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ENHANCING CULTURAL AWARENESS IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSROOM

E. Mounts1, L. Smirnova2

1Defense Language Institute (UNITED STATES)
2Kazakh-British Technical University International School of Economics (KAZAKHSTAN)
The paper focuses on teaching culture as a proficiency enhancement tool. Culture is viewed not only as customs, arts, social institutions, etc. of a particular nation but also as patterns of behavior, beliefs, values and attitudes common in this nation. The paper discusses the importance of incorporating culture into a curriculum and analyses its effects on communication practices. A special emphasis is made on notes and references as means of raising cultural awareness and academic motivation. A culture note is a short explanation of an important cultural phenomenon that a target language learner is not likely to be familiar with. Three types of notes related to different spheres of life and ways of turning them into instructional materials are described. The rationale behind certain choices of notes is examined and the challenge of making them engaging and concise is discussed. The paper demonstrates how integrating culture into the classroom facilitates the process of language acquisition and develops students’ self-awareness and critical thinking.