Culture Presentation in the Algerian English Foreign Language Classroom: The Case of Setif Secondary Schools, Algeria
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Culture Presentation in the Algerian English Foreign Language Classroom: The Case of Setif Secondary Schools, Algeria
pp 419-434

Mouloud Ait Aissa
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تتعلق هذه الدراسة بتقييم طريقة عرض المحتوى الثقافي في قسم اللغة الإنجليزية في الطور الثانوي في الجزائر حيث تهدف هذه الدراسة إلى فهم أراء الأساتذة في تدريس الثقافة، تقييم معرفة المتعلمين الثقافية، وتفحص الأنواع والفئات الثقافية في الكتب المدرسية اعتمدت الدراسة على منهج نوعي وكمي لمعالجة البيانات المشتقات من العينات. حيث أن الدراسة اعتمدت على طريقة الاستبيان للأساتذة والمتعلمين وتحليل المحتوي الثقافي مع الكتب المدرسية. أظهرت النتائج على أن طريقة عرض المحتوى الثقافي لا تساعد المتعلمين في التواصل في محيط تتعدد فيه الثقافات. وفي ضوء نتائج الدراسة أورد الباحث عدد من التوصيات لمعالجة أوجه القصور.  

الكلمات المفاتيح: الثقافة، الثقافة واللغة، الثقافة الكلية، الثقافة الجزئية، الثقافة المستهدفة، الثقافة المحلية

La présente étude porte sur l’évaluation de la présentation de la culture dans la classe d’Anglais comme langue étrangère dans le cycle secondaire algérien. Elle vise à comprendre les opinions des enseignants à l'égard de l'enseignement de la culture, à évaluer les connaissances des apprenants en matière de culture et à explorer les types et les catégories de culture dans les manuels scolaires. L'étude est menée à travers des approches qualitatives et quantitatives. Des questionnaires ont été remis aux enseignants et aux apprenants et une analyse de contenu a été faite sur les trois manuels scolaires“At the Crossroads”, “Getting Through” et “New Prospects”. Les résultats montrent que la présentation de la culture ne permet pas aux apprenants de communiquer dans des situations de communication interculturelle. De ce fait, des recommandations sont suggérées pour remédier aux lacunes.

Mots Clés : Culture, Langue Et Culture, Grand "C" Culture, Petit "C" Culture, Culture Ciblée, Culture Source

The present paper is concerned with the evaluation of the Culture Presentation in the Algerian EFL secondary school classroom. It aims at comprehending teachers opinions about culture teaching, assessing learners’ knowledge in culture, and exploring the types and categories of culture in the textbooks. The study is conducted through qualitative and quantitative approaches. Questionnaires are administered to both teachers and learners while a content analysis is operated on the three textbooks “At the Crossroads” for first year level, “Getting Through” for second year level and “New Prospects” for third year level. The results show that the Culture Presentation does not help learners to communicate in intercultural communication situations and henceforth recommendations are suggested to remedy the deficiencies.            

Key words: Culture, Language and Culture,Big “C” Culture, Small “c” Culture, Target Culture, Source Culture

Quelques mots à propos de :  Mouloud Ait Aissa

 University of Mohamed Lamine Debaghine Setif 2aitaissamouloud7@gmail.com

Introduction

In the world of today, there are many people who live in between cultures and languages and they interact over both cultural and linguistic borders. These new circumstances make all the educational systems recognize the importance of culture integration in the English Foreign Language “EFL” including Algeria. In other words, nowadays it is widely known that the process of EFL teaching and learning cannot be reduced to the direct teaching of linguistic skills. So the contemporary models of the communicative competence show that there is much more to do for teaching and learning a foreign language, and they include the vital component of culture integration (Bachman 1990; council of Europe, 2001cited in Zofia, 2008: 10).

The National Curriculum for English as a Foreign Language in Algeria issued by the National Ministry of Education encourages both teachers and learners to reach a fruitful interaction by bringing the real world situations into classroom environment under what is called Competency-Based Approach (Benarbia, Z. et al., 2005). With this in mind, the research assumes that Algerian educators have realized that structural approaches to EFL teaching and learning have produced structurally competent but communicatively incompetent learners because traditionally EFL has been taught in isolation from its communicative contexts. Additionally, there has been a growing awareness that linguistic competence does not ensure an adequate level of successful communication (Hu, 2002: 22). So, educators in Algeria have made a shift from linguistic approaches to communicative approaches as it is recognized that through the process of EFL in classroom, learners are encouraged to get involved in the construction of the world around them (Saez, 2002: 3). 

Based on the aforementioned contexts related to the developments of EFL teaching and learning which shape every moment the process of culture teaching and learning, the research problem came as a response to the researcher’s professional experience in the field of EFL teaching and to the factual data collected from a pre-questionnaire and informal interview with the teachers, learners and textbooks. In regard to this situation, the researcher aims to explore into depth of culture in the Algerian secondary school EFL classroom in relation to teachers’ opinions, learners’ knowledge, and textbooks contents. In relation to this idea, the present paper aims to develop the CP in the Algerian EFL secondary school classroom. More specifically, it aims to give an overview of the culture teaching in EFL teaching environment. Secondly, it seeks to provide an overview of the culture learning in EFL learning environment. Finally, to give an overview of the CP in the three in-use textbooks in terms of the relevant cultural materials that textbooks can provide and the cultural objectives that they can encourage.     

