The Difficulty of Cultural Content in English Language Learning


Language is said to be a means of expression. Language is expressed in different feelings, thoughts, and emotions. These expressions can be in various forms such as words, gestures, and symbols. Language is said to be a form of communication. Also, it can be verbal, physical and biological innate. The characteristics portrayed by a certain group of people such as language, art, music, and religion is defined as culture. Therefore we can say that a language defines the culture of a certain people using the same language thus when learning a new language one has to familiarize themselves with the culture associated with the given language. This study intends to find out whether learning the culture of a target language (English) is important and the difficulty it comes with. For decades, many scholars and researchers have done an in-depth analysis of this topic. The aim of the study is to find out the relationship between language and culture and the difficulties it comes with when learning the English language. 

Keywords: Language, Culture

1. Introduction

Over the recent years, English has become the most spoken language globally. The language serve many purposes such as Commerce, science, tourism and in educating students. Also, the language was used during colonization. The language also serves as a symbol of power for various countries such as England and USA. For people to achieve their intended goals, they continue to learn English, unlike other languages. This shows how the English language has become inferior to other languages. At this point, it is the concern of many as to whether when learning English language, it is important to learn culture as well and the difficulties associated with both. Over the past decade, several researchers in the field of sociolinguistics have put across various discussions on the difficulty of cultural content in English language learning. 

According to Bryam, 1990; Byram & Flemming, 1998, English culture should be taught to learners enrolled in the English classes in order to comprehend the importance of culture on the English speaking nations. Kachru & Nelson (1996) stated that learners should not learn the cultures of the English people since English is only Institutionalized. Various researchers rejected idea of teaching the culture of the target language as students will experience difficulties in learning the foreign language. In this case, we see that one scholar agrees that the culture of the English language should come in handy while learning English. The other scholar states that English is being used globally thus it is not necessary to learn its cultural content.

2. Culture

There are various definitions of culture in many fields. In biology, culture means a group of bacteria growing in a favourable environment. Culture also means appreciating something good like music, food, and literature. In anthropology and other behavioral sciences, culture is the study of different behavioral patterns in humans. The first scholar to define culture was an English Anthropologist Edward B. Tylor. According to him, it means “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society “(Tylor, 1871). Anthropology focuses on culture as its main area of study. Over the recent years, culture has become fragile, and it is changing dynamically, and some cultures are even lost as they only exist in our minds. There are various products of our cultures such as languages, buildings, and other human-made things. 

Artefacts of the ancient people are not their culture but a symbol of their culture. Due to this archaeologists cannot come up within their cultures through the study of the artefacts. These artefacts are only remnants of the ancient people, and they only show their cultural patterns. These remnants are things made by the ancient people through the acquired skills and knowledge. Culture defines people through their language, religion, music, social habits, and arts. Culture defines people and influence the unique features they have. Everyone have their way of doing various activities and rituals. The beliefs and values of a certain group of people are also defined as culture. Culture is also defined by peoples way of living and thinking. Culture varies from different societies, groups, regions and social class. Organizations have different types of cultures which makes them different from other organizations. People living in the same region may have differences with their cultural beliefs. For example, the culture of the Maritime region of Canada varies from the rest of the region. They talk differently and listen to different forms of music.

3. The difficulty of Cultural Content In English Language learning

Language is what people communicate using. It is also considered that language carriers culture along and thus the two are intertwined (Wei, 2005: 56). Language portrays a particular culture. According to Brown (1994:165), “A language is a part of a culture, and culture is a part of a language; the two are intricately interwoven so that one cannot separate the two without losing the significance of either language or culture.” According to Jiang (2000, 328), culture and language cannot be separated because one cannot do without the other. According to Gao (2006), there exists an interdependency between learning English and culture. Students learning should be assisted in enhancing their cultural awareness and improve their cultural competence. Teachers should also incorporate cultural studies during English learning since there exists a huge cultural difficulty in English learning. According to Wang (2008),” foreign language teaching is foreign culture teaching, and foreign language teachers are foreign culture teachers.” 

Globalisation and the international role played by the English language are the main reasons why people learn the culture as the fifth language as well as writing, listening, reading and speaking. The fifth language which is culture assists learners in having the right mind-set and the right technique which will be used to adapt the use of English language at the same time understand and appreciate the various values which come with the language and the different methods of doing things and the unique characters associated with the language. This, however, possesses as a challenge as it is hard to change from one way from doing things to the other. Also, what is good in one culture might be wrong in the other culture and thereby convincing the learner to change their way of thinking will pose a challenge. Students are expected to understand the differences between their language and the new language and be flexible as many things will change. Learners are expected to change their attitude while using the new language. Cultural values (what is thought to be important), skills, behavior and cultural knowledge should be included when teaching the culture of English as a Second Language (ESL).

