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UNIT 4: FOREIGN LANGUAGE AS COMMUNICATION INSTRUMENT.

INTERNATIONAL AND MULTILINGUAL REALITIES. INTEREST FOR A


NEW LANGUAGE AND CULTURE.

1. FOREIGN LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION.


Language can be a barrier to communication. The most usual way to go round is to find
someone to interpret or translate it. there are many problems because exact equivalence
is impossible and there is always a loss of information, even with an accurate
translation.
On the other hand some people have created new artificial languages, neutral,
standardised, easy to learn, with a lot of functions, etc, but people cannot identify with a
language nobody speaks.
There is another solution, using a natural language for communication between different
groups of people. For centuries Latin has been used but nowadays is English the one
that is getting that position.
It is due to the political, economic and military power of the UK first and the USA later.
Trading, industry, science and literature have contributed to it.
English is a live language, changing and developing quickly. There are many linguistic
loans from all languages and the meaning of some words change quite easily. In
addition to that, verbs system is simple and English has not got genre.
Some people, most of them from countries with important languages, are reluctant to
learn a second language. But foreign language learning becomes a necessity nowadays:
 The European Community: meeting people from other countries on equal linguistic
terms. And also the possibility for workers to move from country to country.
 People travel a lot and languages help to cope with different situations and give the
opportunity of interaction with natives.
 There are more and more cultural exchanges. Science, technology and trading
demand foreign languages.
 Languages promote understanding, tolerance and respect for the cultural identity,
rights and values of others. They broaden our minds, because we find other ways of
thinking about things.
 Foreign language learning prepare students to cope with an ever-changing
environment. They face up to social and personal demands.
 Linguistic awareness is getting more and more accurate with foreign language
studying. Mother tongue gets also better.
So, teaching a language means also showing the linguistic aspects and knowing about
the culture. The language is a vehicle for it.

2. TEACHING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE


New materials include increasingly information about different aspects of the target
language community (geography, social values, sports,…)
It can help the contrast between foreign community habits and pupils’ own habits. They
must be aware of the different ways of behaviour and also reduce the risk of intolerance.
Meaning is not an isolated property of the text, it does not only appear in discourse, it is
relational. Pupils must know about the context where the text is shown.
Being English is a part of a person. We must also mind sex, age, social class, ethnic
background,…
The teaching of English culture is not only a matter of words. We must not reduce
culture to stereotypes. We are educating people for a more tolerant world and the
civilised acceptance of difference.

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Our task is to encourage people to take an interest and develop a positive attitude
towards the foreign country and its people.

3. CONTENTS
Sociocultural expressions are shown mostly in traditional material (e.g.: songs: “I love
sixpence”, “Teapot”)
Traditional games and sports also help.
Establishing differences and contrasts in:
 Some jobs (e.g.: milkman)
 Social politeness (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Excuse me, please…)
 Everyday activities (meals, time, school timetable)
 Weather (clothes, seasons)
 Sociocultural distinctions (driving on the left)
 Celebrations (Halloween)

THEME 4

THE SECOND LANGUAGE AS A MEANS OF


COMMUNICATION AMONG PEOPLE AND NATIONS.
GENERATING AN INTEREST IN LINGUISTIC
DIVERSITY THROUGH ANOTHER LANGUAGE AND
CULTURE
OUTLINE
PART ONE: TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION
2. CONTENTS
2.1. Language and communication
2.2. Language and different cultures
2.3. Language as an instrument of holistic learning
2.4. The importance of having materials in the resource room to achieve a good
intercultural atmosphere
2.5. ‘Immersion approach’ to second language learning
2.6. How to experience the culture of the English-speaking world in the classroom

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3. BIBLIOGRAPHY

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PART TWO: PRACTICAL DEVELOPMENT
1. LEVEL
2. TIME OF SESSIONS
3. OBJECTIVES
3.1. General
3.2. Specific
4. METHODOLOGY
5. THE TEACHING UNIT: SPECIFIC CONTENTS
6. ACTIVITIES AND TASKS
7. MATERIALS
8. FINAL TASK
9. EVALUATION

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PART ONE: TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION
Modern textbooks take into account the linguistic aspects of a second language. In
Fanfare, for example, Barbara Wilkes cites the following as her aims and objectives: to
create an initial interest and enjoyment in foreign-language learning; to develop a
positive attitude towards foreign cultures and people; to develop and awareness of the
link between language and culture; to develop an awareness of language as an
instrument of communication (Wilkes 1994: 8-9).

