Integrating Culture into Beginner-Level Chinese Language Teaching

Author:Page 94-103 Time:2019-07-10 Click:

Culture is widely regarded as imperative for foreign language (FL) education because culture and language intertwine when people use language for communication. Many teachers and scholars who agree with this argument tend to integrate culture into advanced-level language courses. However, culture is insufficiently integrated into beginner-level FL courses. This insufficiency comes from teachers’ limited cultural literacy regarding the integration of communicative culture into beginner-level language courses. It also reflects inadequacies of the mainstream FL pedagogical frameworks and paradigms. In an increasingly globalized world, highlighting the role of culture in FL curricula can help people understand FL programs’ contributions to educating globalized citizens. Culture is particularly important for U.S. Chinese language education because Chinese is a truly difficult language for English-speaking learners and relies heavily on culture to make communication successful. This article analyzes five approaches to integrating culture into language instruction: (1) culture exists as “add-ons” in Chinese language education; (2) culture provides contexts to understand language behaviors; (3) culture conventionally forms a specific linguistic system; (4) culture and language intertwine and merge into linguistic codes and language behaviors; and (5) culturally-situated speech events work as sequencing units to organize Chinese language curricula. These approaches are discussed and exemplified through beginner-level Chinese language examples. Overall, this article provides Chinese teachers with specific strategies for integrating Chinese culture into beginner-level Chinese language teaching.

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