4. Influence of Culture on learning English Language

Culture plays a major influence when learning the English language. Culture has a major impact while learning English. Culture influences how people speak, their listening and reading skills.

4.1 Vocabulary and Cultural influence

Language is the carrier of culture of the people involved with it. In every language, there is a basic component known as vocabulary. The cultural difference within a certain language will be realized by the use various terminologies and how they are explained. This will help learners understand the cultural difference in existence. For example, in Chinese color white is usually associated with pure, the noble and saints (Choudhry, 2017). In most western countries, brides are dressed in white during their wedding while in China the bride is dressed in red during their traditional wedding. This happens in China because of red means happiness, prosperous and good luck. In China white is worn in funerals. Colour white is associated with the weak people in the society. This means that when learning a culture, a learner should not only learn about grammar rules and their various meaning but also learn the people’s cultural phenomena, their ways of life, their customs as well as their habits and their history. Each culture has its implications if not learned well and all the words have their meaning. It is important while learning a vocabulary to understand all the factors associated with culture.

4.2 The influence of culture on listening skills

Learners learning foreign language complain that despite spending a lot of time learning and polishing their listening skills, they do not progress well in their study. This student tries and invests in various items such as tape decoders which help in improving their listening skills and listen to it several hours daily. But a challenge comes up when this student comes across a new listening material they cannot understand them despite listening to the other material for many hours. According to experts the reason for this may be due to their weak grammar, poor pronunciation and small vocabulary. Another factor which is an important aspect is the fact that they lack the required background on culture and skills on the learnt language. Culture, politics, and economy of a target language closely related to the listening skills. When examining a person’s listening skills, many factors should be considered. They include the level of English, his logical thinking, and his resourceful ability.

When listening to things which are familiar to us or they revolve around us like news stories, lectures or politics, it is easier for us to understand than those things which do not relate to us. If new words are introduced in things which revolve around us, we can guess the meaning. On the other hand, if we associate ourselves with materials which are familiar to us concerning the culture, it will not be easy to understand. At times the materials may look easy, and we can understand them by listening to the tape, but due to lack of knowledge of the necessary cultural background, it will be hard to understand them comprehensively.  For example in a statement, Kempinski went down the hill from Chappaquiddick is simple for everyone to understand (Choudhry, 2017). But in the case that the learner does not know that the name Chappaquiddick represents a city they will not know the real meaning of the sentence. This sentence means Kennedy suffered in the traffic accident E. We can see that culture plays a huge role in our listening and understanding ability and culture cannot be omitted when learning a new language. Culture can make us progress greatly in our listening ability and also it can make our listening ability great. Learners should always take advantage of culture if they want to improve their listening skills.

4.3 Cultural influence on speaking

Learners should be encouraged to read as much as possible to understand the culture associated with English. This way, they will be in a position to communicate successfully with the rest. Teachers should also put more emphasis on using the language practically by engaging the students with readily available materials. Also, the materials should be interesting and should happen regularly in their daily lives. This will help learners in using proper sentences and in the right context. No matter how well a person is trained to speak the said language mistakes or misunderstands happens. For example, there was a young interpreter who had learned the English language very well, and all his pronunciation were perfect. He was employed in a company whereby he was assigned to accompany a foreign guest and show him around. He did all he could to make the foreigner comfortable by being kind and considerate. He was attentive and tried to tell the foreigner words like “you come here, don’t be late, you sit here.” The following day the foreigner was clear that he did not intend to go with him because he felt that the young foreigner was rude (Choudhry, 2017). According to the foreigner, the interpreter was just scolding him instead of helping him. He felt like the interpreter treated him like a child. What the interpreter lacked was the cultural background knowledge which is a very important aspect, and this made him incompetent for this kind of job. According to this story, it is important to understand the context of their words the reason for saying it and also the time.