In this line of description, this study has generated three research questions for EFL teachers, EFL learners and EFL textbooks. So, it attempts to answer the following questions;

v     What are the teachers’ opinions towards CP in the Algerian EFL teaching classroom?

v     What are the learners’ opinions towards CP in the Algerian EFL learning classroom?

v     What are the types and categories of CP used in the three EFL in-use textbooks?                                                                                                  

1. Literature Review

1. 1. Definition of Culture          

The notion of culture occupies a central position in the field of human and social sciences. According to Hollins (2008: 18), “culture simply is a learned pattern of thought and behavior that are passed from one generation to another and are experienced as distinct to a particular group”. So it is a simultaneously action and a state of being towards everything around us as. Hollins also (2008: 18) points out that “culture is derived from understandings acquired by people through experience and observation about how to live together as a community, how to interact with the physical environment, and knowledge or beliefs about their relationships or positions within the universe”. So culture is about the question of who we are and how we exist in the world.

The most basic words that best define culture is that all the trends of defining culture seem limitless and perfectly working definition is that one best fits one particular purpose. The aim of stating all the previous definitions is to keep the process of defining culture as clear, simple, and meaningful as possible. It is imperative to organize thought and define culture according to those definitions that are pertinent to the context of CP in the Algerian EFL classroom setting. Since many EFL, teachers and learners are expected to have some personal, academic, and professional experience of dealing with more than one culture. As an example, at least, everyone has intentions to interact, deal, and communicate with people of other cultures other than theirs through the medium of English language.

1. 2. Language and Culture or Culture and Language

According to (Jing, 2010: 8) “language and culture are closely linked because language and culture are both integral parts of human life for communicating as supported by many scholars”. The nature of the relationship between language and culture is that; language determines thought and culture; language influences thought and culture; culture influences people’s language; and finally language and culture influence each other. He again advocates that language and culture are highly interrelated and suggest that language cannot be studied without incorporating its culture and culture cannot be studied in isolation from the language in which they are spoken. In this line, Jing (2010: 1) adds that they are inseparable and this state of affair is always taken into consideration when the question of English is raised.

According to Han (2010) “culture is something like making bread with butter in. it is named as butter bread. If butter is spread on the top of the bread, it is not butter bread” and “culture and language are twins, look very much like each other. People cannot easily distinguish who is who”. Brown (2000: 177) says more about language and culture “a language is a part of a culture, and a 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”. In other words, since language is regarded as a means of communication, this implies that it is the responsible one for cultural content’s transmission.

 (Ibid), states that the relationship between language and culture is a diverse and complex one. He believes that culture is an embodiment of the language and without cultures languages would not exist. The development of languages to their present form has been possibly only in close contact with the development of cultures. Nieto (2010: 146) comments more on this role and states that language is implicated with culture and it is an important part of it. In this respect, Kramsch (1993) states that culture as information caused by the language and the center of culture is an essential part of language proficiency. So, there is plenty of space to say about the relationship between language and culture.

1. 3. Types of Culture

1. 3. 1. Big “C” Culture

Great emphasis is put on distinguishing between cultural themes based on particular criteria. For Peterson (2004: 24), cultural themes can be ranked into two levels according to the importance scale. Big “C” culture is “the culture which represents a set of facts and statistics relating to the arts, history, geography, business, education, festivals and customs of the target speech community (Laohawiriyanon, 2012: 85). So any culture which focuses on the products and contributions to a society and its outstanding individuals, is often referred to as Large/Big/Capital/Macro “C” culture including politics, economy, history, literature, fine arts, sciences and geography (Jing, 2010: 5). (Lafayette, 1997) indicates those that fit the Big “C” category include recognizing geographical monuments, historical events, major institutions, and major artistic monuments. Wintergerst and Mcveigh (2010) support Brooks’ view and maintain that the domain of big “C” culture is for the highly educated people. This social class has the power to understand big “C” culture themes because their nature implies a kind of intellectual efforts.

1. 3. 2. Small “c” Culture

Small “c” culture is another aspect of cultural themes. It refers to the daily aspects of life that embody everything as a total way of life (Laohawiriyanon, 2011: 85). For Lee (2009: 78) this type of culture is “the invisible and deeper sense of a target culture” including attitudes and assumptions. Peterson (2004: 24-25) defines little “c” culture as the culture focusing on common or minor themes. It includes themes of the two types; the first one is the invisible culture such as popular issues, opinions, viewpoints, preferences and tastes, certain knowledge (trivia, facts). The second type is the visible culture such as gestures, body posture, use of space, clothing style, food, hobbies, music, etc. According to Lafayette (1997), the Little “c” culture includes recognizing and explaining everyday active cultural patterns such as eating, shopping and greeting people; every passive pattern such as social stratification, marriage and work; and acting appropriately in common everyday situations (Jing, 2010: 5).

So small “c” culture is not restricted to any particular social class but it is intended for all categories and individuals within any society. Little “c” cultural knowledge is essential for intercultural communication situations because it affects the ways of thinking and using a language. The socio-cultural values, norms, beliefs and assumptions entailed in small “c” culture assists members of a particular culture or society to use “appropriate and polite” language within the target society.

1. 4. Categories of Culture

Regarding culture related teaching-learning materials in EFL classroom in relation to textbooks, teachers and learners; the current research postulates that the CP in terms of categories of culture plays a crucial role in EFL classroom. This research is in agreement with Cortazzi and Jing (1999) models about the types of cultural materials with very slight modifications. They provide a novel look at the sources of cultural information and classify them as follows:

1. 4. 1. Source Culture

The source culture category refers to the learners’ native culture. It is represented in the present study by the Algerian National culture; Islamic and Arabic Nations culture altogether. Generally speaking, this category is produced at a national level for a particular given country. According to Jing (2010: 16), in seeking to learn EFL; learners generally expect that they will need to become familiar, more conscious, and understand their own culture. In the case of EFL Algerian learners, most of them have to pay attention to the culture of Algeria, Islamic North Africa and Islamic nation as one entity. This assumption generates a debate among scholars on whether the EFL teaching and learning should be related only to target culture or to other cultures. It appears that this debate would seem to warrant some degree of caution when using categories of culture in certain teaching and learning contexts. This situation raises this important question; is it fair to use one culture category at the expense of others?

