PROMOTING THE ACQUISITION OF INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE IN ENGLISH THROUGH POP CULTURE
Keywords:culture, language skills, teaching, textbooks, pop culture
AbstractLanguage and cultural abilities are at the forefront of our ever-shrinking world. Foreign language learning is composed of several components, or the defined â€œfour language skillsâ€, including grammatical competence, communicative competence, language proficiency, as well as a change in attitudes towards oneâ€™s own or another culture. For scholars and laymen alike, cultural competence, i.e., the knowledge of the conventions, customs, beliefs, and systems of meaning of another country, is indisputably an integral part of foreign language learning, and many teachers have seen it as their goal to incorporate the teaching of culture into the foreign language curriculum. (Byram, Morgan et al., 1994: 4) One of the misconceptions that have permeated through foreign language teaching is the conviction that language is merely a code and, once masteredâ€”mainly by dint of steeping oneself into grammatical rules and some aspects of the social context in which it is embeddedâ€”â€˜one language is essentially (albeit not easily) translatable into anotherâ€™ (Kramsch, 1993: 1). Culture in language learning is not an expendable fifth skill â€œtacked onâ€ to the teaching of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. It is always in the background, right from the beginning, ready to unsettle the good language learners when they expect it least, making evident the limitations of their hard-won communicative competence, challenging their ability to make sense of the world around them. (Kramsch, 1993: 1) It has so far become evident that the role of teaching culture in a foreign language setting/classroom has been a concern to teachers, curriculum designers and both scholars and publishers. Two main perspectives can be said to have been developing on the issue of teaching culture: transmission of the factual, cultural information, mainly consisting of statistical information, i.e. data about the target civilization, like literature, arts, habits, customs, history and everyday life. The other perspective is the embedded culture in an interpretive framework, which is drawing connections between oneâ€™s culture and the target culture. The aim of this research is to show how culture is being integrated into the teaching curricula for students in elementary schools in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. The studentsâ€™ books in question â€œDream Teamâ€ serve as a point for research and an example where elements of culture, in this case pop culture, are being used for language learning. The finding will serve as a basis for improvement of the teaching curricula with the sole purpose of getting better results with students.
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