Constructing Culture Study Units: A Blueprint and Practical Tools


  • Jonathan F. Arries

    1. Old Dominion University
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      Jonathan F. Arries (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.


ABSTRACT  For years the leading voices in foreign language education have spoken to the issue of how to incorporate culture study in the second language classroom. There are essentially two schools of thought about culture study: a traditional “activity” approach and an “anthropology-process” model. Both schools have inspired innovative and successful techniques, yet seldom do the theorists of either group relate these to a specific language acquisition theory. A theoretical foundation for any model of culture study is important to practitioners, as it provides a blueprint according to which teachers can judge the adequacy of the activities in their repertoire. In this essay, I describe three integrated activities that students and teachers can use as tools to construct and evaluate a culture study unit at the novice level. I conclude with a summary of a psycholinguistic theory of language acquisition and append examples and evaluation forms.