Teaching Culture in English to Motivate Foreign Language Study


  • Norma Enea Klayman


ABSTRACT  In an era when foreign language study is no longer mandated, it becomes apparent that the profession must find effective vehicles to alert students to the rich experiences to be derived from foreign language study. One approach is the teaching of foreign culture in English to students before the study of foreign language itself. Most civilization courses in higher education are presented in the foreign language and are usually designed for foreign language majors. By offering courses concerning foreign civilization in English to non-speakers of foreign languages, the profession can reach large groups of non-majors to motivate an appreciation of the target cultures, and, more important, to demonstrate meaningful reasons for the study of foreign languages themselves. It is conceivable that once inspired via the culture, students will more willingly undertake foreign language study. A course for college undergraduates entitled “Contemporary France: Its Heritage and Its Influence” was taught recently in English on an exploratory basis and was highly appraised by the students who participated in it. It is recommended that similar courses be taught by foreign language departments in high schools as well as in colleges. The length and format can be varied. The author cautions, however, that such courses should be offered to encourage young people to study foreign languages, not as a substitute for them.