4.4 The influence of culture on Reading

Reading is a complicated process as one have to obtain outside information, decode them, then analyze and later judge the information as well as infer the information through the cognitive system. It is important for the students to understand the symbols and gestures as well associate with the language across geographical range, their history and the customs and beliefs among others. Linguistic factors usually affect a person’s learning of the language but also cultural factors have an important role as well. Learners experience different barriers during the reading process but the most common one it the difference in culture between the target language and their local language. The differences include text structures, words, sentences and biological information. Most of the times students are in a position to understand the meaning of a one word but when the word is put in a big context they are not able to interpret the meaning. An example of this is the speech of Churchill during the Second World War whereby he used his secretary’s words to pass on his message. “After dinner, when I was thinking on the croquet lawn with Mr. Churchill, he reverted to this theme, and I asked whether for him, the arch anti-Communist, this was not bowing down in the house of Rimmon. Mr. Churchill replied, ‘Not at all. I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and any life is much simplified thereby. If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons” (Choudhry, 2017). From the statement, Churchill said, “bow down in the house of Rimmon” This is a quote from the bible and it means undertaking something against your own will. The other quote was “Hell” and lastly the “devil.” In a layman’s perspective, one can say that he compared the communist with Hell and the Soviet was the devil. By using this, we find that Churchill avoided to disappoint the Soviet Union Communist and he displayed an anti-communist character. The real meaning of the paragraph was that Churchill was still supporting the salvation of the humans through the USSR and he was still against Communist. This means that when reading something, we should focus our attention to the influence of the said culture of the writer since most of the written work are usually influenced by their cultures. Therefore knowing a language does not solve all the problems of reading, the reader should be in a position to identify with the language culture.

4.5 Cultural influence on translating

Culture influences are translating to a greater extent.  It is a requirement for a person to understand clearly the said and the source language. The main problem which arises during translation is understanding of the culture of the two languages. Knowledge of the cultural background includes history, philosophy, geography, and art. An example of a sentence, I was Frankenstein and not Pygmalion. In this case, Pygmalion was the king of Cyprus in the stories we read. He loved and adored a beautiful statute and the Goddess saw his pure love and adored the statute with life. Pygmalion ended up marrying her. On the other hand, Frankenstein played a character as a medical college student in M.W. Shelley’s script. In the script, he created a monster which ate him after a while. Pygmalion represents a person enjoying his creation while Frankenstein means a person suffering from what he created. This two-term shows that during translation one should not only understand the structure but also understand the cultural meaning of the texts.

5. Teaching culture in English to First Language students

Coaching culture is the hardest thing. Teachers can also show learners the way to follow but they cannot control the way learners perceive things, and this is due to cultural imperialism. Teachers should ensure they create awareness of the important facts of the language. This will help them understand that all cultures are equal. Also, the students can see that there are differences between various cultures. According to Kramsch (1993), for students to understand a foreign culture easily, they current cultures should be placed together with the foreign cultures for easier understanding. Learners should be in a position to construct their meanings instead of relying on the teachers to translate for them. This will create opportunities for the students to create their meanings through reflecting on their local culture and the target culture. Kramsch (1993) is known as a sphere of interculturality. Teachers should always create awareness to the students about their own culture so that they can have a better understanding of the own culture (Straub, 1999). They should also make a comparison with the other culture (Wei, 2005: 55) so that they will be in a good position to conduct a cross-cultural analysis. While choosing the materials to be used while teaching, teachers, and developers are asked to take into consideration the learner’s socio-cultural background into consideration (McKay, 2002).  What the learners bring into the classrooms should also be used so that they are not denied the opportunity to expose their experiences. 

Variations in cultures should be put into consideration in a move to avoid hindrance and failure in classworks. When learning a certain language, learners have to master various contents of the culture of the language so that they are in a position to embrace warm feelings of solidarity. According to McKay (2002; 7), warm feelings are displayed when using the language socially. English language learners should understand what the native speaker means when using the language even when they decide not to copy the native speakers’ behavioral content.

5.1 Guidelines to be followed when Teaching Culture

Culture is dynamic as it keeps on changing. McKay (2002), have formulated some guidelines to be used when teaching culture.  Knowledge of the target culture should be developed with the necessary skills which will help to master communication and the required behavior in the target culture. According to McKay, cultural awareness should be encouraged in developing the learners understanding of the changing culture of the target culture and also of the learners own culture. Teachers should use systemic and structured systems since learners will understand well their cultural aspects of the target language when their lessons are planned and developed in an organized manner (McKay, 2002). Culture learning assessment should be adopted as it provides a reliable feedback to the teachers as well as their learners. The teacher usually assists their learners to direct their experience and also reply to their experiences when learning culture of the target language. The learning cycle which the learners’ pass includes building skills, secondly developing cultural behavior and lastly discovering the cultural explanation. The role of the teacher plays an important role to a greater extent as it can influence the attitude of a learner either negatively or positively towards cultural learning.

