For teachers

Learning a second language and learning the cultural context of the second language

  • cultural stereotypes
  • attitudes
  • learning a second culture
  • sociopolitical considerations
  • language, thought, and culture

Stereotype - oversimplified, exaggerated view


  • rich
  • informal
  • materialistic
  • drink coffee


  • passionate
  • demonstrative
  • great lovers
  • drink red wine


  • reserved
  • unemotional
  • take a lot of pictures
  • drink tea


  • stubborn
  • industrious
  • methodical
  • drink beer


  • stuffy
  • polite
  • thrifty
  • drink tea

What makes one culture different from another

  • world views
  • concepts of time and space
  • collectivism
  • power distance
  • uncertainty avoidance
  • gender role prescriptions


  • Positive attitude
    • a desire to understand
    • A desire to empathize
    • Results in integrative orientation to learn
  • Forming negative influence:
    • extreme ethnocentric thinking
    • parents' and peers' attitude
    • misinformed stereotyping
    • insufficient knowledge

Second language acquisition

  • Culture learning- a process of creating shared meaning between cultural representatives
  • Acculturation – a creation of a new identity - becoming oriented to a new culture, a reorientation of thinking and feeling and communication
  • Culture shock - estrangement,anger, hostility,indecision,sadness, lhomesickness
  • Stages of culture acquisition

Stage 1 - excitement and euphoria

Stage 2 - feeling of the intrusion

Stage 3 - gradual recovery

Stage 4 – acceptance of the new culture and self-confidence in the "new" person that has developed in this culture

Social distance - cognitive and affective proximity of two cultures that come into contact (Schumann)

  • Dominance
    • political
    • cultural
    • technical
    • economical
  • Integration
    • assimilation
    • acculturation
    • preservation
    • enclosure
    • separate identity
  • Cohesiveness
    • size of the L2 group
  • Congruence
    • similarity in thevalue and belief systems
    • attitudes of the two groups toward each other
  • Permanence
    • intended length of residence in the target language area

Optimal distance model of SLA –a person who fails to master a second language in a second culture may for a host of reasons have failed to synchronize linguistic and cultural development

Learning a culture in the classroom

  • inhibiting effect
    • psychological blocks
    • feelling alienation in the process of learning a second language
  • ways of solving the problem
    • sensitivity to the fragility of students
    • role-play - promoting the process of cross-cultural dialogue
    • readings, films, simulation games, culture assimilators

Conceptual categories (Geert Hofstede)

  • Power distance - the extent to which the less powerful persons in a society accept inequality in power and consider it as normal
  • Individualism – an assumption that any person looks primarily after his/her own interest
  • Cany person belongs to one "in-groups," from which he/she cannot detach him/herself
  • Uncertainty avoidance -the extent to which people within a culture are made nervous by situations they perceive as unstructured, unclear, or unpredictable
  • Masculinity values stress material success and assertiveness
  • Feminity values interpersonal relationships, and concern for the weak

Policies affecting the status of its native language(s) and one or more foreign languages

  • implicit, "unofficial
  • explicit, "official"
  • English as lingua franca – does it threat to form an elitist cultural hegemony
  • World Englishes
    • "nativization"
    • "indigenization
  • ESL vs EFL

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis - The background linguistic system (in other words, the grammar) of each language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for the individual's mental activity, for his analysis of impressions, for his synthesis of his mental stock in trade