The introduction of the source culture into the EFL classroom is as important as other cultures. According to Laohawiriyanon (2013: 84), the germane of source culture is to cultivate learners’ knowledge of their own culture. It is worth to mention that through the source culture, students will have a chance to learn about topics, themes, and vocabularies which are related to their native background in the target language so that they can interact successfully with people from different cultures. Though it is an important category, it is often criticized as there is no attempt to understand other cultures.

 

1. 4. 2. Target Culture

This category usually focuses on one or two target cultures, such as the U K and U S A. It is represented in this study by the cultures of the U S A and U K which are the countries where the target language is spoken as a first language “any English-speaking countries where English is spoken as a first language” (Ibid). It is also considered as the most popular instruction materials in EFL classroom Jing (2010: 16). They have focused on the use of the target language culture as a vehicle for teaching the language in classrooms and suggest that it is not really possible to teach a language without embedding it in its authentic cultural context.

The rationale for integrating target culture into EFL classroom lies in the fact that learning a target culture will enhance students’ motivation and develop their attitudes toward language learning. In addition, the use of target culture in the EFL classroom makes it possible for learners from different societies to make best use of the same cultural materials in such a context.

1. 5. Chronological Developments of the Aims of EFL Teaching and Learning

During the past hundred years a shift in emphasis in the overall aim of EFL education has taken place. Before the educational reform at the end of the ninetieth century, it was considered enough to have knowledge about a language. The changes occurring in the past century were slow. (Larzen, 2005: 32), the study of languages in the first third of the twentieth century, was closely linked to the field of philology. The language of text was the object of careful explication and interpretation in terms of the age and culture to which it belonged. Since language, literature and culture were closely connected, one could say that philology represented a genuinely interdisciplinary approach to the study of text.

Later on, the four language skills were highlighted as every language learners has to learn. Interestingly enough, these are still today listed as objectives in curricular documents. Meanwhile, however, the integration of the social dimension of language was still missing (Ibid) refers to such conditions as setting, communicative intention and the relationship between the interlocutors, as not significant to language education under the structural approach to language.

Later on, there was a new paradigm to language education which entailed a shift in the overall aim of EFL instruction from linguistic competence over socio-linguistic competence to communicative competence. Educators realized that it was not enough for the EFL learners to be able to produce structurally correct phrases and sentences if they lacked the skills of using and producing phrases and sentences in real communicative context. This was, thus, the time when language structures were replaced by lists of language functions in curricular texts (Ibid). These new circumstances gave birth to the “Communicative Competence”. This term is derived from Hymes (1972), but it has been applied into EFL education by introducing six partial competences which are linguistic, sociolinguistic, discursive, strategic, social, and socio-cultural competence

Van EK (1986) stresses that any EFL speaker cannot be regarded as communicatively competent unless he or she possesses a certain insight into the socio-cultural context which every language is an integrated part of, and which he adds to the list of CC. The latter concept consists of a set of knowledge and skills related to communication. The “communicative turn” in language teaching and learning, particularly in EFL, has in fact been criticized by Byram and among others, for emphasizing speech acts and discourse competence rather than cultural competence. However, the understanding of culture now starts to gain recognition as an important component of EFL studies.

As far as cultural dimension into EFL education is concerned, in the beginning, the term used for the cultural dimension was “background”, because the idea was to give learners some additional information about the target countries they were studying. Many attempts to teach and learn culture were followed by what was called “4-F approach”, focusing on folk-dances, festivals, fairs, and food (Larzen, 2005: 33). Step by step, the integration of culture into EFL education changed its focus from historical, geographical of sociopolitical bits and pieces about specific nations to a deeper analysis of ideas and values shared by the members of social groups.

They stress that the outcomes of teaching and learning languages and cultures should be the ability to see how different cultures relate to each other in terms of differences and similarities, and to act as mediators between them, or rather between people socialized into them. It is a question of being able to understand the perspective of others as well as to question one’s own perspectives. This mediation, according to Byram & Zarate (1997), also means being able to look at oneself from an “external” perspective when interacting with others and to analyze one’s own behavior as well as hidden values.      

1. 6. Culture in Relation to Teachers, Learners and Textbooks

Researches about the topic of teachers’ variable in EFL classroom suggest that a teacher should be a philosopher, geographer, historian, philologist, and literacy critic. To Altman (1981: 11-13), the teacher functions as a “skillful developer of communicative competence in the classroom”, dialectologist,” “value clarifier,” and “communication analyst”. And with reference to Kane’s (1991: 245-247) impressive “Taxonomy of Cultural Studies Objectives”, the teacher needs to be anthropologist and ethnographer, intercultural educator, and, of course, comparative sociolinguist mastering the both ins and outs of culturally determined linguistic variation. The empirical researches on the teacher’s role suggest that it is important for the teacher, within or outside of the classroom environment, to explicitly take on the role of culture educator and deliberately assist learners with their process of cultural analyses.  

In this respect, they argues that “positive attitudes” as the willingness of learners to seek out speakers of the target culture. In addition, researches on learners’ attitudes seem to gravitate around the notion of “contact” and its role in the embryonic stage of intercultural development and more studies show that “contact” improves attitudes rather than vice-versa. In this sense, it appears that favorable contact leads to the discovery of cultural similarities at particular and of the common humanity at large. In short, the working question within the learners’ variable in EFL culture-based contents then becomes how to help EFL learners move beyond this still ethnocentric stage of intercultural development and into the intercultural stages where acceptance of cultural differences are the norm of behavior.                  

