Could not download file: This paper is available to authorised users only.


N. Grande1, R. Castillo2

1Universidad de la Sabana (COLOMBIA)
2Universidad Distrital (COLOMBIA)
The research project was inspired by the principles of ethnography, defined by Merriam (1998) as a “study that focuses on culture and social regularities of everyday life.” I wanted to understand why the adolescents in a summer camp in Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation tended to reject English learning, and they seemed not to like discussing cultural topics.

The evidence of the teenagers’ rejection towards English studies came from individual and informal interviews made by the camp leaders and me, to every teenager who applied for the program before the season started. These interviews asked for their opinions about learning the language.

Two reasons of their apparent dislike were identified: one parental and another socio-personal. Firstly, adolescents mentioned the fact that their parents advised them not to study English; but instead, subjects they deemed more useful for their professional lives, such as mathematics or science. Secondly, most students claimed they did not want to learn this language, because they were able to handle any circumstance with their “well-recognized” Russian mother tongue.

In regards to the inclusion of cultural topics, the camp team leaders told me they had previously tried to focus them on Russian culture aspects to no avail. Adolescents did not seem engaged in the activities, and their participation indicated more an obligation. Likewise, team leaders mentioned learners had a strong sense of belonging to the Russian culture, therefore claiming they did not need to get acquainted with other cultures.

Bearing in mind the rejection of the English language, my inquiry explores the interrelationship of the triad: culture, teaching and learning (Robinson-Stuart and Nocon, 1996) that might enable a path for enhancing learning and teaching processes in this group, arguing for a second language acquisition that builds meaningful socio-cultural cores, thus facilitating cultural awareness, as discussed by Schweder (1984) “the language process is likely to improve, going beyond mere language and enriching students’ cultural knowledge, contributing to a better language development from a cultural core, that influences some internal and external practices in the classroom in terms of language acquisition and cultural awareness.”

Therefore, if apprentices accomplished the acknowledgement of cultural diversity worldwide, in the future they may be able to deal with the varied multicultural populations, and make it part of their citizenship; as argued by Ember (1973) “It is only when we compare ourselves with people in other societies that we become aware of cultural differences and similarities.”

Finally, once analyzed the contextual situation, the following study is aimed to address the question of: What could a Russian teenage community inform us when exploring topics of Colombian Caribbean Culture? Thus, results from this study indicated the way in which Russian teenagers acknowledged linguistic diversity, as well as developed better sociocultural relationships, with a higher level of cultural awareness.