 Good working relationships between the teachers and the learners should be established by the teachers and create room for respect and mutuality (Ellis, 2003:17).  The teacher has many roles which they should undertake, and thus they need to be versatile. Firstly they should present the available cultural information, secondly they should coach the learners on the various models of cultural behaviors, and lastly, teachers are expected to guide the students in conducting the research and analysis of the culture. Teachers are also expected to offer a listening ear to the learners and understand them. Teachers should also share their various culture experiences with students to assist them understand better other cultures. We can see that a teacher plays a vital role in creating awareness of the cultures to the learners. The teacher has the mandate to provide the learners with various learning materials which will help them in integrating the cultural objectives in the process of learning. It is the duty of the teacher to understand that every child has his or her own cultural identity. It is the role of the teachers to encourage active reflection of the target culture and also initiate cultural comparison among the learners, and this will lead to the creation of cultural creation.

5.2 Techniques for Developing Cultural Awareness

To develop cultural awareness in students, various techniques have to be implemented in the classrooms. The use of literature and drama have become a common way of impacting cultural awareness in the learners (O’Dowd, 2004). Learners ought to show their interest in intercultural teaching to make it easier for the teachers (Planet & Byram, 1999). The learners own culture should not act as a barrier in exposing the learner to the new culture, but it should make sure the learner can focus on the new culture. Each learner has their own experience in different cultures, and they are encouraged to reflect on their cultures individually. The learners are introduced to various techniques which usually helps them in explaining about their culture to people from different cultures since they have to use the English language. 

Planet and Byram advice the teachers not to spoon feed the students with ready-made materials but give them sources where they can find the information they need to conduct their analysis. Learners need to be encouraged to conduct an in-depth analysis of their culture even though they were born into the culture. They have to understand their culture so that they can be able to relate to the new culture. During teaching, teachers should first introduce the leaners culture followed by the target culture. This helps the student on reflecting deeper into their own culture so that they can understand the target culture easily. This also helps the students in discovering their knowledge regarding their own culture and apply the same knowledge on the target culture. According to Byram, a comparative approach technique should be adopted and used to develop intercultural competence. This approach is aimed at providing a double perspective which will assist the learners in their studies (Planet & Byram, 1999:189). Learners will be in a position to achieve the double perspective through interpretation of the learner’s ways of doing things through cultural beliefs which they have learned from their elders and at home. Through comparative approach those things that seemed strange becomes familiar, and those familiar things become strange. Teachers should start each lesson with presenting things which vary in the local culture.

The lesson goes ahead to discuss why the differences obtained causes problems. Culture assimilators are easily misunderstood by the students as they are used in adjusting to another culture. Also they are used to describe a critical occurrence of cross-cultural interaction. The students are then presented with the various explanation like around four from which they are expected to choose the correct one. In case they choose wrongly, the students are requested to refer further until they can make the right choice. According to Hughes in Valdes (1986), the main aim of cultural assimilators is to assist in promoting the understanding of various information in a culture and understand the emotions of those pursuing a foreign language. Another technique which promotes culture assimilation is culture capsule. Culture capsule helps the learner in comparing the home culture with the target culture through presented inaccessible items of the said culture. In this, different aids are used to show the difference and also set the required questions to facilitate class discussions. In cultural problem solving, the learners are presented with the problems, and they are given rooms to discuss the various cultural differences. The participants are given an opportunity to read to share their experiences concerning the topic being discussed. This enables the students to express their ideas through discussions. The discussions can also be used by the teacher to knowing how much the students already know concerning the set topic through the previously mentioned techniques. 

The ideas being expressed should be emphasized to the learners so that they understand. Students should be allowed to brainstorm in a move to gauge how much they have understood concerning the target language. They can also form small discussion groups and focus on the activity at hand (ibid). Most of the effective techniques according to O’Dowd (2004) is to involve the students drama and various role plays.  In role play, the learners are encouraged to imitate a person. In many cases, the scenario and the instructions are usually provided, and the students are encouraged to be as creative as possible. This method is popular as it uses language and the students are expected to be imaginative as possible. When playing a role, it is always advised to use real aids from English speaking countries such as Menus and train tickets. The role play should be recorded as used as a future reference. Those students who are directly involved in cross-cultural misunderstanding are advised to use drama.  In this method, students are advised to act short scenes which displays the misinterpretation of things the students confuse, and the last scene should clarifies all of them. Audio motor Unit or Total Physical Response can also be used to teach culture as they are designed as a listening exercise. In this, students are exposed to various oral classes where they respond to the questions asked. This classes exposes the students to the contents of the cultures they are learning.