It is agreed upon the idea that textbooks used in culture teaching-learning generally present a certain way of looking at the world, that is, through the cultural lens of the textbooks designers. Prior to the 1940s, many textbooks were written on the basis of mono-cultural perspectives. For Kramsch (1993), cultural elements were incorporated on the basis of their comparable importance in the home culture of the authors. Within the advent of the functional and communicative proficiency approaches in the 1970s, and all through 1980s, the textbooks viewed as snapshot, and only one of many, through which the culture could be understood (Ibid). The target culture was entering the classroom context via “authentic cultural materials.” Nonetheless, the main findings of studies concerning culture’s place in textbooks, in many respects, they still a problematical questions.                         

2. Research Methodology

2. 1. Research approach

In order to maximize the chance of collecting more reliable data and to minimize the chance of biased findings, it is nearly always best to try to use more than one method, participant, and approach. For this sake the present paper makes use of both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The latter method is a process in which the research uses two or more research methods to investigate the same phenomenon. On the other hand, data collected through triangulation can be seen as that process which uses multiple sources of data. An example of cross-checking data which have been collected using different methods is the comparison of questionnaire data with analyzed published documents. This research collects data from multiple sources in all classrooms’ elements “teachers, learners and textbooks”. To conclude, these two methods are used together as an effort to provide a complementary view of what is actually happening in the area of CP in the Algerian EFL secondary school classroom. Neither a quantitative nor a qualitative method in isolation would describe in depth what is really taking place in the context of the present study. The current research further chooses to include qualitative aspects to confirm the quantitative findings and provide deeper understandings.  

2. 2. Research Instruments “Questionnaires and Content Analysis”

In order to answer the first and second research questions of the paper, a questionnaire was employed to collect data from EFL teachers and EFL learners. The questionnaire is one of the common tools which are used to gather and describe the characteristics and opinions of the participants of the study. So it is the most appropriate tool since it can be administered and can gather sufficient and relevant data t the same time (Brown et al,. 1999: 99). The questionnaire were designed in terms of the relevant demographic information, participants’ opinions towards culture, cultural themes and categories, teaching and learning methods and objectives, and the intercultural dimension. Furthermore, Cortazzi and Jin (1999) framework helps to the construction of the learners’ questionnaire in relation to the categories of culture. Also Chen’s (2004) framework used also to construct questions which contribute to assess the learners’ knowledge in relation to types of culture.

Content analysisis the second research tool used in the present study. It can be described as the scientific study of content of documents. The term “content” denotes what is contained while the term “analysis” denotes breaking down the content into its components so that the organizational principles may be understood for evaluating the analyzed content (Denscombe, 2007: 236). So this tool addresses the culture presentation in the “At the Cross Roads”, “Getting Through”, and “New Prospects” textbooks.   

2. 3. Samples Selection Procedures “Teachers, Learners and Textbooks”

Reaching the aim of “generalization” cannot be possible without providing some demographic information about the participants. In other words, the selecting process of the respondents must be done in terms of arriving at a group of EFL secondary school teachers, learners and textbooks that would be heterogeneous within possible certain variables. To accomplish a strategic selection, the present paper has chosen the professional experience and training in culture as the main variables of the selection procedures. So the teachers’ participants are 60out of 300EFL teachers from Setif secondary schools.

Concerning the learners’ participants’ selection procedures, to maximize the range of perspectives on current secondary learning practices in Algeria, the learners’ survey is elaborated. Participants in the present survey are 120Algerian secondary school EFL learners from three different secondary schools in setif, Algeria. There are 30of them from the New Secondary School of Beni Mouhli, 35of them from Arezki Kettab “Beni Chabana” and 55from Ain Trick New, Setif. The sample selection procedures in terms of learners and schools were selected randomly. As for the selection of the learners’ population, the researcher believes that the participants can offer a better picture of the situation of CP in the Algerian EFL secondary school classroom. They are all Algerians and they all come from different socio-economic backgrounds. They are all learning English as one of the subject matters.

The three in-use EFL textbooks for the secondary school levels represent the sampling population of the content analysis survey. The following three EFL textbooks “At the Crossroads”, “Getting Through”, and “New Prospects” are written by Algerian authors who are appointed by the Algerian National Ministry of Education. They are designed in order to reflect the Algerian personality and aspirations. The present study intends to evaluate them in terms of the distribution of the CP to see whether it meets the likely outcomes or not. They are also divided into “5”, “8”, and “6” units respectively and each textbook is divided into “language outcomes”, “skills and strategies outcomes”. The selected textbooks are referred to in the table of data classification in relation to frequencies and percentages as follows: “T1for At the Cross Roads, T2for Getting Through and T3for New Prospects”.

2. 4. Data Collection Procedures

The questionnaire surveys of the present thesis are a group-administered questionnaire. The EFL teachers and learners are brought together at a common place and time, and each respondent is asked to complete the questionnaire. The respondents take their questionnaire’s sheet and they made free to enter their responses independently. This procedure is convenient for the researcher, and high response rates assured (Bhattacherjee, 2012: 74). This procedure is conducted with the help of an EFL inspector and teachers who takes in charge the process of explaining and handling the questionnaires. The researcher has chosen this procedure because; first, it saves more time ad efforts. Second, it is done instead of visiting each secondary school and handling questionnaires teacher by teacher. Finally, it facilitates the process since both the inspector and teachers have a direct contact with the samples of EFL and at the same time they have good relationship with them which, in return, makes the samples helpful.

