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Topic 5 – Geographical, historical and cultural framework of English speaking countries. Didactic application of the most significant geographical, historical and cultural aspects.

1.- INTRODUCTION:

English is spoken in all continents. English is the most widespread language on earth.

English speaking is established in the British Isles, North America, Australia and North Africa. The English speaking is uncertain in Africa, Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. We will draw a geographical, historical and cultural outline of the most important English-speaking countries.

We will study the importance of sociocultural competence to the acquisition of communicative, and list activities to reach it.

2.- GEOGRAPHIC, HISTORIC AND CULTURAL FRAMEWORK OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES.

2.1.- EXTENT AND SIGNIFICATION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.

English has spread all over the world. Currently English is spoken and understood in the whole continent. It is the international language of commerce, science and research. It is easier to learn for Asiatics and Africans, but France wants to avoid the use of English words. In Spain there have been campaigns against the American “contamination” in papers, radio, TV or cinema.

We can say that in South America, English is widely spoken.

Many Caribbean countries are bilingual, they speak English and Spanish.

This demand of English, all over the world, has caused an economic phenomenon, a military expansion, the scientific advances and the power of media.

2.2.- ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.

The Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, imported English from the continent when they invaded “Great Britain”, after the arrival of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.

The language of these three peoples was basically the same, and the know dialects of Old English developed after their setting in the isles.

The Norman Conquest in 1066 caused tremendous linguistic changes from that moment on we will talk about Middle English.

Characteristics of Middle English were:

· Reductions of inflections.

· Disappearance of the grammatical gender.

· Rigidity in sentence word order.

· Fight among dialects.

· French orthography.

The influence of French and Latin terms modify the structure of the English Language.

About 1250, when the Normans lost Normandy and French language took and important paper, it began to be questioned whether English should be used as a representative national language.

Which dialled should become the standard language? Around 1350 the London dialect was about to become the “winner”.

The political predominance of London as a governing centre facilities the spreading of this dialect thought the country.

From 1400 onwards French is reduced to the aristocracy and as a vehicle of commercial transactions with the continent.

From 1650 to 1850 there is a change in the attitude of English people towards their own language.

There have been some changes in the Standard English, they are a consequence of the diversification of the “social dialects”.

2.3.- GEOGRAPHIC, HISTORIC AND CULTURAL FRAMEWORK OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES.

English is the most spoken language in the world after Chinese. We are going to talk about the general characteristics of the English-speaking countries.

A.- THE UNITED KINGDOM.

In full the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It’s a member of the Commonwealth and European Community. The capital is London. The currency is sterling pound.

It is a constitutional monarchy, with two houses: House of Lords and House of Commons. The chief of state is the sovereign, and the head of government is the prime minister.

Its geographic situation has marked its history, characterized by its independence to the continent. Nowadays this distance has disappeared with the building of the channel tunnel.

Industry has always been the main economic source, here the industrial revolution took place. Commerce has also been the basic for their prosperity. The UK dominated the maritime routes. The British monarchy was founded in 1066 by William the Conqueror, it has been a system, with a small break of ten years corresponding to the republican government imposed by Oliver Cromwell.

At the present moment, the monarch is Elisabeth II; she is also the head of the Anglican Church.

There are two big political parties: the conservative party and the labour party.

The principal river is the Thames. The highest point in UK is Ben Nevis (1343) in Scotland. The population grew in 1950 with the arrival of Commonwealth emigrants. They came from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

B.- THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND.

This nation occupies the largest part of an island situated west of Great Britain. The national language is Irish, but the official one is English. The major religion is Catholicism. Its capital is Dublin.

Ireland is an unitary multiparty republic, with two houses: senate and the house of representative. The chief of state is the president and the head of government is the prime minister. Currency is Irish pound. The highest point is carrantuchill; the major river is the Shannon. Ireland belongs to the European Community. Ireland obtains the independence from Great Britain in 1921.

The Irish economy is based on the agriculture. It has not got important mineral resources.

