The Third problem teachers are facing is: Dealing with Studentsí Negative Attitudes.
Students often approach target-culture phenomena assuming that the new patterns of behavior can be understood within the framework of their own native culture. When cultural phenomena differ from what they expect, students often react negatively, characterizing the target culture as "strange".
Solution: Just as teachers need to help students revise their "linguistic patterns," they also need to help them revise their "cultural patterns." Students should be aware that it is important to recognize the pervasive influence of culture on our attitudes, emotions, beliefs, and values, and the dangers of projecting our native frame of reference on that of the culture being studied. To understand another culture, we must construct a new frame of reference in terms of the people who created it, which is complicated since cultures have both functions (meanings, purposes, needs) and forms (manifestations, realizations, operations) that vary widely, not only across cultures, but also within the subcultures of a society. As students are introduced to the target culture, they need to learn to expect differences, and eventually to understand and appreciate their logic and meaning. Any assumptions of cross-cultural similarity should be made with caution, as cultures may not share the same form/function relationships.
In order to help students construct a new frame of reference based on the target culture, one possible solution would be to help them begin with an understanding of their own frame of reference, and then, with teacher guidance, explore the target culture through authentic texts and materials. It is also important for teachers to become aware of their own biases and help students recognize theirs.
Page Created on September 8th, 1998
Last updated on April 19th,1999
Copyright (C) 1998/1999 by Nada AbiSamra.
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