The treatment of culture in the foreign language curriculum: an analysis of national curriculum documents

Evgenia Lavrenteva, Lily Orland-Barak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Teaching culture in the foreign language classroom has been widely debated ever since its importance was recognized. Current research suggests that centralized ‘top down’ curricular policies can become potential constraints to teaching culture and points to the need for adapting curricula for culture-integrated language learning. This study analysed official curriculum documents published in 14 different countries to identify how the sociocultural component to Teaching English as a Foreign Language is reflected in the document. To date, there is scarce research on the place of culture in English as a Foreign Language curricula; hence, the present study aims at filling in a gap in this area. The study points to the following findings: curricula state the importance of culture in language learning and promote an integrative view of teaching language and culture; cultural objectives focus on appreciating cultural diversity, raising cultural awareness and reinforcing students’ positive cultural identity; teachers are portrayed as facilitators (rather than transmitters) of cultural knowledge yet, learners are described as acquiring (rather than discovering) cultural knowledge; curriculum documents focus on cultural knowledge and attitudes towards foreign cultures, rather than on the skills needed for successful interaction. These findings are elaborated and discussed, with potential implications for practice.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)653-684
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Curriculum Studies
Volume47
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2015

Keywords

  • culture
  • curriculum
  • foreign language teaching
  • language

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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