2. 5. Data Analyses Procedures

The study produced both qualitative and quantitative data through questionnaires and content analyses. Frequencies and percentages were used to calculate ach question and item in order to describe the macro and micro pictures of how EFL teachers, EFL learners and EFL textbook rate the CP in the Algerian secondary school EFL classroom. The obtained data were analyzed as follows:

Ø     Data classification: in this step the data are ordered in tables and figures according to each question and item. The data also were organized on the basis of similar answers according to the nature of each question and item. This step helps the researcher to find ways of how to summarize the meaningless data and start to give some little meaning to them.

Ø     Data description: this stepinvolves the process of reading the data depicted in the tables and figures through frequencies and percentages. In short, this step is about explaining the data using words, expressions and statements instead of numbers and symbols. It joins the previous steps with the subsequent steps and contributes to add some more meaning to the data. In addition, in order to further describe the data, the researcher combines throughout the study the scale range “strongly agree with agree” to indicate the samples’ positive opinions and “strongly disagree with disagree” to indicate the samples’ disagreement, and keeps “undecided” for neutrality.

Ø     Joining the data with the research problem and questions: in this step, the data re connected with the research problem and questions by explaining the quality of the questionnaires’ questions and their items and their possible relationship to the data collected. This step examines whether the nature of the data contribute to answer the research questions or not. So it states the appropriateness of the questions and the research problem with the obtained data. All in all, this step adds more meaning to the dat.

Ø     Looking for justifications to the data: after defining relations among the data and the search steps, they will be connected with the main theory that gets from the theoretical framework. In this step, the multiple justifications of the data and how they agree or disagree with the previous research done in the dame area are sought. By this step, it can be considered that data are meaningful and are the right answers tot eh research questions and problem.

Ø     Writing the report: it involves all the previous steps such as writing the raw data, putting them in the right columns, describing frequencies and percentages, and analyzing them until they have clarity and meaning. The latter must always be checked with the main subjects of the research.             

3. Data Analyses

3. 1. Data from EFL Teachers

This section deals with the data generated by means of the questionnaire. It is an attempt to identify EFL teachers’ opinions, and attitudes towards culture presentation in the EFL classroom in relation with the act of teaching. It starts with the ways they interpret culture; their understandings to culture, what culture themes, types and categories they prefer to teach, what techniques they use, what teaching objectives assigned to culture and finally their attitudes towards the intercultural-based teaching.

Most detailed analyses were provided through five integrated sections; the first section was about a general picture of EFL teachers’ profile “professional experience” and “training in culture teaching along language teaching”. The second section dealt with data around teachers’ interpretations towards culture integration into EFL classroom. The data and analysis showed that most teachers hold positive attitudes towards culture teaching. Concerning the presentation of culture in EFL textbooks, the discussed data revealed that a clear preference that the distribution of culture does not correspond with the aspirations and hopes assigned to culture teaching. In the same line of description, the majority of the respondents viewed culture only through big “C” themes at the expense of small “c” themes.

The data and analysis showed that the teachers prefer to integrate the culture of English speaking countries with some more focus on big “C” cultural themes. Within this idea in mind, they support the claim that language teaching is about target culture teaching. At the same claim, a great number of teachers seemed to pay their attention to the source culture, and henceforth, support the claim that culture teaching should also reflect the native culture which reflects the philosophy of the educational system to which it belongs and that EFL teaching and training should enable learners to express themselves on topics related to their culture. To sum up, the teachers’ views about the right culture category revealed an important fact with EFL classroom which looks into how to elevate the level of learners’ cultural achievements by distributing the cultural categories in order to make learners able to understand and to be understood when they are engaged in intercultural communication situations.

The data concerning teaching methods, techniques, and objectives towards culture showed that teachers support more conventional approaches to EFL teaching. They are truly reflective of the current situation in EFL secondary school classrooms in Algeria. The informants clearly demonstrated that they teach culture only through the medium of the textbooks. This is the situation in Algeria where the textbook is the law code for teachers to follow and it seems to be the most available material for culture teaching. Consequently, the EFL teaching process is limited to the classroom environment, and henceforth, the action of brining the real-life situations into the classroom setting under the CBA are still ignored. Concerning the presence of culture in exams and evaluation process, most of the data revealed negative opinions on the basis that evaluation is based on grammar and vocabulary items; teachers have little freedom to select the contents of exams since they are strictly attached to the syllabus and the evaluation process is the likely outcome of the teaching process. In regard with the data related to the teachers’ attitudes towards the intercultural-based teaching, it is apparent by now that similar conclusions with the previous question can be drawn. There was always a presence of contradiction between theory and practice when most of them defended the idea of their willingness but with some constraints that would hinder the introduction of such a dimension.

On the basis of the findings, it can be assumed that the teachers’ answers exhibit more evidence that they understand well that culture teaching is a necessary issue to deal with but with a lot of practical obstacles. As a consequence, the researcher noticed a kind of dilemma that teachers face under this situation. Some teachers mentioned the lack of culture teaching materials, equipments, and crowded classes, limited time for culture, tests and exams requirements. These constraints should urge the National Ministry of Education to rethink deeply of how to reconsider the question of balance between the culture- based content and language-based contents in the EFL classes. By and large, it seems that the first main research question and its sub-questions are answered to some extent. Now it is time to consider the second research question with the analyses of the learners’ data.  

3. 2. Data from EFL Learners

The previous section dealt with the teachers’ survey data. It provided a detailed classification, description, and analysis of the data. Within this section, it is time to consider also the range of steps used with the learners’ data through the second questionnaire collected with 120learners selected randomly form 03secondary schools in Setif, Algeria.

