Ethnocentric Attitudes Towards English

1179 Words5 Pages
Name: Ahmed Ouaben
Group: TESOL

Teaching cultural skills is considered to be an essential part of language teaching. It is even counted as a fifth skill in addition to listening, speaking, reading and writing. The relation between culture and language came to surface since the mid 1980s. In 1999, Krasen recognized the necessity for language learners to develop not only the linguistic competence but also an awareness of what is culturally appropriate in the target language. Some people argue that teaching British and American culture in ELT classrooms threatens the local culture and reinforces cultural hegemony.
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If the learners have negative attitudes towards English or towards its native speakers, they will not be motivated to learn it. The studies conducted on undergraduate students of English at the Universidad Popular Aut?noma del Estado de Puebla and the Universidad Nacional Aut?noma de M?xico show that the majority of students have negative attitudes towards English. Those attitudes are related to economic and political conflicts between US and Mexico. The American intervention in other countries and its attitudes towards immigrant workers from Mexico are some of the reasons lying behind those negative attitudes. Gardner and Lambert (1972) think that a foreign language, be it English or French, cannot be acquired if students hold ethnocentric views and hostile attitudes towards the speakers of the target language. By ?ethnocentric views?, he meant the use of the norms of one?s culture to judge the behavior of people from other…show more content…
In general, language is considered a means that facilitates communication between different cultures, civilizations and individuals. Most of the time, learning how to communicate effectively using the target language comes from listening or watching native speakers talk, interact and behave. This observation can be either direct or indirect. The direct observation involves face to face communication while the indirect one takes the form of watching American or British movies and TV shows or listening to English songs. The more the student is exposed to cultural input, the fluent speaker he becomes and the effective communicator he will be. Nelson Mandela once said: ?If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.? The language here is not limited to the linguistic competence, but it includes also what is appropriate and what is not in the culture of the language when it comes to communication. Therefore, learning the etiquettes and customs that characterize communicative situations in the culture of language is a must. The reason is because it will save the student from the conflicts, embarrassment, and misunderstanding that might be caused by ineffective communication with a native speaker of English. For example, while
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