6. Teaching Materials for cultural awareness

There are numerous resources which helps in teaching a foreign language class. According to Durant (1997), the sources include recorded videos of the target country, interacting with the members of the target language, visiting the country, listening to the countries media, acquiring available data from history, the political world as well as the fashion and style of the target country. The above list lacks literature which is said to be an effective source of cultural material for learners. Many materials used in teaching language are cultural biased. It is common to find out that resources used to teach language have aspects of biases from the culture. This means that the content directly displays the attitudes towards other cultures. So as to encourage intercultural point of view, the materials used should view the cultural from at least two contrastive perspective, this is known as two-dimensions. Unfortunately the writers are unable to adopt the two dimension perspective, making the one dimension perspective more common as they are unable to avoid using culture-bound ideas.

6.1 Textbooks used in teaching Foreign Language and Intercultural Learning

Among the materials used in teaching, textbooks are the common ones. They help in forming the syllabus as well as have a rich source of topics and texts which are helpful to the students (Pulverness, 2004: 28).Textbooks are meant to mainly facilitate foreign language learning, they are also expected to include some topics concerning the culture of the language so as to fully equip the leaner with every aspect of the language. For students to become fluent in the target language, they have to be competent in their communication level. Textbooks cover the social behavior of the target group, the routines and values. Textbooks also refer the students to other textbooks so that they can add more knowledge concerning the language and the culture. According to Skopinskaja (1992), there are local textbooks and those meant for international use. Textbooks produced globally are intended for the global market, and they have to be appealing as possible. This kind of textbooks usually focuses cultures and the rate of international meetings so that it can favor all the learners internationally. These textbook are usually written by native speakers. Locally produced textbooks are usually produced by non-native writers, and they are usually written with the guidelines from the Ministry of Education of a certain country. The local authors introduce the target culture in a local perspective and various unique aspects of the culture as well. Knowledge, sociocultural competence, and attitude should be incorporated in the textbooks. This three aspects must be related to each other so that they can reflect the situations are happening daily in life. 

According to Camillery, Fenner in Newby (2000:154) “gaining knowledge usually happens simultaneously with the ability to use this knowledge and develop attitudes related to it” Written or oral texts, photographs and maps can be used to pass cultural information. For a learner to gain social-cultural competence, he/she should gain the knowledge first concerning the target language. There are various approaches to gaining social, cultural competence but since it is a process, the process approach should be used to develop it. According to Pulverness, comparative method is important in the learning process. Many scholars also recommend this process as it incorporates analysis, comparison, and contrast which should be included while treating cultural contents in the textbooks (Pulverness, 2004). According to Newby (2000), there are a variety of activities and errands which intends to assist the students in developing social-cultural competence and the general foreign culture.

 It is considered that when a person learns a foreign language which is usually a universal tool, the person is said to develop oneness and is in a better understanding of other cultures. On the contrary, foreign learners usually develop various stereotypes concerning the target culture. Textbooks usually play a good role of challenging the stereotypes of the learners’ target and own culture making them subject to discussion by the learners. Also, textbooks ask the students to complete various assignments which needs them to associate themselves with people from the target culture. This will help the learners in creating cultural awareness through the help of the members of the target culture (Newby, 2000: 142). While many theorists encourage the use of foreign language text books, other theorists criticize their use. Pulverness sees textbooks as a possible threat as it restricts teachers from expressing their points of view concerning the target culture than that used by the text books. He encourages the teachers to go beyond the textbooks and offer the learners with additional materials which will introduce cultural differences and significance to the materials provided by the textbooks. 

