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Culture In Foreign Language Teaching And

Learning Education Essay


Published: 23rd March, 2015

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It is known to all that language and culture are inseparable. Language itself makes
no sense and has no meaning outside the cultural setting in which it is spoken.
They are intricately interwoven with each other. Some people believe that the
knowledge of other cultures is as important as proficiency in using their language.
In the EFL (English as a foreign language) teaching, great attention should be paid
to teaching culture of the target language as well as to teaching linguistic
knowledge. Culture introduction should be integrated with language teaching in
many aspects and at multiple levels so that learners' intercultural communicative
skills can be enhanced.

Byram (1989) states: "as learners learn about language, they learn about culture

as they learn to use a new language, they learn to communicate with other
individuals from a new culture." The problem is that the mastery of vocabulary and
structures does not necessarily ensure a person's communicative competence.
What the students really need is to be taught directly what people say in particular
situations in the English culture. The knowledge of culture has a great impact on
learners' language use and sometimes directly influences the outcome of
communication with native speakers. Most language teachers would agree that in
order to apply language skills fruitfully and effectively, the knowledge of cultural
environment is essential. So it is not difficult to understand why the culture
component is so crucial in foreign language teaching.
First, successful intercultural communication entails a great deal that is more than
language skills, understanding a second language does not ensure understanding
the speaker's intentions. That is to say, the ability to communicate successfully with
native speakers depends not only on language skills but also on comprehension of
cultural habits and expectations.

Second, another principal reason for the inclusion of culture in the second
language curriculum is cross-cultural understanding. International understanding is
seen as one of the basic goals of language education. It is equally important to
understand the differences among the various subcultures within which people of
different races, religions, and political beliefs live together peacefully. Peace and
progress in a world of diverse elements no doubt depend upon understanding,
tolerance, exchange and cooperation. Foreign language study is one of the core
educational components for achieving this widely recognized aim. Whether or not
the foreign language learning and teaching are successful counts on how much
cultural and linguistic information the students can get. The third reason deals with
the students themselves. On one hand, curious students may be extremely
interested in the people who speak English, they want to know about these people-
what they are like, how they live and how they are different from themselves. On
the other hand, students' knowledge of the basic aspects of target culture tends to
be inexplicit and incomprehensive if they have not been provided with systematic
knowledge in schools. And language teachers have to admit that many students
are not gaining a basic familiarity with the English culture, because even though
language and culture go hand in hand in a classroom, some teachers choose to
neglect culture and students scarcely pay due attention to it since they do not have
to take a test of culture.

Overall, foreign language teaching should help students lay a solid foundation of
language, grasp good learning techniques, cultivate their cultural awareness so as
to meet the needs of social development and economic construction. English as
the foremost medium of international communication at present, is called upon to
mediate a whole range of cultural, cross-cultural concepts thus make English
language teaching a potentially more and more significant role than ever before
and English culture teaching is coming or will come to the foreground.

Definition of Culture
Then what is culture? Duranti defined as "something learned, transmitted, passed
down from one generation to the next, through human actions, often in the form
of face-to-face interaction and, of course, through linguistic communication".
According to Sapir's view, "culture may be defined as what a society does and
thinks...". On a general level, anthropologists define culture as the whole way of life
of a people or group. In this context, culture includes all the social practices that
bond a group of people together and distinguish them from others. It is that fact of
human life learned by, people as a result of belonging to some particular group; it
is that part of learned behavior shared with others. Not only does this concept
include a group's way of thinking, feeling, and acting, but internalized patterns for
doing certain things in certain ways.... not just the doing of them. Goodenough
(1981) summarizes the contents of culture briefly quoted below:

• The ways in which people have organized their experience of the real world so
as to give it structure as a phenomenal world of forms, their percepts and concepts.

. • The ways in which people have organized their experience of their
phenomenal world so as to give it structure as a system of cause and effect
relationships, that is, the propositions and beliefs by which they explain events and
accomplish their purposes.

• The ways in which people have organized their experience of their past efforts
to accomplish recurring purposes into operational procedures for accomplishing
these purposes in the future, that is, a set of grammatical principles of action and a
series of recipes for accomplishing particular ends.