The religious conflict: Catholics and Protestants, The majority of the population in England is Anglican, the main features of the Anglican Church are the subordination to the Queen and its positives rejection of the Pope authority.

In Northern Ireland, most of the population is Catholic. In Belfast, the capital, Catholics and Protestants cause almost daily victims. The IRA, Irish Republican Army, commits terrorist attacks. The IRA wants the Protestants to abandon Northern Ireland. They want to get the self-government for the Ulster.

C.- THE UNITED STATES.

English language is an universal language because it has been established in many countries. This export began in 17th century with the birth of the colonies in North America. The main reason of the status of English is the great number or inhabitants in USA and the massive emigrations on the 19th and 20th century.

The USA is a federal republic formed by 50 states.

Two legislatives houses: senate and the house of representative. The head of state and government is the president.

Its capital is Washington. The first river is Mississippi river. The currency is American dollar.

Religion: there isn’t a principal religion. Protestantism is, perhaps, the most practised.

It is a nation of groups, where the minorities try to get equal rights and opportunities. The language is English, but there are minorities such as Spanish or Asians, trying to keep alive their language.

It is a very rich country, with important metallic and energy sources. The USA obtains the independence from Great Britain in 1783. From more than half a century ago the USA is the 1st world power. Its history is a long and constant territorial progress, with a great political and military development.

D.- THE BRITISH EMPIRE

The Victorian Era (1837-1901) was a period of prestige for Great Britain.

In the 16th century Great Britain developed its commercial capacity, by conquering every strategic point along the mercantile routes. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they became a great empire.

All these territories were controlled by generators who imposed their language, their culture and laws. Most of these territories were colonies for the exploitation, which originated the British richness and splendour. The population was formed by emigrant who wanted to start a new life.

The different territories got their independence, but some of them were not prepared for self-governing and have became 3rd world countries ruled by dictators.

E.- THE COMMONWEALTH.

It was founded in 1931 to carry out the dissolution of the British Empire. It is formed by 32 independent nations, they maintain the English crown as their Head of State.

The reason for this institution is the economic interest of the countries that belong to it.

States members: UK, Canada, Trinity and Tobago, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

F.- PHILIPPINES.

The republic of Philippines is an independent state since 1946.

Language: Tagalo; English as a commercial language.

Religion: Catholic.

Capital: Manila.

Spain lost the colony in 1898, under the domain of USA in 1935, it was constituted as a sovereign state under the North American supervision.

G.- THE COMMON LAW.

An amazing fact about the English legal system. There is not a penal or civil code. They have the common law. The sentences are based on previous trials.

The juries are formed by citizens coming from different social classes, they consider if the accused is guilty or innocent.

In USA, there are federal jurisdictions, every state has its own laws, courts and police.

3.- DIDACTIC APPLICATION OF THE MOST MANINGFUL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORIC AND CULTURAL ASPECTS.

The teacher of a modern language must teach not only the foreign language but also the civilization of the countries and people who speak that language.

Apart from history and geography, our pupils must get familiar politics, mass media, etc.

3.1.- HOW CAN WE TEACH ENGLICH CIVILIZATION?

There are 3 different procedures:

1. Interpretative reading.

First we must know the level of the group before planning any activity.

There should be a correspondence between the level of the text and the level of the group.

Different types of texts. The important result is that they get the signification about the society or social aspects reflected in the text-

Example: journey around the world in 80 days. The typical gentleman.

2. Practices of oral expression.

We can offer our pupils photographs showing different aspects of British life, they must say whatever they suggest to them.

We can use a dramatization of a dialogue, eg. “An English breakfast” (foods, timetable, courtesy sentences), “a tourist visit” (we can use postcards or photographs). We can mention Christmas, Thanksgiving Day, American Independence).

3. Didactic use of songs.

They are a pedagogic support for the teaching of civilization.

The songs must have certain characteristics:

– correspondence with the level of the pupils.

– Interesting for the pupils

They can learn some structures with the songs.



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