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Topic 4A – Assessment of knowledge of foreign languages as a means of communication between people and peoples. Interest in linguistic diversity through knowledge of a new language and culture.

Foreign language as communication instrument. International and multilingual realities. Interest for a new language and culture.

1. FOREIGN LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION.

Language can be a barrier to communication. The most usual way to go round is to find someone to interpret or translate it. there are many problems because exact equivalence is impossible and there is always a loss of information, even with an accurate translation.

On the other hand some people have created new artificial languages, neutral, standardised, easy to learn, with a lot of functions, etc, but people cannot identify with a language nobody speaks.

There is another solution, using a natural language for communication between different groups of people. For centuries Latin has been used but nowadays is English the one that is getting that position.

It is due to the political, economic and military power of the UK first and the USA later. Trading, industry, science and literature have contributed to it.

English is a live language, changing and developing quickly. There are many linguistic loans from all languages and the meaning of some words change quite easily. In addition to that, verbs system is simple and English has not got genre.

Some people, most of them from countries with important languages, are reluctant to learn a second language. But foreign language learning becomes a necessity nowadays:

· The European Community: meeting people from other countries on equal linguistic terms. And also the possibility for workers to move from country to country.

· People travel a lot and languages help to cope with different situations and give the opportunity of interaction with natives.

· There are more and more cultural exchanges. Science, technology and trading demand foreign languages.

· Languages promote understanding, tolerance and respect for the cultural identity, rights and values of others. They broaden our minds, because we find other ways of thinking about things.

· Foreign language learning prepare students to cope with an ever-changing environment. They face up to social and personal demands.

· Linguistic awareness is getting more and more accurate with foreign language studying. Mother tongue gets also better.

So, teaching a language means also showing the linguistic aspects and knowing about the culture. The language is a vehicle for it.

2. TEACHING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

New materials include increasingly information about different aspects of the target language community (geography, social values, sports,…)

It can help the contrast between foreign community habits and pupils’ own habits. They must be aware of the different ways of behaviour and also reduce the risk of intolerance.

Meaning is not an isolated property of the text, it does not only appear in discourse, it is relational. Pupils must know about the context where the text is shown.

Being English is a part of a person. We must also mind sex, age, social class, ethnic background,…

The teaching of English culture is not only a matter of words. We must not reduce culture to stereotypes. We are educating people for a more tolerant world and the civilised acceptance of difference.

Our task is to encourage people to take an interest and develop a positive attitude towards the foreign country and its people.

3. CONTENTS

Sociocultural expressions are shown mostly in traditional material (e.g.: songs: “I love sixpence”, “Teapot”)

Traditional games and sports also help.

Establishing differences and contrasts in:

· Some jobs (e.g.: milkman)

· Social politeness (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Excuse me, please…)

· Everyday activities (meals, time, school timetable)

· Weather (clothes, seasons)

· Sociocultural distinctions (driving on the left)

· Celebrations (Halloween)