis in human social interaction. Social interaction depends on three factors one of which is culture; the other two are individual and social factors. In analyzing culture and its implications on the teaching processes, ten elements must be considered. These elements are interaction, association, subsistence, bi-sexuality, temporality, territoriality, learning, play, defence, and exploitation. These factors are the categories which make up culture (Liddicoat and Scarino, 2013).

the view that culture should be integrated into into the ESL curriculum has many opponents. Some of the arguments against the incorporation establish that this notion would discourage students from other native communities from participating in the learning process. It may also prove challenging to try to introduce a second culture to the students. However, Wang (2008) establishes that the nature of language is unique to every group and depends significantly on the beliefs, values and practices of its speakers. The foundations of this argument are based on the understanding that language cannot exist without culture. The basis of this argument is that the whole concept of language Another belief is that culture stimulates language learning by awakening interest and curiosity which in turn broadens the students’ intellectual horizons (Levinson and Mica, 2011).

Another argument presented by Byram et al. (2006), was that there was a high interdependence of culture and language as culture awareness contributes to language proficiency. The argument is based on the understanding that the presence of a difference in culture is proof that similarities among cultures exist, making translation possible and the whole idea of learning a new language not impossible. Essentially, the premises of this assertion reinforce the inseparability of language and culture (Palaiologou, 2012).

The detractors of the influence of culture on language in the teaching process establish it constitutes an irrelevant factor and may not necessarily have an impact on the overall learning. However, this assertion overlooks the fundamental structures of languages. Languages differ from one community to another and each language is intended to communicate the values of the people who adhere to it. Consequently, the detractors of the influence of culture on language in the teaching process encourage the use of standardized English to teach L2 students. Nonetheless this notion overlooks the cultural differences that exist between L2 learners. It would be inappropriate and unprofessional to ignore all or some of the aspects that influence the outcomes of the learning initiatives that are extended to students. Another argument predicates the extinction of culture as one of the reasons for the avoidance of exploration of culture in the L2 teaching process. Essentially, such ideologies are rooted in the supposition that when an individual learns a new language, he or she runs the risk of immersion in the new culture which may overwhelm his or her original culture. Principally, it reshapes their patterns of thought, emotions and behavior therefore forfeiting the original culture (Bruen & Sudhershan, 2009).

Byram (1989), states that learning a foreign language is not mastering any academic topic but rather learning a new form of communication, which is equivalent to a new culture. He emphasizes that it is hard to separate learning language and learning culture. The whole aspect of cultural literacy comes mainly from language learning (Byram, Gribkova & Hugh, 2003). There is an advantage of incorporating culture into language learning. It makes the whole experience more meaningful, productive and versatile (Kinginger, 2009).

In order to fully grasp the influence of culture and language on the ;2 learning processes, there is need for the in-depth examination of cultural fators. To begin with, Interaction involves the aspects of communication, language, and interaction. Association looks at the different classes and roles of each person or group. Subsistence comprises different community groupings based on occupation or division of labor. Bisexuality pertains to the concepts of sexuality, marriage, and family. Territoriality is the informal and formal space boundaries in individual and class within the community. Temporality refers to cyclical activities. Learning has different dimensions such as where to learn, what and who to teach, and rewards for learning (Jiménez, 2001). Play constitutes the various recreational activities each person in a group engages with. Defence spans the protection of what is valuable in the community. Exploitation involves the different resources a group has access to and can use to enhance their wellbeing (Pachler and Redondo, 2014).

Overtime, the definition of culture evolved to include myriad elements in the society which fell into specific categories. The expended categories include subculture, technology, economy, social and political organizations and worldviews. All these aspects converge to give an individual their identity. It is therefore of utmost importance to ensure that the teacher draws attention to all of these elements in the process of teaching the L2 students. Their familiarity to the objects will inspire the student’s curiosity to learn the basics of the English language. After time many of the definitions of culture includes in their essences symbolism, value, authority, order, ceremony, love, honor, beauty and spirit (Liddicoat and Scarino, 2013).

From the historical exploration of the elements and definitions of culture, cultural components can be divided into different categories They include the descriptive information of the region where the language is spoken, the information about social structures and institutions present in the area, observable phenomena, cognitive patterns, learning culture, attitude and identity.

Descriptive information involves the geographical details of the country such as topology and vegetation. It also deals with demography, history and artistic monuments. Social structures comprise of the political and economic state of the region, education, social and intellectual organization. Examples of observable phenomena are food, dressing, housing, transportation, recreation and behavioral practices. Cognitive patterns involve value orientation, language, norms, values and health. Attitude and identity entail stereotypes, cultural identity, and cross-cultural environment. Learning culture looks at cultural adjustment, positive attitude, strategies for learning culture, personality and balance between culture at home and culture abroad.

