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The Importance of Cultural Awareness in Teaching a Language

The Importance of Cultural Awareness in Teaching a Language

There’s more to teaching a new language than breaking down word translation and sentence structures. The culture inherently tied to the language is essential for students to learn as they’re learning grammar concepts. As you’ll learn below, the importance of cultural awareness in education while teaching a language is nothing to push aside.

Understand the Culture

At the end of the day, the purpose of language is to socialize with one another—to convey ideas and emotions in precise, deliberate ways. A lack of understanding of the culture associated with the language a student speaks can influence the way they speak it. In other words, to communicate in another language, the speaker must have a strong grasp of cultural norms and gestures to convey a message to someone fully. Likewise, cultural context allows for more efficient, natural communication between individuals.

Even if you can break past the language barrier, a cultural barrier between individuals can still lead to misunderstandings in conversations. Learning another language should act as a bridge between the student and another culture. So, if teachers don’t weave cultural awareness in teaching a second language, to put it bluntly, what’s the point?

Why Is It Important?

For example—an English-speaking individual born and raised in America makes a reference to a famous American TV star, like Kiefer Sutherland. Even if someone from another country has the knowledge to interpret the sentence in their native language technically, the cultural specificity of that reference may go over the listener’s head. Obviously, there’s more to culture than TV; this is just one of the many examples that show how having cultural awareness in the classroom and an understanding of the people, places, and traditions linked to a language is crucial for any young learner to have.

As mentioned earlier, cultural norms are also essential for students to know when learning a new language. A key reason for this is that certain phrases or gestures that are harmless in one culture may be offensive to another. Not only is cultural awareness important for understanding native speakers of the language, but also for remaining respectful during your conversation.

When using your elementary Spanish curriculum to educate young learners, connecting grammar to the Spanish culture gives a strong context to the lesson. You can also take advantage of our supplementary cultural curriculum. By merging these two concepts, students can then use their understanding of sentence structure, word translation, and cultural knowledge to hold a natural, genuine conversation with another student who has a deeper understanding of these concepts. No matter what language you’re covering, the importance of cultural awareness in teaching a language remains equally essential.

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