Thus, in addition to contributing “to the process of the development of the


child’s intellectual, social, emotional, and physical skills,” and fostering “improved
learning skills”, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) should also include
aspects related to intercultural appreciation and communication.

2. CONTENTS
2.1. Language and communication
Louis Porcher has observed that one of the objects of teaching a foreign
language “is to give the learner some measure of communicative competence in that
language. This competence may correspond to a future need of the learner (1980: 18).”
In effect, that the mastering a second language has become a need for most people today
is no longer a debatable issue. Schools not only have the responsibility of teaching a
second language as a linguistic system, but also as a social system to be used by the
learner. Hence, communication should begin in the school where the learning of a
second language is taking place. Porcher maintains that since all teaching is itself a
message, “It must therefore be suitable for those for whom it is in fact intended (19).”
For the author, a language is a social practice, a part of a people’s history. Thus, it
becomes necessary to educate pupils in the socio-cultural context which is characteristic
of the countries in which the foreign language is the mother tongue. It is evident that
inter-culturism is fast becoming an essential dimension in all teaching.

The Modern Languages Programme of the Council for Cultural Co-Operation of


the Council of Europe has specifically defined the political objective which guides the

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programme in the following manner: “to facilitate communication and interaction
among Europeans of different mother tongues in the service of European mobility,
mutual understanding and cooperation, and in order to overcome prejudice and
discrimination (Trim 1981: I).” The following members of the CDCC Project Group 4,
D. Coste, C. Edelhoff, R. Bergenthoft, J. L M. Trim, each other has something to say in
this respect.

Daniel Coste writes, “As far as we are concerned, ‘learning to communicate’


does not involve learning something totally new: all language learners are
communicators already; what foreign language learning involves is learning to
communicate differently and to communicate with a different set of people." Coste
holds that different ways of communicating have to be learned (and not just linguistic
ones). Furthermore, it is his belief that in order to learn to communicate with a different
set of people, one must also learn about them. Hence, communication is inseparable
from a cultural context. The learning process itself becomes one of learning to
communicate: “For adults, adolescents and children alike, learning is a process which,
however slightly, involves and changes the whole individual as a person and social
agent; when it comes to learning a different language to communicate differently with a
different set of people, it is a fair assumption that the changes and the involvement will
be all marked (34).”

2.2. Language and different cultures


Christopher Edelhoff feels the attitude of learners is as important as their
linguistic knowledge and skills. “Teachers teaching a communication curriculum must
be ready to accept that communication is free interaction between people of all talents,
views, races and socio-cultural backgrounds and that foreign language communication,
especially, is there for international understanding, human rights, democratic
development and individual enrichment.” In order to achieve this end the learner needs
to have an attitude which reflects open-mindedness and respect for others; attitude must
also include respect for the history, environment, and views of other people (76).”

Rume Bergentoft reminds us, “In the final Act of the Conference on Security
and Co-operation in Europe, signed in Helsinki in 1975 by the heads of state of the
participating nations, the latter expressed their conviction regarding the role now played

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by a knowledge of languages in connection among other things with closer international
cooperation. It was decided that a wider knowledge of languages was needed to promote
world peace and cooperation (33).

Finally, J. L. Trim warns of the “classical paradigm” of language teaching and


“elitism” in traditional language teaching at school. “The ‘classical paradigm’ continued
to dominate grammar schools until recently, and is till strong in many member
countries...” The author explains that the ‘classical paradigm’ tends to extend certain
values and attitudes, which reflect the classics to the languages and cultures of modern
Europe. He points out that from this perspective, the study of a foreign language is but
an intellectual discipline, based on the translation of passages from the classics which
have little bearing on the real world in which learners actually live. Trim further
declares, “This ‘classical paradigm’ is avowedly elitist.” He feels that it creates barriers
to communication which tend to reinforce and perpetuate divisions in society. However,
Trim concludes that, though the classical paradigm continues to be powerful,
contemporary creative writing no longer employs the criteria of clarity and refined taste
“to which the classical paradigm attaches the greatest importance (p. XX-XXI).”

Other authors have taken similar positions. Earl W. Stevick refers to a language
class as being “one area in which a number of private universes intersect one another
(1980: 7).” He feels that each learner, though a total individual, is in fact affected by
what the others do. The teacher should be aware –and sympathize with the fact- that
there are times when a learner will resist learning something which violates certain peer
norms. For example, learners may at first reject the language simply because of its
foreignness. Teachers should therefore be aware that the fear of losing support from
those closest to the learner (peers, parents, etc.) may be an inhibiting factor. Stevick
refers to a “world of meaningful action”, which, he says, tends to draw peers, family
members, and life-goals during the language learning process. He concludes,
“Foreignness, shallowness, irrelevance, and the subordinate position of the student –all
may be obstacles to a learner’s feeling of ‘primacy in a world of meaningful action’
(10).”

