Is there culture without language? Within our linguistic world, we have unspoken cultural mores. How we behave, how we interact with others, our expectations of manner and connectivity of persons are examples of unspoken scenarios within culture - and between cultures. Being able to reflect requires language. Reflection is a dialogue; a dialogue with one’s self, or a dialogue with another’s.
It is essential that teachers of language be aware of the cultural mores of their students. Language learning needs to be enabled from within the student’s life experiences and particular culture for it to be relatable and hence, successful.
I have written four sub-competency essays to exhibit my growth as a language and culture teacher and learner. For the first, Awareness of the Relationship Between Language and Culture, I have added a link - at the end of this introduction - to a podcast of my interview with Dora Musini, a graduate student in International Education, whose L1 is Italian. In addition to the personal documents I have written for the MAT program, I intend my questioning of Dora to illustrate the depth of my understanding of this competency. Here are the questions I wrote as the basis for my podcast interview wth Dora.
• Does your culture value multilingualism?
• Why did you decide to learn English?
• Do you find E very different from your L1 in the way it is used to express abstract ideas?
How or how not.
• Do you find it limiting for you to express yourself fully? How or how not.
• Does using E evoke socio-cultural conflict? How or how not.
• Do you feel culturally different, or included, when you speak it here in the USA compared to
when you speak it at home
• Do you feel excluded from your home culture when you speak E there?
• Linguistically, what excites you about English and how is that element different from your L1?
In three subsequent essays in this competency: For knowledge gained: Culture as Subject Matter in Language Teaching; for skill gained: Exploring and Analyzing Cultural Phenomena and Applying Analyses to my Teaching Context; and for attitude: Engagement in Understanding Culture and Intercultural Communication, I relate my personal experience before coming to SIT. And then, within each sub-competency essay, I exhibit examples of newfound skills, attitudes, and knowledge gained here in my MATESOL program.