The Changing Face of English
by Abdullah Coskun
The cultural content of the English curriculum also needs to be focused for an ELF curriculum that will help learners use the language as an instrument for intercultural communication. The cultural content in most of the English course books are full of with culturally loaded inner circle themes related to actors in Hollywood, the history of Coca-Cola and pumpkins in Halloween. These topics might not appeal to a learner who has nothing to talk about these topics or who finds them irrelevant to learn for an effective ELF communication. It would not be fair to suggest that the target language culture should not be taught in our classrooms at all but as discussed earlier, I would hold the belief that the model to take in developing a curriculum should not merely be the native-speaker culture. Course book writers and curriculum developers should be more ELF conscious and incorporate as many different cultures as possible including the culture of the target learner. By this means, our learners can benefit from the power of English as a way to resolve conflicts with a better tolerant understanding of the globe consisting of different cultural values.
The ideal trend in teaching culture seems to be the inclusion of the international culture in the English curriculum. International culture materials can be exemplified as typical Japanese wedding, German festivals, Italian food, Brazilian dance, British politeness and Turkish festivals. As for international culture, the question how “international English culture” can be limited may come up. As the scope of internationalism is so wide, there needs to be a framework to narrow down the Englishes and cultures to incorporate in an ELF curriculum or the course book. To illustrate my framework, if Turkey has close links with its neighboring countries such as Greece, Iran and Russia, it is important to teach the cultural and linguistic patterns of these countries as English learners in Turkey might be in need of communicating with people living in these countries by means of English. The way people in these countries behave in certain situations, initiate and end a conversation, eat and establish eye contact should somehow be included in the curriculum.
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