By Nada AbiSamra
(Based on "Teaching Language in Context" by Alice Omaggio Hadley & "Teaching Culture Strategies for Intercultural Communication" by H. Ned Seelye)
The Need for the Development of Cultural Understanding
People all over the world have become more aware of the value of second language competence and cross-cultural understanding.
As populations have become increasingly diverse, more and more parents, educators, and students have come to recognize the importance of valuing multiculturalism. The need for a strong commitment to the development of cultural understanding within the language program is clear; evidence of "hate crimes" against various ethnic or social groups throughout the world reveals the crying need for understanding and mutual acceptance among the world’s peoples. The valuing of ethnic and cultural diversity must be a high priority in education as our students learn to live in an increasingly interdependent world. Moreover, it has been proven that investment in learning about other languages and cultures can bring significant economic and technological advantages.
Yet, culture is still the weakest component of our curricula; cultural teaching is remaining insubstantial and sporadic in most language classrooms. Why is it so? What are the problems foreign language teachers are facing? Can we find appropriate solutions?
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