Culture and language instruction: Does Turkey’s EFL curriculum do enough to support intercultural awareness?

Culture and language instruction

Authors

Abstract

The need to address culture in the language learning process has been emphasized as a means to promote both intercultural awareness and communicative language curricula. In countries such as Turkey, this has been an ongoing concern in the context of English as a foreign language (EFL) education. Thus, attempts have been made to enhance the cultural aspect of EFL learning in Turkey with the current English language curricula for elementary and high schools. To determine whether these curricula truly address culture in ways that support intercultural awareness, the researcher conducted a content analysis of the learning outcomes and objectives for each grade level, focusing on the curricula developed in 2013 and 2014 respectively for elementary and high school, as well as the program updates introduced in 2017 and 2018. The culture-related objectives and outcomes including products, practices, perspectives and persons relating to English-speaking and international cultures were identified, and the total numbers of culture-oriented outcomes and objectives were recorded and analyzed. The findings indicate that culture-related outcomes and objectives were highly limited in number; and they mainly addressed superficial aspects of culture such as names of countries/languages, foods and traditional costumes. Abstract and complex topics such as pragmatics, beliefs, and worldviews were largely ignored. Moreover, while the updated programs of 2017 and 2018 were intended to improve on the 2013 and 2014 versions, little was accomplished in this regard. As such, the findings suggest that current EFL curricula are unlikely to support the development of intercultural awareness in language learners. Some recommendations for addressing this issue are offered.

Author Biography

Servet Çelik, Trabzon University

Associate Professor and Head of Department, Foreign Language Education

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Published

2021-09-01