Buckingham University Feb 2017
Some quotations – how apt are they?
• “A different language is a different vision of life.” (Fellini)
• “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their
• “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” (Wittgenstein)
• “Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new
language is becoming a member of the club -the community of
speakers of that language.” (Frank Smith – psycholinguist)
MFL’s unique contribution to the curriculum?
“One unique aspect of language learning for students is its capacity to
open their minds to different cultures, to enable them to value and
evaluate both the new culture and their own and thus to become
better educated, tolerant and discerning citizens. What is commonly
called 'intercultural understanding' or ‘cultural awareness’ is rightly
considered to be a hugely important aspect of citizenship and social
cohesion in our multi-cultural societies. “
• Smith and Conti, 2016. The Language Teacher Toolkit
Sources of cultural input
• Spoken and written non-fiction texts (authentic?)
• The teacher
• Visitors, e.g. FLAs
• Visits and exchanges
L1 or L2?
• There is plenty of room in language lessons for talking about culture
in your first language (L1). Most teachers have personal knowledge
and experience they want to share with classes and with younger
classes, this is better done in L1.
• Interesting discussions to be had comparing L1 and L2 culture and
this is a superb opportunity for teachers to explain, dispel myths,
open minds, share anecdotes and seek students' own views and
• At Higher GCSE and A-level L2 can be the main medium for
transmitting and sharing cultural knowledge.
Special events and memorable lessons
• Food tastings and making recipes.
• Inviting a TL-speaking member of the community.
• Project-based learning (PBL) – examples. (CLIL – Content and
Language Integrated Learning)
• Task-based learning – examples.
• E-Twinning or letter/email/Skype exchange.
• Individual research projects – not just A-level.
• Study visits and exchanges.
Culture: discussion questions
• What is the motivational value of teaching “culture”?
• What is integrative motivation? (Gardner and Lambert)
• Should you adapt your teaching to different classes – more culture
with some than others?
• Should we focus on similarities or differences between L1 and L2
• Which culture do we teach?
• A-level: general studies through the TL?