The data are dealt with in terms of: (1) covering the organization of the data in tabulation and figures by using frequencies and percentages; (2) explaining the questions in terms of reasons and purposes; (3) describing of the data; (4) and analysing of the data. The first section was about a general picture of EFL learners’ in relation to the basic school learners’ profile “gender, region, and secondary school’. The second one describes learners’ opinions towards culture learning. Concerning the first question which is about language versus culture, the findings revealed that the learners were more interested in learning cultural aspects of the target language rather than learning about linguistic structures. In the same line of description, learners’ showed a more interest to learn culture with language and henceforth they recognize the connection between language and culture. So it seemed that they understood the process of learning English as learning about English Speaking Countries.

As far as learning strategies, the data demonstrated that the act of listening to the teacher when he speaks about culture is considered as the most used strategy. In this respect, the teachers’ role seemed to be of great importance for them. The teachers’ knowledge and experience about different cultures is widely used in culture learning because it is expected that teachers have heard and read about foreign cultures through other channels and, henceforth have become as one of crucial sources for learners to know about foreign cultures. Despite of the fact that the group of teachers do not have firsthand experience of other cultures and little chance to go abroad to experience foreign cultures themselves and do not have much to tell the learners (teacher data), they still capture learners’ confidence and satisfy them since they are the only professional people who are available in front of the learners to feed them with the cultural needs. Consequently, the action of brining the real-life situations under the competency based approach has not yet reached.

The data related to the learners’ knowledge about big “C” culture in relation to both target and non-target culture aimed to get into the participants’ opinions towards culture learning in the EFL learning environment. This section examines learners’ knowledge about politics, significance of flags, meanings of geography, space science, society norms, historical accounts, literary works, and national symbols. The data collected were analyzed in terms of surface and deep meanings of culture. The findings revealed that the scope of knowledge of most of the participants in the present survey is acceptable. The data analysis showed that most of the learners’ scores were above the average. This situation can be justified by the macro orientations of the National Education System of English teaching and learning in Algeria and the intervention of the traditional teaching methods over the newest ones. To conclude, the action of learning EFL in Algeria seemed to be more subjective in the case the question of big “C” themes of culture is considered.

           The data related to the learners’ knowledge about small “c” culture in relation to both target and non-target culture aimed to get into the participants’ opinions towards culture learning in the EFL learning environment. This section examines learners’ knowledge about food habits, eating patterns, culture of holidays, living styles, significance of time appreciation, quality of punctuality traits, and dealing with the invitation.  The data collected were analyzed in terms of surface and deep meanings of culture. The findings demonstrated that the scope of knowledge of most of the participants in the present survey is less than average. The data analysis showed that most of the learners’ scores were limited. The data showed that it is necessary to grant small “c” input more attention in the process of English teaching and learning. This is because the little input devoted for small “c” themes and topics offered by the Algerian National Ministry of Education did not help them to use their knowledge at intercultural communication situations. In which the latter takes place across a broad range of situations, from world-wide political issues on the international levels at large to ordering dishes on the individual levels at particular. By and large, it seems that the second main research question and its sub-questions are answered to some extent. Now it is time to consider the third research question and its sub-questions with the analyses of the textbooks’ data. 

3. 3. Data from EFL Textbooks

The previous section dealt with the learners’ survey data. It provided a detailed classification, description, and analysis of the data. Within this section, it is time to consider also the range of steps used with the textbooks’ data through the content analysis method dealt with the three textbooks in use. (See the following table for more details.

 


Type

of

Theme

Of  Culture

Target Culture

Non-Target Culture

Frequency

Percentage “%”

Frequency

Percentage “%”

T1

T2

T3

T1

T2

T3

T1

T2

T3

T1

T2

T3

 

 

 

 

C

Education

22

12

22

22

08.63

09.82

11

11

21

11

07.91

07.91

Architecture

05

/

/

05

/

/

/

/

05

/

/

/

Society N

03

04

04

03

02.87

01.78

03

02

05

03

01.43

01.43

Government

/

07

03

/

05.03

01.33

01

11

08

01

07.91

07.91

History

05

03

03

03

02.15

01.33

02

/

25

02

/

/

Literature

08

15

08

08

10.79

03.57

07

04

05

07

02.87

02.87

Music

/

04

04

/

02.87

01.78

/

/

/

/

/

/

Economy

02

12

18

02

08.63

08.03

03

14

33

03

10.07

10.07

Geography

10

06

11

10

04.31

04.91

05

09

11

05

06.47

06.47

 

 

 

c

Beliefs

02

02

05

02

01.43

02.23

/

03

07

/

02.15

02.15

Hobbies

03

01

/

03

00.71

/

02

01

01

02

00.71

00.71

Gestures

01

/

/

01

/

/

01

02

/

01

01.43

01.43

Food

01

01

08

01

00.71

03.57

01

02

06

01

01.43

01.43

Customs

/

/

/

/

/

/

/

04

01

/

02.87

02.87

Living S

/

01

02

/

00.71

0.89

02

06

06

02

04.31

04.31

Holiday

/

/

01

/

/

0.44

/

02

01

/

01.43

01.43

 

16

62

68

89

62

48.84

39.65

38

71

135

38

51.16

51.16

 


1. Distribution of Categories and Types of Culture throughout the Textbooks

The last section presents the range of steps of data analyses used with the textbooks survey. It deals with the data generated by the means of the content analysis tool. The sources of the data are the three EFL Algerian secondary school in-use EFL textbooks. The data of the present study were dealt with through four steps. This section is composed of three main sections. The first section dealt with the data generated from the T1“At the Crossroads” about the distribution of the types and categories of culture. The obtained data were analyzed by both micro and macro analyses procedures. The second section was about the data collection, description, and analyses found in T2“Getting Through” about the distribution of the types and categories of culture. The last one discussed data classification, description and Analyses of the T3“New Prospects” about the distribution of the types and categories of culture. In short, this section aimed to answer the third research question about the CP in the three in-use textbooks. So the likely conclusions will shed light on the extent of inclusion or exclusion of the types and categories of culture in the target textbooks. The data analysis process is mainly done according to the types and categories of culture. In addition, each type of culture was analyzed according to a number of topics. The analysis process was quantified using frequencies and percentages to provide support to the data.