Language and Culture

A language is a system of verbal and in many cases, written symbols, with
standardized meanings. Language is the outward manifestation of the spirit of
people: their language is their spirit, and their spirit is their language; it is difficult
to imagine any two things more identical. It enables people to store meanings and
experiences and to pass this heritage on to new generations. Through words, we
are able to learn about and from the experiences of others. In addition, language
enables us to transcend the here and now, preserving the past and imaging the
future; to communicate with others and formulate complex plans; to integrate
different kinds of experiences; and to develop abstract ideas. However, it is
impossible to overestimate the importance of language in the development,
elaboration, and transmission of culture.

The Relationship between Culture and Language

It is generally accepted that language and culture are related to each other.
Language is not only for communication between people who have their own
cultural norms, but as a mirror to reflect the world and people's view of the world.
Because of the need of international communication for economic technological
development among various countries, English is more and more used in different
countries and cultures for exchanging information.

Culture and language are related to each other, which is strongly advocated by
Byram, who has contended that cultural learning and language learning cannot
take place independent of each other (Byram, 1994). Culture is a complex concept
that includes language. Many theorists have expressed this point of view from
various perspectives. For example, Kramsch has made the point that the purpose
for learning a foreign language is "a way of making cultural statement" as well as
learning "a new way of making communication" (Kramsch, 1993) while other
theorists have attached great importance to culture for language understanding.
For instance, Byram has argued that only when the cultural context is understood
can the language rooted in the context be thoroughly comprehensible (Byram
1994).This point has found an echo with Brown:

Misunderstandings are likely to occur between members of different cultures;

differences are real and we must learn to deal with them in any situation in which
two cultures come into contact.

Language is an important part of culture as well. Byram has elaborated this idea in
one of his books: "Cultural studies in foreign language education as language
preeminently embodies the values and meanings of a culture, refers to cultural
artifacts and signal people's cultural identity." (Byram, 1989) Other theorists have
defined culture in such a way that language is put at the center of an account of a
particular culture. Brown has provided another such definition in which he
describes language as the most visible and available expression of a particular
culture. (Brown, 1987)

In sum, culture is related to language and vice versa. Culture would be difficult to
be transmitted from place to place and from generation to generation if there were
no languages, the principal carrier of values and meanings of a culture. Language
would be impossible to be understood without constant reference to the cultural
context, which has produced it. It may, therefore, be argued that culture and
language cannot be treated exclusive of each other in language teaching program.
In other words, it is necessary and more proper to teach both language and culture
in an integrated way. It is worthy of noting here that one of the practices of
integrating the two is to use the target language as the medium of instruction in
culture teaching. Goodenough states the relationship between language and
culture in his book Culture and Linguistic. He argued language in a society is one
aspect of the society's culture. The relationship between them is the part and the
whole. As a component part of culture, the particularities of language show that it
is a main tool of learning culture during the process of learning and using
(Goodenough, 1981).

The Relationship between Language Learning and Culture

Just as there is not a single thing in the world without a dual nature, so is language
teaching. Language teaching and culture teaching have a dual nature. In order to
conduct language teaching well, one must take up the teaching of culture and the
teaching of language at the same time.

When we learn a foreign language, we do more than learn a linguistic system. We

acquire some degree of familiarity with the foreign cultural system.

It is now broadly accepted in most parts of the world that learning a foreign
language is not simply mastering the grammar, the vocabulary, etc, but more
appropriately focuses on learning a means of communication. Communication in
real situations is never out of context, and because culture is part of most contexts,
communication is rarely culture-free. The same word, if used in different culture,
would get different psychological response. When reading the sentence "It's
morally hard to turn her away as it is a lost dog", most students put "a lost dog"
into literal meaning which totally shows our feeling of disgust and dislike for the
dog. But it is not the case in western countries. In the western culture, dogs are
regarded as faithful friends and companions. So the actual meaning of "the lost
dog" here means something precious, valuable and favorite is lost. If you know the
actual implication of it, your sympathy can be aroused. It's obvious that neglecting
the cultural difference results in the misunderstanding. Therefore, it is necessary to
learn how to understand and create language that is in accordance with the
sociocultural parameters of the specific situation, because failure to do so may
cause users to miss key points that are being communicated in either the written or
the oral language and have their messages misunderstood.

