ABSTRACT: The study of culture and that of literature must be separated, though they are neither irreconcilable nor antagonistic, and both are humanistic disciplines. Semiotics is the study of signs, and in the semiotic approach the objective is to interpret natural language signs into whatever cultural signs may be implicit (e.g., in French culture: “les conges payés,” paid vacation). This approach to culture seems particularly suited to teachers of languages, who are not trained as social scientists. Cultural data can be broken down into four categories: (1) factual information about the structure of official institutions; (2) studies of attitudes and beliefs of a sociological or anthropological nature; (3) raw documents such as interviews, pictures, ads, etc.; (4) study of functions. (Two examples of semiotic analysis of French “raw documents” are included in an appendix.)