Concerning the data of the textbook 1, the above table indicates the CP throughout all the units of the “T1”. It represents the frequency and percentage of 16themes related to the Big “C” and small “c” culture. Concerning types of culture, the frequency and percentage of big “C” culture and small “c” culture are 85.00% and 15.00%, showing a strong higher percentage of big “C’ culture than small “c” culture. Concerning the categories of culture, the percentages of target culture and non-target culture are 62.00% and 38.00%, showing a higher percentage of target culture than non-target culture.

The same table also presents the CP in terms of types and categories of culture throughout the “T2”. It demonstrates all the findings through frequencies and percentages of 16themes of culture related to the Big “C” and small “c” culture. As far as types of culture are concerned, the frequency and percentage of big “C” culture and small “c” culture are 81.87% and 18.13%, showing a higher percentage of big “C’ culture than small “c” culture. Concerning the categories of culture, the percentage of target culture and non-target culture are 48.84% and 51.16%, showing a slightly higher percentage of non-target culture than target culture.

Again the same table depicted the CP in terms of types and categories of culture in all the units of the T3. It summarizes all the findings using frequencies and percentages of 16cultural themes related to the Chen model of analysis adopted in the current study. As far as types of culture are concerned, the frequency and percentage of big “C” culture and small “c” culture are 94.73% and 05.27%, showing a higher percentage of big “C’ culture than small “c” culture. Concerning the categories of culture, the percentage of target culture and non-target culture are 39.65% and60.35%, showing a higher percentage of non-target culture than target culture.

The common steps of data analyses in relation to all the three textbooks demonstrate that the issue of CP seemed to be less suitable in regard to the types and categories of culture. In regard to the categories of culture, it was found that the source of CP gained a slight higher percentage than target culture. Based on the slight difference in the percentage among categories of the CP; it is evident that the CP in terms of categories of culture are designed with twofold aim. The first one is to enhance the learners’ cultural knowledge about English Speaking Countries. So, it intends to help EFL learners to be more prepared to act successfully in real life situations if they have an occasion to interact with people from the target cultures. For example, one of the 16themes, “History”, was observed by presenting topics such as some famous American presidents, slavery issues, social justice, etc, all related to the U S A. The second aim was to teach and prepare learners to talk about their own culture to visitors. So, it intended to help learners to become aware of their cultural identity and to encourage EFL learners to do familiar things through the medium of the EFL textbooks by making them see members of their own cultures speaking English. This fact is not in agreement with the question of textbook’s suitability in terms of the categories of culture. The analyzed textbooks were overloaded with cultural materials of the non-target culture and it contributes in a way or another to respond to the learners’ needs. This is not acceptable to teach particular cultural category at the expense of others. This is because most studies who examined the same area of interest concluded that most of the textbooks were heavily overloaded with the cultures of English speaking countries by which learners are prepared to encounter other foreign cultures. Furthermore, the textbooks proved to have a remarkable deficiency in the topics devoted for small “c” culture. This deficiency might be a powerful reason to that hinders the participants to communicate successfully with others who are culturally different from them, and henceforth, have a low competence in intercultural interactions. In this respect, according to the theories of big “C” and small “c” culture “Wintergerst and Mcveigh, 2010”, points out that small “c” cultural themes and topics play a more significant role in daily communication across cultural boundaries than big “C” cultural themes and topics because learners need to have the ability to communicate aboutthe daily actions, practices, thoughts, behaviors and private life when they encounter real-life intercultural situations ahead. Furthermore, even the Upper-Case Cultural topics are valuable information; it is limited in its utility. One can know a lot about the history of a particular culture and still not be able to communicate with an actual interlocutor from that culture. Understanding big “C” culture may create knowledge, but it does not necessarily generate competence. In other words, micro cultural topics and themes are more effective and important for intercultural communication in the target cultures than macro cultural topics and themes. By and large, it seems that the third main research question and its sub-questions are answered to some extent. Now it is time to present the different results, pedagogical implications, and recommendations for further research.                  

4.  Results, Pedagogical Implications, and Recommendations

The present section presents the results, pedagogical implications, and recommendations. It brings together all the related results. In fact, it summarizes the essential ideas and conclusions of the current study. So, the possible concluding remarks of the three surveys are as follows:

4. 1. Results                                   

The three empirical surveys showed a number of striking conclusions. Some of them are as follows:

Ø      Traditional approach versus competency-based approach: the traditional approaches to EFL classroom are still the dominant over the competency-based approach according to the teachers’, learners’ and textbooks’ data. This contradiction can be seen when the learners relied completely on the teachers and textbooks to learn about culture. In this respect, teachers’ and textbooks’ role seemed to be of great importance. Teacher’s knowledge and experience about different cultures is the law code for learners to follow. So the learning process is limited to the classroom setting, and henceforth, the action of brining the real-life world situations to the classroom learning environment under the CBA have not yet reached.         