Language Teaching and Intercultural Communication

Samovar, Porter & Jain(1981) observe: Culture and communication are inseparable
because culture not only dictates who talks to whom, about what and how the
communication proceeds, it also helps to determine how people encode messages,
the meanings they have for messages, and the conditions and circumstances under
which various messages may or may not be sent, noticed, or interpreted... Culture is
the foundation of communication. The term intercultural is generally used to
describe comparative data and studies of a large number of cultures, or studies
that try to identify dimensions that are not culture specific. Intercultural is also used
to describe interactional data from members of different cultural backgrounds
(normally more than two). Then what's the meaning of intercultural

Maureen Guirdham points out that intercultural communication is communication

across cultures, it describes cultural dimensions applicable for all cultures. She
believes that "Intercultural Communication skills may well hold the key to solving
many of the current global conflicts". In a speech at the Luton Intercultural Forum,
she outlined her views as to how people trained in Intercultural Communication
could help to resolve current conflicts such as the Balkan conflict, the Middle East
crisis and many more. In her speech, she outlined that most modem conflicts--such
as Israel--Palestine conflict, the conflict between Pakistan and India and others--are
essentially intercultural conflicts and that conflict resolution mainly is a
communication activity. Let's come to some key points of intercultural

When communications cause conflict, be aware that problems might have more to
do with style or process than with content or motives.

Learn to understand different communication styles---you could even benefit

through expanding your repertoire.

Communicating across cultures requires extra effort. Good communication requires

commitment and concentration.

Although culture affects differences in communication patterns, there are many

exceptions within each group depending on class, age, education, experience, and
personality. .

Remember that communication is a process and the process varies among cultures.
Look at what might be getting in the way of understanding. Constantly ask, "What's
going on here?" and check your assumptions.

Avoid jokes, words or expressions that are hot button, such as those that are based
on ethnicity, race or gender.

Use language that fosters trust and alliance.

Respect differences; don't judge people because of the way they speak.

7. Intercultural Communication
A simple way to define the term intercultural communication is to use the
definition of communication that was provided in the previous section and insert
the phrase "from different cultures". This addition would yield the following
definition: Intercultural communication is a symbolic process in which people from
different cultures create shared meanings. This definition, although accurate, is
difficult to apply.

To foreground the importance of interpersonal communication in intercultural

exchanges, we prefer the following definition: Intercultural communication is
concerned with unmediated communication between people from different cultural

Differences in interpersonal perception and attitudes to social involvement are also

important factors in intercultural communication. Intercultural communication:
Face-to-face communication between people from different cultural backgrounds.

As inhabitants of the 21st century, we no longer have a choice about whether to

live and communicate in a world of many cultures. The forces that bring other
cultures into our life are dynamic, potent, and ever present. What does this great
cultural mixing mean to EFL teaching? What competence should foreign language
learners have to meet the need of communicating appropriately and effectively in
such a world? The answer is that EFL teaching should cultivate learners' intercultural
communicative competence.

8. Intercultural Communicative Competence

Intercultural communicative competence (ICC) is defined in a great number of
studies as the competence to obtain effective outcomes in intercultural
communication situations. In the past few decades, ICC has become an important
research area in intercultural communication studies, and produced a considerable
amount of literature.

ICC is related to such competence as distinguishing the cultural factors, because

these things will surely have their reflections in a practical communicative situation
and thereby exert much influence upon the understandings.

With the gradual awareness of the importance of the communicative competence,

we are sure that in EFL, more and more teachers will place their emphasis upon the
improvement of ICC, and develop their students' intercultural communicative
competence as well as the linguistic competence at the same time,
In the paragraphs above, we have introduced the definition of Intercultural
Communicative Competence. Quite often, we know that studies on ICC are driven
by practical needs such as sending personnel abroad to perform political and
commercial tasks. Thus ICC is defined by the outcomes, or the effectiveness of
achieving these goals, the main purpose of ICC studies, therefore, is to identify
components of "effectiveness" on the one hand, and its "predictors" on the other,
Two major effectiveness components are "task performance" and appropriateness"
of behavior in the target culture. The predictors of effectiveness identified include
ambiguity tolerance, cognitive complexity, good conversation skills, intercultural
training, etc.