2.3. Language as an instrument of holistic learning

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Paul G. La forge affirms, “Language learning is people: this is the basic social
process in learning ( 1983: viii).” By this he means that the acquisition of second
language is the result of an interpersonal relationship which includes the teacher and the
group of students. For La Forge, the interactions are dynamic and contribute to a
personal growth for all involved. Their relationship becomes modified as a result of the
learning of a new language. Furthermore, he recognizes the significance of the social
process in twentieth-century language development: “A process view of language has
opened the route to an understanding of mankind, social history, and the laws of how a
society functions (1).” This means that EFL learning involves social, historical, cultural,
and individual interconnections.

Gertrude Moskowitz defends a system of “Humanistic Education”, which she


describes as “combining the subject matter to be learned with the feelings, emotions,
experiences, and lives of the learners (1978: 11).” She is concerned with educating the
whole person, both intellectually and emotionally.

In the author’s opinion, second language learning not only stimulates better
human understanding, but it also leads to greater independence and self-steem. By
learning another language, learners care more both for themselves and others.

Caleb Gattegno believed in “the spirit of language.” He felt hat by learning


another language one absorbs the culture and history of the language users. Human
beings incorporate into their languages conscious or unconscious collective aims,
passions, and vision, which are taken on by the learner. He suggested that languages are
reflections of the various modes of thought of a people: “The spirit of each language
seems to act as a container for the melody and the structure of the language and most
users are unconscious of it (1978: 19)”.

2.4. The importance of having materials in the resource room to achieve


a good intercultural atmosphere
Brumfit and Finocchiaro suggest that acquiring a language also implies
acquiring “enough knowledge about the culture of the target community to participate
fully in a conversation at the beginning of a stay in a foreign country”. Additionally,
they hold that EFL teaching should provide “the implicit and explicit learning of culture

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and language varieties through a multi-media approach and an active methodology
based on creative use of language (1985: 26)”. In order to achieve this they suggest
using the following resources: radio broadcasts, television, tapes, cassettes,
documentary, recreational films, pictures, and short dialogs dealing with everyday
situations. Furthermore, paralinguistic features need to be considered as well as gestures
and facial expressions. The authors insist that learners cultural insights are a must in
EFL learning.

2.5. ‘Immersion approach’ to second language learning


H. H. Stern alludes to an area of investigation, language teaching for younger
children, which came to the fore around 1960 when UNESCO organized meetings in
Hamburg in 1962 and 1966 with the purpose of stimulating comparative research in
different countries. However, he sadly concludes that within ten years most of the
resulting enquiries had “not always produced the clear-cut finding that had perhaps been
expected from them when they were initiated (1984: 56)”. The two UNESCO-sponsored
international meetings were intended to promote research on early language teaching
and on the effectiveness of an early start. These meetings centred on the feasibility of an
early start in school systems and revealed that young children responded to second
language teaching in a positive way (364).

On a similar note, Stern asserts that two of the most interesting research
endeavours in the seventies were the Council of Europe Modern Languages Project and
the Canadian French immersion experiments, of which he was a participant. The
Council of Europe Project, which was initiated in 1971, involves the co-operation of
school-ars in several countries.

The French immersion research programme in Canada, which began in 1965,


“illustrates the effectiveness of an ‘immersion’ approach to second language learning
(1984: 66)”. In both studies, communication or communicative competence was one of
the prime objectives.

Stern further points out that the term “communicative competence”, is a term
which is used a great deal. Hymes was the first to employ the term, in contrast to
Chomsky’s “linguistic competence”. “Communicative competence” reflects the social

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view of language. The concept of communicative competence is integral with
communicative language teaching. It has become a central focus for EFL teaching,
which involves the study and practice of functional, structural, lexical and sociocultural
aspects. The learning experience itself should be personal and engage in a direct use of
the language and contact with the target language community (Stern 1984: 26).

