Culture in Foreign Language Teaching

Document Type : Original Article


University of California at Berkeley, US


In foreign language education, the teaching of culture remains a hotly debated issue. What is culture? What is its relation to language? Which and whose culture should be taught? What role should the learners’ culture play in the acquisition of knowledge of the target culture? How can we avoid essentializing cultures and teaching stereotypes? And how can we develop in the learners an intercultural competence that would shortchange neither their own culture nor the target culture, but would make them into cultural mediators in a globalized world? This paper explores these issues from the perspective of the large body of research done in Australia, Europe and the U.S. in the last twenty years. It links the study of culture to the study of discourse (see, e.g., Kramsch 1993, 1998, 2004) and to the concept of translingual and transcultural competence proposed by the Modern Language Association (e.g., Kramsch, 2010). Special attention will be given to the unique role that the age-old Persian culture can play in fostering the cultural mediators of tomorrow.