Ø      Examination orientations versus communication orientations: all the samples agreed upon the idea that EFL is taught and learned just in order to pass national exams while the communicative purposes have not yet reached. So, the examination-oriented instruction system may affect the types of CBCs. All the samples demonstrated that both teachers and learners are expected to use the linguistic knowledge instead of cultural knowledge to fill the contents of exams.  

Ø      Linguistic learning versus culture learning: even the data revealed that the majority of the samples considered that the action of learning culture is important; the teaching and learning practices seemed to be limited to the linguistic ones. In this respect, it can be seen that language objectives are the central elements in the process of EFL teaching and learning while culture’s objectives are seen as peripheral in such a process. This uncomfortable situation can be justified by a number a factors such the lack of training, dominance of language forms over culture’s items, lack of materials, equipments, crowded classes, limited time, exams and context’s influences.

Ø      Big “C” culture versus small “c” culture: all the samples responses revealed that much more attention has been given to big “C” culture over of small “c” themes. Consequently, this slight portion of small “c” culture may be insufficient for the communicative outcomes. The inclination to big “C” culture does not contribute effectively to achieve intercultural communicative aims. Regarding types of culture, this means that communication among people from different cultures does not only happen among the people who are in a high political, economic, and social positions, but it takes place across a broad range of situations among ordinary people, daily life, and living routines. So an equal combination of the big “C” and small “c” is the only procedure by which intercultural communication aims can be reached. Furthermore, it is not acceptable to teach particular cultural themes at the expense of others because both of them are integrated parts for intercultural communication since they affect the ways of thinking, behaving and using a language appropriately and politely. So macro cultural knowledge does not constitute the real needs and aspirations of the participants. In other words, the EFL classroom CBCs should reflect the national Algerian aspirations through both big “C” and small “c” cultures.

Ø      Target culture versus non Target culture: The statistics related to the samples have shown a higher percentage of non-target culture than target culture. More than half of the overall cultural topics devoted to the non-target culture. This fact is not in agreement with the question of EFL classroom’s suitability in terms of the CBCs. This is not acceptable to teach particular cultural category at the expense of others. This is because most studies who examined the same area of interest concluded that most of the textbooks were heavily overloaded with the cultures of English speaking countries by which learners are prepared to interact with.

Ø      Objectivity versus subjectivity: the inclination to big “C” culture over small “c” culture is more subjective than objective. It seemed that the design of CBCs are done on the basis of some subjective reasons such as the macro political orientations of the nation educational system which count more on the tendency towards macro cultural issues through big “C” culture. In other words, it is through the education system in which the arguments of what English as a subject matter should emphasize on and kinds of learners should produce.

Ø      Theory versus practice: theoretical perspectives in the curricula and syllabi documents show something while the classroom practices show something totally different. These remarks are considered as a knock on the bell in order to urge the National Ministry of Education to pay attention to the EFL policy in terms of identifying the areas of change.                           

4. 2. Pedagogical Implications

The conclusions of the current study can, to a certain extent, provide some useful information for EFL classroom. This study suggests a number of pedagogical implications which are as follows:

             First, more specifically, the current practices of EFL teachers and learners at the Algerian EFL classroom has shown that they should reconsider the question of balance between linguistics’ competence and culture’s competence with emphasis on communicative outcomes. Even though the EFL teachers and learners focus on linguistic competence with a reference to multiple of reasons, a closer attention should be paid to cultures items along with linguistics items. So, all the people who are concerned about EFL teaching in Algeria should reconsider the process of teaching and learning EFL. In that way they would not deal with EFL as an end in itself but as a means for communicative purposes.

Second, the findings of the current study suggest that the samples’ preference is directed towards learning EFL with its culture. However, there are some pertinent matters about culture learning alongside language which should be reconsidered by all the people who are concerned in Algeria. The areas of change must cover the following concerns; the heavy dependence on the teachers’ knowledge and textbooks’ contents do not contribute to enhance learners’ CC in intercultural communication situations. So, they must be acquainted with a number of strategies such as watching the videos and films, listening to songs, reading poems, listening to radio programs, reading newspaper articles, doing projects out of the classroom environment, and enjoy authentic intercultural situations. Consequently, this attention should be modified by giving equal attention to the distribution of both categories and types of culture.

4. 3. Recommendations for Further Studies

The current study addresses the issue of CP in the Algerian EFL classroom. This domain contains plenty of interesting topics and ideas that manipulate the different classroom practices. In order to catch up these recent concerns, the researcher thinks that a more research work is probably needed to develop both the theoretical principles and practical strategies that make it possible to put the new ideas into effect when they come to incorporate culture in the EFL classroom.

Conclusion

To conclude the different stages of this study, it is worth to mention that the issue of culture in any EFL classroom is an intereseting, compelex and worth to be investigated at the same time. This importance is stemmed from the fact that culture is a very diverse term and any attemept to integrate culture in language teaching and learning will certainly raise plenty of questions concerned with the right topic, type and category of culture should be integrated. At last the idea of harmony between theory and practice is another compulsory point within the discussion of culture presentationn in EFL classroom.

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Mouloud Ait Aissa, «Culture Presentation in the Algerian English Foreign Language Classroom: The Case of Setif Secondary Schools, Algeria»

[En ligne] مجلةالآداب والعلوم الاجتماعيةRevue des Lettres et Sciences Sociales العدد 28 مجلد 15-2018N°28 Vol 15- 2018
Papier : pp 419-434,
Date Publication Sur Papier : 2019-01-09,
Date Pulication Electronique : 2019-01-09,
mis a jour le : 09/01/2019,
URL : http://revues.univ-setif2.dz/revue/index.php?id=5001.