2.6. How to experience the culture of the English-speaking world in the


classroom
Finally, to develop cultural insights, Finocchiaro suggests the classroom should
“reflect the culture of the English-speaking world (1974: 94)”. She submits that the
following aspects be incorporated into EFL teaching: maps and posters, a bulletin board
with newspaper and magazine clipping, including comic strips, proverbs and pictures; a
table or shelf with objects such as stamps, money, artifacts, and a library corner. She
also recommends the carrying out of “projects related to English-speaking culture which
will then serve for class reporting and discussion (95)”. Such projects might include the
following: preparation of maps, travel itineraries, floor plans, menus, calendars
indicating holidays, scrapbook, flimstrips or pictures, play readings, a book fair.
Additionally, culture may be experienced through songs, festivals, poems, multimedia
resource material. She also suggests, “A pen pal project should be initiated very soon
after the students learn to write (97)”.

3. BIBLIOGRAPHY

FINOCCHIARO, M.: (1974). English as a second language: from theory to


practice. Reprint ed. New York: Regents.

FINOCCHIARO M. And BRUMFIT, C.: (1985). The functional-notional approach:


from theory to practice. Reprint ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

GATTEGNO, C.: (1978). Teaching foreign languages in schools: the silent way. 2nd
ed. New York: Educational Solutions.

LA FORGE, P. G.: (1983). Counseling and Culture in Second Language


Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

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MOSKOWITZ, G.: (1978). Caring and sharing in the foreign language class: A
sourcebook on humanistic techniques. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

PORCHER, L.: (1980). Reflections on language needs in the school. Strasbourg:


Council for Cultural Cooperation of the Council of Europe.

STERN, H. H.: (1984). Fundamental concepts of languge teaching. 3rd ed. Oxford:
Oxford Univ. Press.

STEVICK, E.W.:(1980). Teaching languages: a way and ways. Rowley,


Massachusetts: Newbury House.

TRIM, J. L. M., project adviser: (1981). Modern languages programme 1971-1981.


Strasbourg: Council for Cultural Co-Operation of the Council of Europe.

VILKES, B.: (1994). Fanfare. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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PART TWO: PRACTICAL DEVELOPMENT
1. LEVEL
Third cycle (6 th grade)

2. TIME OF SESSION
Four periods of class, one week before Christmas.

3. OBJECTIVES
3.1. General
- To recognize the communicative value of learning a foreign language,
showing a positive attitude of understanding and respect for other languages
and cultures.
3.2. Specific
- Students will be able to increase their understanding of and compare
Christmas customs in English speaking countries.
- Learn the lyrics and music of popular Christmas Carol and sing it.
- Experience and extract information from the song in the past tense.
- Interact with other cultures.

4. METHODOLOGY
The methodology used should be suitable to a communicative approach to teaching
English as a foreign language. That is, taking into consideration the age, ability and
needs of the students, as well as the criteria specified in the overall objectives of the
course, the EFL teacher should apply leaning strategies which are based on learning by
doing, i.e., task oriented strategies. The tasks required elicit a participative attitude on
the part of the learners and a guiding role on the part of the teacher. Additionally, the
teacher should help the students to learn both to think and to do in the target language.

5. THE TEACHING UNIT: SPECIFIC CONTENTS


Conceptual:
- vocabulary (Specifics words from the song and Christmas words)
- phonological aspects (practise the pronunciation of the consonant –r-).
Procedural:

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- Christmas environment.
- warm-up activities
- listening tasks
- Productive activities
Sociological aspects:
- Curiosity for different customs.
- Respect for different cultures.

6. ACTIVITIES AND TASKS


6.1. Brain-storming: The students (SS) say any English words they know
which are related to Christmas.
6.2. The teacher (T) shows them how to make a calendar of events.
6.3. SS work in groups (four to five people) and make one calendar for each
group.
6.4. Using a cassette recorder, T plays Christmas carols while SS work with
the calendars.
6.5. SS hang their calendars on the walls and T uses them to go over the
meaning of words.
6.6. T plays the song Rudolph the red-nose Reindeer and while SS listen
carefully.
6.7. SS read the lyrics of the song with missing words (listening task).
6.8. By listening and discussing SS find the missing words and start
memorizing the lyrics (day by day).
6.9. T gives SS a text from “Mary’s Diary” which tells what Mary did last
Christmas.
6.10 Using their own native language (L1), SS discuss in how the Christmas
customs narrated in Mary’s diary compare with customs in Spain.
6.11 At the end of the short-term series, the classroom is decorated. SS give
each other presents and they sing together the song “Rudolph the red-nose
reindeer”.

7. MATERIALS
- A cassette tape of the song “Rudolph...” and a cassette recorder.

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- Wrapping paper, glue, scissors, coloured markers and optional material
(tacks, staplers, etc.).
- A textof Mary’s diary talking about Christmas customs in her country.

8. FINAL TASK
SS write about what they did last Christmas: The pages will go into a class diary that
everyone can read.
9. EVALUATION

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