The teacher has the freedom to diversify the contents available in the classroom up to the desired level. Pulverness says that the supplementary materials should either add more information concerning the missing cultural content the textbooks or help the students in comparing between their current cultures and the target culture (Pulverness, 2004: 28). Textbooks are facing critics since they are too artificial when presenting the target language. They lack authentic materials which lead to simplification of the target culture and displays unrealistic views as well. These textbooks do not display real-life situations thereby leading to stereotypic ideas by the learners. Alptekin (1993) says that foreign language textbook includes foreign subject matter and social construct which creates a misunderstanding to the learners due to lack of cultural schemata and it is the role of the teacher to give an explanation to the learners concerning this matter. O’Dowd criticizes various scholars who argue that many foreign language books are gender biased and have various forms of stereotypes. Other scholars suggests that some textbooks considers western values as being accepted internationally. In some textbooks there a substantial percentage of critics concerning various cultures, there are also other textbooks which provides the suggestions and guidelines for improving the situation. 

There is the need for constant interaction between the teachers and the students to discuss their cultural perspectives and those of the various textbooks so that all differences are understood clearly. Cortazzi and Jin demand the textbook authors to broaden the cultural content covered and show the available intercultural contents which discusses broadly the difference in cultural interpretation. There is a detailed list which evaluates the various cultural contents is also provided by Sercu (1998, in ibid) but it portrays some limitations as it does not discuss the skills which the students are supposed to obtain in the end. In order for a textbook to be effective, it have to display various factors such as role-plays, project works among other activities which will help the students in analysing a cultural content document, conduct an ethnicity research and  come up with various values and norms of the said culture.

6.2 Other resources

Authentic materials should be used appropriately by both the learners and the teachers to achieve the desired goals. Commonly, authentic materials are used with higher level students, but even the lower level students can be encouraged to use it. Younger children should be taught traditional songs, riddles, and rhymes (Ellis, 2003). Authentic materials include newspapers, literature, web pages, TV broadcasts, films and written materials in the target language. This material is used by learners across all levels provided they are graded according to the learners’ abilities and interests (Newby, 2000). Authentic materials help the learners in improving their general skills of the language and help them gain confidence as they associate themselves in real situations.

Many aspects which the students will not find in the textbooks are usually present in the newspaper.  In the newspapers, there are so many cultural interferences which can easily discourage the students. Teachers are advised to guide the students closely when using newspapers when learning. On the newspapers, good cultural insights can befound on the headlines and on the contents as well. In the comic page especially, the hilarity found is usually revealing and helps the students a lot in associating with the new culture. Through reading the newspaper, learners acquire a lot from the target language as well understand the role the newspaper plays in informing, advising, helping and entertaining the people of the target language socially (ibid. 135-136). Literature acts as a bridge between culture and language in foreign classrooms where the students lack direct contact with the target culture. It also serves as a rich source of authentic language. Literature also enables the students to see the perception of the nation view broadly enabling the students in gaining perceptions of the target language and the people associated with it (Valdes, 1986: 138). Valdes goes ahead and says that according to her literature are a viable component in foreign language classroom. According to her, literature is written for the educated audience, and it intends to represent life as is in the real world. The teaching of literature should start from the lower levels up to the advanced learners. Readers are advised to use lower levels of literary works, but the teachers are advised this simplified works are not good for teaching literature and they should not recommend them. The other role played by literature in the classrooms is to present the values which portray the behavior of the characters and the main aims of the authors. Students are required to understand the given materials. There are various concepts in every cultural group which are usually considered as a “consensus” (ibid) instead of being universal. A teacher should understand these values and then present them to the students through selecting a literary work which the teacher is interested in, and it is appropriate to the students and include it in the teaching process. 

Children should be provided with authentic literature resources as they provide them with a rich resource of learning the culture as it have a lot of information. According to Ellis and Brewster (2003: 16), the categories include: songs, linguistic, music, geographical, and rhymes.

In foreign classrooms, it is important to include poems and plays. Poems should be read aloud, and the teacher should try and explain all the views concerning an issue (Valdes 1986:145). Many times plays are easy, but the literary works in them is very demanding. It is the purpose of the teachers to guide the students in revealing the ethos in work. Movies and series provide various aspects of culture and also accommodate various activities done in classrooms. One can purchase very nice filmstrips which have culturally related contents. Also, there are various slides collected by teachers on their various travels and can be used cultural presentations since they are not altered.

Students are usually motivated by videos, and they tend to understand more and faster when they learn using them. Videos are useful when the students want to learn more about a topic; it also helps them in making cross-cultural comparison easily as it is memorable and stimulating. After viewing a video, students are requested to write down various cultural differences they have observed which are different from their local culture and the similar things such as cars, clothes, and food. They then form discussion groups and discuss the difference and the similarities observed (McKinnon, 2005).