In sum, the current ICC studies are characterized by the centrality of effectiveness.

goal-attainment, and individual control. Underlying this package of practice is the

assumption that communication is under the control of the individual; if he or she
has the necessary personal dispositions and skills, then the pre-determined goals
of communication will be achieved. The above view holds the idea that ICC is within
the individual. Competence will develop or occur in relational contexts, yet without
the internal potential of the individual, there is no "relationship". But this view has
perhaps to some extent overlooked the internal qualities of the communicators.
Maybe "task-performance" takes the essential position in most models. Other
factors such as appropriateness or individual cultural adjustment all pave the way
for task performance. As a matter of fact, the primacy of task performance is
evident in the very definition of ICC.

Intercultural communicative competence deals with questions related to an issue


characterized by the terms culture-specific, context-specific, and culture-general,

which are the various approaches to the study of intercultural communicative
competence. 1) The culture-specific, method assumes that the most effective way
to improve intercultural communication is to study that culture. For example, if you
were going to Japan, you might benefit from advice about gift giving, the use of
first names, greeting behavior, indirect speech, politeness, the use of business
cards, the importance of group harmony, social stability, and the like. 2) In a
practical intercultural communication, the only way of culture-specific is not
enough, people should know what to do and how to do in a real situation, then
context-specific is also needed. In recent years scholars have begun to talk about
not only the specific cultures, but also the context or setting of the intercultural
encounters. Studies have been made to explore the business, educational, and
health care settings as a way of assessing the impact of the environment on
communication in a broad way. 3) The third approach is culture-general. What has
been suggested here is that regardless of the culture you are encountering, it is
important to have knowledge of the person's culture and try to adapt whenever
possible. What we have discussed can be found in most intercultural experiences.
This is what we mean by culture-general. That is to say, look at universal skills that
can be used in all cultures.

How to improve intercultural communicative competence? According to Samovar

& Porter (1988), that is to know yourself. Although the idea of knowing yourself is
common. while knowing yourself is crucial to improve intercultural communication.
We know we can write the words "know yourself" with ease, but it will take a great
deal of effort to translate this assignment into practice. The application of knowing
yourself covers three directions: first, know your culture_ because everyone is the
product of their culture, people are "cultural beings" and must be ever vigilant to
the impact of one's own cultural. Second, know your perceptions. Knowing your
likes and dislikes, the degrees of personal ethnocentrism enables you to detect the
ways in which these attitudes influence communication. And third, know how you
act on those perceptions. The third step in knowing yourself is to know your
communication style, which is somewhat more difficult, because it involves
discovering the kind of image you portray to the rest of the world. If you are to
improve your communication, you must, therefore, have some idea of how you
present yourself, since it will take a hard time understanding why people respond
as they do, and people's most take-for-granted behaviors are often hidden behind
their consciousness. (Samovar & Porter, 1988)

8. Cultural Knowledge and Cultural Competence

Knowing the contents of cultivating ICC, we need to discuss the concept of cultural
knowledge. It includes two parts: cultural competence (belonging to the category
of proficiency objectives) and conceptual knowledge (belonging to the category of
cognitive objectives) about the target culture. The conceptual knowledge about the
target culture refers to the systematic conceptual knowledge about the target
culture and society and it should include the target society's geography, history,
institutions, religions, economy, education and arts and so on. This conceptual
knowledge about the target culture is often referred to as the general knowledge
of the target culture.

Cultural competence refers to implicit mastery of the norms of a society, the

unspoken rules of conduct, values, and orientation that make up the cultural fabric
of a society. It also includes the ability to recognize culturally significant facts, and
knowledge of the parameters within which behavior is acceptable or unacceptable.
Cultural competence does not necessarily mean conformity to these norms and

Cultural competence is the same as communicative competence in many aspects.

Communicative competence (the term discussed before) also implies knowledge of
many aspects of society and culture: forms of address, choices of register and style,
differences between social and regional dialects, and the social values attached to
these differences. These items refer to characteristic features of the culture. In
language teaching, for instance, communicative competence includes certain
aspects of sociocultural information. To a certain extent, however, cultural
competence is different from communicative competence in that it refers mainly to
social and cultural behavior and facts, and less to their linguistic manifestations.

