The Predicament of Culture in Language Teaching
The recent emphasis in language pedagogy on meanings and functions
in authentic contexts of communication has brought "culture" into the picture.
But what do we mean by culture? Is it something that can and should
be taught? Language teachers are not trained anthropologists, ethnographers,
sociologists, or even literary scholars who each have their own definition
of culture. And if, as many argue, we cannot avoid teaching culture,
the question is: which or whose culture should we teach? This paper
explores what the current obsession with culture means for the way we view
our role as teachers, and the opportunities and problems it creates.
Claire Kramsch studied German Language and Literature
at the Sorbonne and in Munich, and took post graduate courses in Applied
Linguistics at Harvard University. She is a Professor of German and
Foreign Language Education. She holds appointments in the German
Department and in the Language, Literacy and Culture Division of the Graduate
School of Education and is the Director of the Berkeley Language Center,
a resource and professional development center for all foreign language
teachers on campus, that she founded in 1994. Professor Kramsch teaches
undergraduate and graduate seminars in Second Language
Acquisition/Applied Linguistics and supervises PhD dissertations
in the Graduate School of Education. Her main area of research is
applied sociolinguistics and the rold of discourse and culture in language
learning and teaching. She has published extensively on the topic
and has given numerous workshops and seminars in the U.S.A. and in Europe.