It is evident that language and culture goes together. This means that when you separate the two, you lose the meaning of both. If one is removed, the other one remains incomplete. When teaching students in the EFL or ESL classrooms, the culture associated with English should also be taught so that they can learn the language as well as the cultural background associated with it. According to observations made, students who perform very well in their English class found it hard to associate themselves with the native speakers of the language. This is due to lack of knowledge of the cultural background and awareness concerning the culture was not created when the learner was being taught. The role of culture cannot be avoided by authors when designing the ESL/ EFL courses. Cultures plays major roles in our societies and teachers ought to always remember this and must be familiar with the cultural content of the topics they intend to use.


Alptekin, C. 2002. ‘Towards intercultural communicative competence in ELT’.ELT Journal 56/1: 57 – 64.

Alptekin, C. 2005. ‘Dual language instruction: Multiculturalism through a lingua franca’. TESOL Symposium on Dual Language Education: Teaching and Learning Two Languages in the EFL Setting. September 23, 2005. Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Byram, M. & Flemming, M. (Eds.) 1998. Language Learning from an Intercultural Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. B. B. (Ed.), The Other Tongue: English across Cultures. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

  1. Kramsch. (1988). The Cultural Discourse of Foreign Language Textbooks.  In: A. Singerman, ed. Towards a New Integration of Language and Culture. Middlebury, VT: Northeast Conference: 63 – 68. 

Choudhry, R. (2017). Express, an International Journal of Multi Disciplinary Research. [online] Express Journal. Available at: [Accessed 4 Oct. 2017].

Cook, V. 1999. ‘Going beyond the native speaker in language teaching’.TESOL Quarterly 33/2: 185 – 209.

  1. Buttjes. (1990). Teaching Foreign Language and Culture: Social Impact and Political Significance. Language Learning Journal, (2): 55 – 57. 
  2. Brown. (1990). Cultural Values: The Interpretation of Discourse. ELT, (1): 11-17. 

G.L. Brooks. (1964). Varieties of English. London: Macmillan: 45. Express,an International Journal of Multi Disciplinary Research ISSN: 2348 – 2052, Vol. 1, Issue 4, April 2014 Available at:

Jenkins J. 1996. ‘Native speaker, non -native speaker and English as a Foreign Language: time for a change’. IATEFL Newsletter 131:10-11.

Jenkins J. 2000. The Phonology of English as an International Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, J. 2002. ‘A sociolinguistically based, empirically researched pronunciation syllabus for English as an international language’. Applied Linguistics 23/1: 83-103

Jenkins, J. 2005. ‘ELF at the gate: The position of English as a lingua franca. Humanizing Language Teaching 7/2. Retrieved February 23, 2006,

Kachru, B. B. 1985. Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: The English language in the outer circle. In R. Quirk & H. G. Widdowson (Eds.), English in the World:Teaching and Learning the Language and Literature (pp. 11-30). Cambridge,England: Cambridge University Press.

Kachru, B. B. 1986. The Alchemy of English. USA: University of Illinois Press.

Kachru, B. B. 1997.‘World Englishes and English-using communities’. Annual Review of 8 Applied Linguistics 17: 66-87.

Kachru, B B. & Nelson C. L. 1996. ‘World Englishes’. In S. L. McKay and N. H. Hornberger (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language teaching (pp.71 -102). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kramsch, C. & Sullivan P. 1996. ‘Appropriate pedagogy’. ELT Journal 50/3: 199-212

Llurda, E. 2004. ‘Native teachers and English as an International language’. International

Journal of Applied Linguistics 14/3: 314-23.

  1. Luce & E. Smith. (1987). Toward Internationalism: Readings in Cross – cultural Communication. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Newbury House. 

McKay, S. 2003. ‘Teaching English as an international language: The Chilean context’. ELT

Journal 57/2: 139- 48.

Modiano, M. 2001. ‘Linguistic imperialism, cultural integrity, and EIL’. ELT Journal

55/4: 339-46.

Prodromou, L. 1992. ‘What culture? Which culture? Cross cultural factors in language

learning’. ELT Journal 46/2: 127- 144.

Rajagopalan, K. 2004. ‘The concepts of “World English” and its implications for ELT’. 

ELT Journal 58/2: 111-17.

Seidlhofer, B. 2001. ‘Closing a conceptual gap: the case for a description of English as a

lingua franca’. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 11/2: 133- 58.