To be successful in the intercultural communication, both linguistic competence

and cultural competence are needed. The appearance of disharmony,
misunderstandings and even conflicts in communication is largely due to a lack of
cultural competence. In the century of the global intercultural communication, the
goal of foreign language teaching has to be changed. A shift should be made to
the cultivation of intercultural communication competence.

9. Arousing Students' Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness is the term used to describe sensitivity to the impact of
culturally induced behavior on language use and communication. It refers to an
understanding of one's own and other's cultures that affect how people think and
behave. It deals with geographical knowledge, the knowledge about the
contributions of the target culture to world civilization, the knowledge about
differences in the ways of life as well as an understanding of values and attitudes in
the second language community. Cultural awareness includes understanding
commonalities of human behavior and differences in cultural patterns. It must be
viewed both as enabling language proficiency and as being the outcome of
reflection on language proficiency.

Intercultural communicative awareness means the sensibility to the impact of

culturally induced behavior in communications across cultures. It involves the

ability to identify cultural diversity and develop empathy (to see things from the
point of view of others). On a less transparent level, intercultural awareness might
be as simple as becoming aware of cultural differences as they apply to the use of
"yes" or "no". For instance,, knowing that in the American culture, people tend to
be more direct and avoid roundabout answers, we would not make a reply like
"Please don't bother", to the host's question "Do you like some more potato
soup?" instead, we would respond by saying "Yes, please." if we really want some,
or "No, thank. you." if we think we have had enough of it. A person's socio-cultural
knowledge restricts how he exploits his linguistic potential. It is generally believed
that if a person lacks socio-cultural knowledge relevant to the target language, a
person can hardly use a language accurately and appropriately and be an effective
intercultural communicator.

Cultural awareness teaching should be involved with viewpoints, and with allowing

students to gain a perspective through comparison which is neither entirely one

nor the other. In the process of comparison from two viewpoints there lies the
possibility of attaining leverage on both cultures, and thereby acquiring an
intercultural communicative competence. With the coming of more chance for
Chinese to interact with English native-speakers, a fund of knowledge about target
culture can to a large extent, guarantee an effective intercultural communication.
Therefore, arousing cultural awareness becomes an indispensable part in foreign
language teaching and learning.

In teaching cultural awareness, Ned Seelye provides a framework for facilitating the
development of cross-cultural communication skills. The following goals are a
modification of his "seven goals of cultural instruction".

To help students to develop an understanding of the fact that all people exhibit
culturally-conditioned behaviors.

To help students to develop an understanding of social variables such as age, sex,

social class, and place of residence, the ways in which people speak and behavior.

To help students to become more aware of conventional behavior in common

situations in the target language.

To help students to increase their awareness of the cultural connotations of words

and phrases in the target language.

To help students to develop the ability to evaluate and refine generalizations about
the target culture, in terms of supporting evidence.

To help students to develop the necessary skills to locate and organize information
about the target culture.

To stimulate students' intellectual curiosity about the target culture, and to

encourage empathy towards its people.
In integrating English culture awareness into teaching, there are two problems we
need to consider, the first problem to be tackled is how to provide the cultural
information needed. The point regarding this problem is that second-language
teachers may attempt to teach culture when they are not equipped to do so
through no fault of their own. The other point is that even if they know how to
teach (through various techniques of presenting culture), without a definite
knowledge of what to teach (the culture content), they can hardly incorporate
various activities geared toward the culture objectives into their classes. For one
thing, teachers need assistance in overcoming their lack of knowledge about the
second culture; for another, in the preparation and selection of teaching materials,
the culture content selected may sometimes be concentrated on the unusual, the
bizarre and the exotic characteristics of the culture. In order to avoid confusion and
misunderstanding, the teacher is advised to describe all aspects of the situation
instead of treating the cultural phenomenon in isolation, and present culture
content at a level or in a manner to which the students can attach some
relationship between the information and their own background experiences. Even
if teachers know what to teach and how to teach, there is still a problem
concerning finding time in the class period to include culture. The class time is
limited, so how much time should be spent teaching culture? Dwelling too much
on culture is not only a waste of time but also of no help to the students.

