The cultural aspects of a society obviously have a bearing on the language its people speak. As teachers, we can't separate the language we teach from the cultural references that are associated with it. The vast majority of English teachers in the world are not actually natives of an English-speaking country, and however much they know about the purely linguistic aspects, for instance, grammar - and they may know far more than native speakers and even native English teachers themselves - they may lack the necessary cultural references.
Likewise, an anglophile is probably more likely to be a highly motivated student than an anglophobe, and sometimes the tasks of a teacher may include "converting" someone who might otherwise, for whatever reasons, be averse or even hostile to learning, or having to learn, English.
In his article "Culture - the fifth language skill", Barry Tomalin argues that, alongside the traditional language skills, language students must also be aware of the cultural aspects of the societies in which a language is used.
Tomalin refers to fours aspects to be considered:
- cultural knowledge, that is, the formal knowledge of the institutions, etc. Tomalin and Stempleski refer to this aspect as "the Big C";
- cultural values, i.e. the ‘psyche’ of the country, what people living there think is important, such as family, hospitality, patriotism, fairness, etc.;
- cultural behaviour, referred to by Tomalin and Stempleski as "the little c", is the knowledge of daily routines and behaviour;
- cultural skills, or the "development of intercultural sensitivity and awareness, using the English language as the medium of interaction".
- Advice for new teachers
- Communicative language teaching
- Cross-cultural differences
- Culture shock
- Non-verbal communication
- Tomalin, B and Stempleski, Cultural Awareness (1995)