On Why Do We Say That Language Teaching Is In Essence Culture Teaching?

Abstract: Language and culture are inextricably intertwined. If one wants to communicate with foreigners with proper language, he must learn about the language's culture in order to avoid misunderstanding. So culture teaching is very important in language teaching.

Keywords:: language culture communication

Because of different cultural background, there usually are some misunderstandings between two people whose native languages ??are different when they are talking, although their languages ??are exact. Language is part of culture. A language not only expresses facts, ideas or events which represent similar world knowledge by its people, but also reflects the people's attitudes, beliefs, world outlooks etc. Language played a major role in socializing the people and in perpetuating of culture, especially in print form.

Learning a language, not only phonetics, grammar, phrases and idioms should be mastered, but also how the people who speak this language value the world must be understood-that is culture. So we can say language teaching is in essence culture teaching. For example, 'zhishifenzi' and 'intellectual' have different meanings in their own cultural background. In China, 'zhishifenzi' usually includes university teachers, university students, doctors, engineers, translators and those who accepted high educations, even teachers in high schools are also 'zhishifenzi'. While in the USA or Europe, intellectual only includes university professors and those who have high academic position and university students are excluded. Therefore, because of different cultural background, we can not find every corresponding word in target language for every word. Different languages ??may reflect different cultures, different cultures entail different language expressions, idioms, proverbs and sayings and metaphors in different language, derived from different origins, also demonstrate cultural differences. There is a saying 'xia lian san fu, dong lian san jiu '.' San fu 'and' San jiu 'are compared with in very cold writer and in very hot summer or during the coldest and the hottest days. If they are translated into three fu and three nine, how can foreigners understand? Another example, a Chinese described a crowded swimming pool as 'zhi ma jiang zhu jiao zi' to his foreign friend but his friend could not understand at all, because he has never seen 'zhi ma jiang' and 'jiao zi'. If the westerners want to describe a very crowded place, they usually say 'It was packed like sardines'.

There are two words' cowboy 'and' hippies' in English but we can not find the Chinese words which have the same meaning. Because cowboy is related to American history and the legend of cowboy is romantic. If we translate it into 'mu tong 'or' niu zai ', some romantic thing may be lost. And that hippie is translated into' xi pi shi 'also can not express the characters of American youths at that time. Different groups, who have different languages, have different world views which are reflected in their languages. The aim of learning language is to communicate. And in communication, besides using exact language, we should also pay attention to the situation, the relation between the two communications and knowledge about social culture. So we must use the appropriate language in communication. It is clear that pragmatic error sometimes is more serious than grammar error. Therefore, appropriate language is very important and if you want to use it, you must know about culture, for example, a Chinese use the word ' lover 'to introduce his wife, which surprised foreigners, because lover in English has thesame meaning with' qing fu 'in Chinese. While' ai ren 'should be translated into husband or wife.Moreover, one thing or one concept may be expressed with one word in a language but in another language several words. For example, the words expressing relatives in Chinese are very difficult for foreigners. In English, sister can be used to call either 'jie jie' or 'mei mei' and brother can be used to call either 'ge ge' or 'di di'. Links to free download http://eng.hi138.com

As any linguistic sign may have denotative, connotative and iconic kinds of meanings, the same word in different languages ??may be entailed with different connotations. Therefore one must be careful in assuming that bilingual dictionary definitions give exact equivalents in meaning or that different languages ??always have words to express the same thing. For example, it is difficult for westerners to understand 'yin' and 'yang'. We can not find exact equivalents in English. In Chinese-English Dictionary, 'yin' and 'yang' are explained as follows, (in Chinese philosophy, medicine, etc.) yin, the feminine or negative principle in nature; yang, the masculine or positive principle in nature.

In a word, the aim of language teaching is teaching students learn how to use language and if one wants to achieve communicative competence, the language's culture must be learned about. Otherwise ignorance of cultural differences can create barriers in learning the target language and in communication . As a result, we can say language teaching is in essence culture teaching.


Young self-comparison with 2002 English and Chinese translation of Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
The Study of Language George Yule 2000 Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
Zhang Lianzhong 2004 English teaching English language and culture and the 'color word' emotional expression Chuqian contrast Links to free download http://eng.hi138.com

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