The second problem is that though most foreign language teachers do not deny
the importance of teaching culture, few teachers actively test whether students are
attaining their cultural goals. Teachers may incidentally attend to culture by
inserting ideas during the class period and subsequently fail to check students
comprehension of the context. Often students do not realize that the teacher is
attempting to teach aspects of the second language culture. One of the reasons for
this lack of awareness is that culture usually is not considered a fundamental
component of the class content. If culture is to be an important goal in the second
language class, it must be taught and tested systematically. Currently, the most
practical approach to testing culture is to test the facts. Objective tests and essay
tests may be used to test knowledge of facts and insight into cultural behavior.

The problems mentioned above mean a lot to second language teachers and

Undertaking the teaching of culture is far from being simple. In accomplishing this
task, the teacher has to be a generous knowledge imparter, an efficient time finder,
an amiable activity designer, a protean actor and an assiduous learner as well. As
for students, in the long run, they will benefit a lot from the culture learning
experience that helps them become successful cross-cultural communicators.
Undoubtedly, being a successful cross-cultural communicator is an exciting,
enjoyable and enriching experience that will open the doors to both personal
development and satisfaction. Therefore, the integration of English culture
awareness into teaching in China means a demanding and challenging task both
for English teachers and learners.

10. Developing Intercultural Understanding

Cultural understanding is the main part of cultural studies. It demands a detailed
analysis of cultures. The teaching of culture should lead students to experience
directly through contact with native speakers and through developing some sorts
of personal relationship with the target language community. In other words,
culture understanding involves, besides the cognitive, a social and affective
component. The main content of cultural understanding covers:

1) Understanding of daily life, including unfamiliar conventions, such as writing a

check or reading a timetable.

2) Knowledge of cultural connotations of words and phrases. The students should

indicate awareness that culturally conditioned images are associated with even the
most common target words and phrases.

3) Evaluating statements about culture, requiring the interpretation of the target

culture and the learners' own culture. The students should demonstrate the ability
to make, evaluate and refine generalities concerning the target culture.

4) The development of interest in understanding is toward the second culture. The

students should demonstrate intellectual curiosity about the target culture.

11. Culture Shock

While mentioning developing intercultural understanding, we should also say
something about culture shock, which stands in the way of hindering our
intercultural understanding. Culture shock is a common experience for a person
learning a second language in a second culture. The term was first introduced by
an anthropologist Oberg, he offers a detailed account of this phenomenon:
"Culture shock is precipitated by the anxiety that results from losing all our familiar
signs and symbols of social intercourse. These signs or cues include the thousand
and one ways in which we orient ourselves to the situation of daily life---Now these
cues which may be words, gestures, facial expressions, customs, or norms are
acquired by all of us in the course of growing up and are as much a part of our
culture as the language we speak or the beliefs we accept. All of us depend for our
peace of mind and efficiency on hundreds of these cues, most of which we are not
consciously aware."

Culture shock is caused by the anxiety that results from losing all our familiar signs
and symbols or social contacts. Those cues or signs include various ways: when to
shake hands and what to say when we meet people, when and how to give tips,
how to buy things, when to accept or refuse invitations, when to talk statements
seriously and when not. In this way, culture shock is thought to be a form of
anxiety. The individual undergoing culture shock reflects his anxiety and
nervousness with culture differences through any number of defense mechanisms:
repression, regression, isolation and rejection. These defensive attitudes speak of a
basic underlying insecurity that may encompass loneliness. anger, frustration and
self-questioning of competence. With the familiar clues of cultural understanding
removed, the individual becomes disoriented and alienated from the things that he
knows and understands.

We have known the fact that the main cause of culture shock is displacement from
our "home" culture. This lack of common experiences and familiar surroundings
creates varying degrees of consequences, all of these consequences would
obviously hamper intercultural communication, thus, coping with the problems and
anxieties associated with culture shock is quite useful in cultivating intercultural
communicative competence.

