Adult Learners’ Perceptions of the Significance of Culture in Foreign Language Teaching and Learning

Kimberly Anne Brooks-Lewis


Is learning about culture important when learning a foreign language? One would think that after its long history in the field of foreign language teaching this question had been answered with a resounding ‘yes’. However, I saw little evidence of this in the classroom when I returned to the university to learn a foreign language or when I began teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL). I decided to investigate, and found that while much has been published about the theory of the need for inclusion of culture in foreign language teaching, I was struck by the absence of reports on the study of learners’ opinions on the issue and resolved to do such a study. Since I had encountered no teaching materials that I felt encompassed the teaching of culture sufficiently, I designed an introductory EFL course specifically for the adult learners I was working. The course centered on intercultural communication and awareness, and I employed it as the ‘medium’ for qualitative action research to learn about the learners’ perceptions of the experience. In this paper I report on their responses to the focus on culture. The research reveals that while the inclusion of culture and the concept of ‘learner centering’ in foreign language education are recognized in theory, these considerations have not been effectively incorporated into practice. It is hoped that the definitive insights from learners’ assessments of the significance of explicitly learning about culture when learning a foreign language will instigate its further inclusion and promote conscious learner centering.

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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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