Friday, May 9, 2014

Language, Culture, and Self

I enjoyed reading Marchenkova’s chapter on language, culture, and self, which helped me to rethink the relationship among them and how they influence each other and the applied meaning in foreign language instruction.

Language, culture, and self are inter-related as a whole and dialogues are socially constructed, dynamic, and situated in specific contexts. For example, holidays are an essential part of a culture. When teaching preschoolers about Valentine’s Day, we discussed whom we love during the circle time. Then, children can write notes and cards to friends and parents. Even English language learners can get a chance to express themselves by using the target language in such a meaningful context. In this way, they can form positive relationships with peers and get involved in the classroom community.

Here is another story about language and culture, which I want to share. When I first came here, I heard an American mother called her son over the phone. After the call, she said “I love you!” I was kind of shocked, because it is not very common in Asian culture.  I watched the video clip on youtube called Asian Parents and the Awkward "I Love You" I think it is true that in most cases Asian parents do not say “I love you” as much as American parents, which does not mean that they do not like their children. It is actually influenced by the high-context Asian communication style. They cook for the family and pay the tuition for the children. They do lots of things for the children. They just do not say these tree words. They might think we have already know they love us so they do not need to say it explicitly. When American parents send children to school, they give their children hugs and kisses and say, “Love you and have fun!” On the contrary, Asian parents might help children put on the bagpack and say, “Behave well and study hard!” The same context, they dialogues are very different. I am sure the parents from both cultures both love their children. However, just the ways they express themselves are different.

I like her statement on page. 174, “the purpose of teaching second and foreign language us to make communication among people and cultures possible.” As language teachers, we should think about this goal in our lesson planning. To be specific, we should not only introduce the language items in the language, but also to introduce the culture of it. In addition, we should always try our best to give students authentic input and give them opportunities to communicate with people from the target culture.

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