12. Overcoming Intercultural Communicative Barriers

Why is it that contacting with persons from other cultures is so often 'frustrating?
Sometimes rejection occurs just because the group to which a person belongs is
"different". In the international scene, it's appropriate at this time of major changes
to take a hard look at some of the reasons for the disappointing results of attempts
at communication. They are actually stumbling blocks in intercultural
communication. According to L.M. Barna (1992), there are several factors that can
easily cause misunderstandings. 1) Misunderstandings occur because of the
assumption of similarities. Many people natively assume there are sufficient
similarities among people of the world to make communication easy. They expect
simply that being human and having common requirements of food, shelter,
security, and so on makes everyone alike. Unfortunately, they overlook the fact that
the forms of adaptation to the common biological and social needs and the values,
beliefs, and attitudes surrounding them are vastly different from culture to culture,
2) Misunderstandings occur because of language differences. Vocabulary, syntax,
idioms, slang, dialects, and so on all cause difficulties. There are other language
problems, including the different styles of using language such as direct, indirect;
expansive, succinct; argumentative, conciliatory; instrumental, harmonizing; and so
on. These different styles can lead to wrong interpretations of intent and
evaluations among others. 3) Learning the language, which is considered by most
visitors to foreign countries as their only barrier to understanding, is actually only
the beginning. Since the nonverbal misinterpretations of observable nonverbal.
signs and symbols are a definite communication barrier. 4) Another cause of
misunderstandings is the presence of preconceptions and stereotypes_ Stereotypes
that we have discussed in the previous section are stumbling blocks for
communicators because they interfere with objective viewing of other people. They
are not easy to overcome because they are firmly established as myths by one's
own national culture. 5) Tendency to evaluate is another factor to arouse
misunderstandings. Rather than try to comprehend thoughts and feelings from the
worldview of the others, we assume our own culture or way of life is the most
natural. This bias prevents the open-mindedness needed to examine attitudes and
behaviors from the others' points of view. 6) High anxiety or tension, also known as
stress, is common in cross-cultural experiences due to the number of uncertainties
present. Moderate tension and positive attitudes prepare one to meet challenges
with energy. Too much anxiety or tension require some forms of relief, which too
often comes in the form of defenses, such as the skewing of perceptions,
withdrawal, or hostility. That's why it is considered a serious stumbling block.

Being aware of the above misunderstandings is certainly the first step in avoiding
them, but it isn't easy. For most people it takes insight, training, and sometimes an
alteration of long-standing habits or thinking patterns before progress can be

With the development of science and technology and the globalization of world
economy, the communication between various cultures has become closer and
more frequent. The intercultural communication has become one of the themes of
modern society, which calls for the emergence of culture teaching. The teaching of
culture should become an integral part of foreign language instruction. "Culture
should be our message to students and language our medium"(Peck, 1998).
Frontiers have opened and never before have nations come closer to one another-
in theory, at least. As a result, people from different cultures weave their lives into
an international fabric that is beginning to fray at the edges by virtue of
miscommunication and propaganda. In order to avoid this ignominious cultural
and political disintegration, and foster empathy and understanding, teachers
should "present students with a true picture or representation of another culture
and language"(Singhal, 1998). And this will be achieved only if cultural awareness is
viewed as something more than merely a compartmentalized subject within the
foreign language curriculum; that is, when culture "inhabits" the classroom and
undergirds every language activity.

In addition, English teachers must be capable of mastering the knowledge

contained in the teaching material completely and deeply. Mastering the
knowledge contained in the teaching material and the supplementary knowledge
was the minimum requirement of a good teacher. Besides, he must be good at
supplying the theory of education and teaching, give consideration to the student's
psychological characteristic and receptivity, choose the most appropriate teaching
method and make students master knowledge. Teachers should also train students'
internal motive of study. When students' curiosity and interest are activated, the
internal motive produced and the students will take the initiative in study. If they
are interested in the culture, media, customs and habits of foreign countries, their
internal motive will be stimulated. Therefore, an English teacher should try to
motivate them by all means.

In order to get good intercultural communicative competence, students should

possess cultural background information in their language learning process. They

can learn and practice the patterns of daily life in the target culture by participating
in the information-oriented activities in order to know about the current lifestyle in
the target culture and compare this lifestyle with that of their own to find the
similarities and differences. In this way, students can better prepare themselves for
the everyday communication they are likely to encounter, improve the skills needed
for effective communication, and enhance the cultural awareness and sensitivity.