With the understanding of the immense role of descriptive information attained from the exploration of culture, the teacher is enabled to develop objectives that will allow any individual to become culturally competent. These objectives include such things as reacting appropriately in social situations, recognizing behavioral patterns when illustrated, explaining patterns, being able to apply patterns in particular situations and manifesting an attitude that allows an individual to be accepted in a different society. The objectives also enable the creation of instructional goals implemented in cultural teaching. The goals of these objectives teach students to develop the skills that will enable them to functionally demonstrate a culturally conditioned behavior. Students also should understand the interaction of language and social variables such as age, sex, and social class through constant interactions. They should have the ability to analyze the conventional behavior present in everyday situations within the culture of the language they are learning. Students should be aware of cultural connotations of words and phrases. They should have the capacity to evaluate statements made in and about a certain culture. Students should develop skills that allow them to research another culture and become capable of demonstrating a positive attitude towards that culture (Quinn, 1986).

Communicative Approach in Teaching Culture in English Language Classroom

The communicative approach is founded on the need forthe interaction in the teaching of the English language as a second language. The communicative approach is also known as communicative language teaching. It encourages the interaction of students in language learning to enhance their grasp and mastery of English (Jimenez, 2001). For instance, an L2 teacher may decide to ask the students to engage in a question and answer session in pairs aimed at determining their respective profiles. Such sessions are intended to develop meaningful communication capabilities among the students. The communicative approach arose in the 19th century. It was a culmination of the enhanced solicitation of language learning in the aftermath of World War II. After the establishment of the European Union, migration saw an increase in Europe. People in search of better wages and working opportunities moved to European countries and this significantly increased the pressure on the language educators to engage a responsive and efficient teaching method.

The communicative approach has several advantages over the traditional teaching methods of the L2 language. For instance, it encourages communication according to one’s ability. According to Anderson (1993), this is important since it promotes the authenticity of the language as spoken by the students and furthers the meaningfulness of the interactions that the students undertake. The communicative benefit presupposes that constant interaction will allow the students to gain confidence, so as to enable them to foster their language abilities. Thus the communicative approach ensures that the students practice their skills within the classroom setting. Similarly, the communicative approach ensures that the slight errors in the communication process are identified and rectified promptly to prevent the recurrence of the same in the future interactions (Pachler & Redondo, 2014). The communicative approach ensures that the teacher addresses the language errors that are projected by the student. The other benefit of the communicative language in teaching L2 students includes the possibility of motivating the student. Essentially, the complexity of the different interactions between the students provides a platform through which the teacher can identify the strength of the student and streamline the errors to enhance the effectiveness of their language integration (Palfreyman et al., 2007). The communicative approach should be structured so that the students will be made to sit in small groups and interact before disseminating what they have prepared to the entire class. This activity builds the confidence of the students. Overall, the communicative approach plays an immense role in developing learning.

Lingua Franca in Teaching English as a Second Language

Teaching English as Lingua Franca can go a long way to improving a student’s comprehension of the basics of the English language. It entails compelling the students to engage a common language in the interaction processes regardless of the differences in their cultural and language background. Contrary to the other approaches engaged in teaching L2 students, Lingua Franca is not only limited to the exploration of the function of language, but also its form Lingua Franca has two major definitions (McKay, 2003). The first definition alludes to the employment of a language that is not the first language of the student. Alternatively, it can be defined as a purpose of use which mainly reflects the interactions between two individuals in a language that is not the first language of either speakers. Lingua Franca can be incorporated variably in the L2 learning practice.

Firstly, the teacher can make it his priority to use mainstream native variety of the English language that is popularly used by the students (Liddicoat et al., 2013). These include the American or British varieties of the English language. On the other hand, the development of a comprehensive and unified curriculum aligned to the metrics of non-native language usages can succinctly address the need for the integration of the English language. Otherwise, if the American and British varieties of the English language prove to be ineffective, the teacher may take it upon themselves to combine different models of the English language to communicate the basics of the English learning initiative (McKay, 2003). This entails employing a multiplicity of English language to suit the cultural diversity of the L2 learners. This method negates the use of standardized metrics in teaching L2 students. The method promotes diversity by avoiding the monolithic form of the English language. Lastly, it is also possible to employ the universal standardized variety of the English language. However, it negates the concept of diversity and may impede the learning initiatives of many L2 students who did not have initial contact with English.

Teaching Culture to English Language Learners

The essence of culture in L2 teaching cannot be overstated. Language comprises a carrier of a given culture (Samovar & Porter, 1997). Similarly, English is a medium through which the English culture is disseminated. Language and culture are intrinsically enmeshed and cannot be separated. Therefore, in teaching L2 students the English language, it is a plausible advancement that the language carries the English culture. When ESL students integrate the basics of the English language, they should be made to further integrate essences of the English culture. According to Wang (2008), foreign language teaching is “foreign culture teaching”. Therefore, the teacher ought to determine ways by which they can disseminate the foreign culture by integrating it into the language.

Initially, the teacher should make it their priority to avoid a language that assumes cultural imperialism. All cultures are the same as there is no inferior or superior culture and the student should be made to understand that the English culture is not intended to impede their own cultures (Choudhury, 2014). Rather than imposing meanings on the learners, it is important that the teacher allows their students to make their own inferences from the interaction engagements. It is also necessary that the teachers emphasize on the need for the student to completely understand their own culture. This initiative entails the promotion of the student’s awareness to the given culture. They should be able to recognize the immensity and significance of their culture before being made to integrate a foreign culture. Lastly, it is imperative that the teachers consider the cultural background of their learners when determining the pedagogical approaches to be applied to the teaching context.


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