TEACHING ENGLISH FOR UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS: A CULTURAL APPROACH

M. Werner, A. Brawerman-Albini

Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná (BRAZIL)
The purpose of this work is to share some profitable experiences we have had with undergraduate students of English in a public university in Brazil. From 2011 to 2014, at UTFPR (Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná), four ETAs ( English Teaching Assistants) from the Fulbright Program developed academic activities with the students, bearing in mind the importance of integrating concepts of culture and cultural learning with educational aims. Learners with various levels of English were encouraged to interact and develop critical thinking about different cultural aspects. The methodology used considered Byram’s research (1989), which emphasizes the importance of cultural studies as an integral component of language teaching. Kramsch (1993) also states that as part of language teaching and learning, culture allows language educators to establish goals for the learners, so they can achieve their own potential for growing and expressing themselves. The activities were prepared by the ETAs and performed by the students under the supervision of a professor and they included debates, cultural lectures, conversation clubs and drama classes. Such activities proved to be extremely interesting for the students who had the opportunity to interact and develop their sense of belonging to a group and, at the same time, become aware of the similarities and differences that exist between culturally distinct groups.