The general goal of this course is to introduce participants to the role of culture in the field of English Language Teaching. We will discuss how culture relates to teaching, but more generally we will examine how culture effects communication. The goal of language learning is, of course, the ability to develop communicate competence; that is, the ability to communicate fluently in the target language. Communicative competence can be simplified as:
   «Knowing how to say something (form)
   « Knowing what to say (meaning)
   « Knowing when to say it (use).
Knowing "how" and "what" is not enough. For example, the form "먹자" in Korean means "Let's eat;" however, I am an American. In America, one can say "Let's eat" to just about everyone. This is because we have strong cultural beliefs that are egalitarian in nature. However, if I apply my cultural beliefs to Korean, I will quickly find myself in trouble, because Korean culture has strong beliefs about showing proper respect to people who are older or in a higher social position.

To illustrate what I mean, imagine that I am at my daughter's first birthday party. I turn to 장모님 and say: "먹자." Will this make her happy? No, it won't! It will make her angry because I  spoke to her publicly in a way that didn't show appropriate respect. What I should have said was: "드세요," but I didn't say that because my understanding of what was culturally appropriate was different than hers. In other words we had different cultural expectations. Thus, different cultural expectations influence how language is used.

Although we will spend some time comparing Korean culture to Anglo-American culture like I did above, it is not the main purpose of the course. More importantly, you will be introduced to the idea of World Englishes; that is, the idea that English and the cultures that influences it are no longer solely owned and controlled by native speakers. There are approximately 1.8 billion to 2.4 billion speakers of English world wide depending on the source and the level of fluency considered, but of those billions of speakers only 400 million of them are native speakers of English. It is the culture of these other speakers of English that we are most concerned about, because it will be their cultures that will change the cultural expectations that surround the use of English.

In this age of globalization, English, for better or worse, has become the default international language. Consequently we need to understand how culture influences the language we use to communicate. Culture is both ubiquitous and hard to see; that is it's everywhere, but we are not always aware of its effect on language form, meaning and use. This course will help you to identify how culture affects language and how you can make your own learners aware of those effects.


Grading & Assessment

Attendance & Participation                         20%
Written reflections x 4                               20%
Culture project presentation                      10%
Final pragmatics presentation                    10%
Homework exercises x 8                           40%
Total                                                     100%

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Tentative Schedule

Week Text Topic Homework
1 Ch. 1 Get acquainted & define culture Read Ch. 1, ex. 1.1-1.3
2 Role play Role play cross-cultural communication Reflection 1
Ch. 2, 2.2-2.5
3 Ch. 2, 2.2-2.5 Reflection 1 due
Concept of self: individualist vs. collectivist
Ch. 2, 2.10-2.13
4 Ch. 2, 2.10-2.13 Concept of time: poly-chronic vs. mono-chronic Ch. 3, 3.2-3.5
5 Ch. 3, 3.2-3.5 Verbal communication:
Ch. 4, 4.1-4.5
6 Ch. 4, 4.1-4.5 Culture in the workplace:
high-power distance vs. low-power distance
Reflection 2
Ch. 2, 2.6-2.9,
Review exercises, pp. 48-52


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