By: Hayat Belmandili || English Language Teacher Trainee in Oujda
During one of my classes at the teachers training center CRMEF in Oujda, there was an interesting discussion about what makes learners of the English language more serious than others. According to our trainer, the reason could be the English culture itself. As a future teacher of English, I was attracted by the fact that language and culture are interrelated when it comes to learning. In this regard, I was wondering whether language is learned isolated from its culture or not. Besides, I was questioning if the cultural aspect is simultaneously studied with the verbal aspect.
Assuredly, language is just one element that is stemmed from a culture. Thus, language stands as a factor that conveys the culture. Therefore, through teaching a language we transmit its nonverbal communication. In this respect, an effective teacher makes students conscious of their learning. He also should be aware of what to adopt and what to spurn in order to acquire the skill of eclecticism. As a matter of fact, the existence of different cultures is natural. Thus, getting acquainted with other cultures does not mean necessarily neglecting one’s own culture or excluding other cultures. As far as students are concerned, I believe that policy makers and textbook designers should be aware enough and sensible when it comes to the inclusion of multi cultures in student books. Each culture should be equally taken into account. None of them should appear superior or inferior to other. Yet, the discrepancies do not mean excluding nonverbal aspects from the learning atmosphere.
More strongly, I see that the integration of culture strengthens learners’ interaction with the native speakers. Linguistic communication learned outside an authentic context is not ample. What about the cultural features? Where does a language operate in?
Through studying a foreign language, learners gain knowledge and understanding of the target culture. For example, bad news or good news should be authentically expressed within a certain context. Imitating nonverbal behaviors such as the use of facial expressions, eye contact and gestures needs a real learning environment. In fact, at least language ought to be expressed by its cultural traits. That is to say, as a teacher of English, I would better tackle the native manners to attain an ideal learning atmosphere. To implement this, varying the teaching tools is highly recommended: audio visual aids can be TV shows, films.
The objective behind defending the integration of culture in the process of learning a certain language is to enable students to use the language for real purposes, such as to communicate linguistically and culturally as well with a native speaker. In this respect, I may dare to say overcoming some kind of culture shock, simultaneity of culture and language learning helps learners to shorten the distance between the learner of the target language and the native user.