Research on the Culture Education of English Teaching in the Primary & Secondary Schools
By
Tong Guolian
A 2009 Undergraduate of the School of Foreign Languages of Anqing Teachers College
Supervisor: Sun Xiufang
April 20th, 2009
Research on the Culture Education of English Teaching in the Primary & Secondary Schools
Thesis statement: An investigation on the culture education of
English teaching in the primary & secondary schools is done, and then the findings of it are analyzed, on the basis of which, some feasible suggestions are given.
Outline
Ⅰ. Introduction
Ⅱ. Methodology
Ⅲ. Analysis of the findings
Ⅳ. Suggestions
Ⅴ. Conclusion
Research on the Culture Education of English Teaching in the Primary & Secondary Schools
Author: Tong Guolian
Supervisor: Sun Xiufang
Ⅰ.Introduction
The globalization of the world economy makes English a more and more important language in international communication. And more and more people begin to learn English, which makes English education a hot issue in recent years. As Chinese people's understanding of intercultural communication have greatly deepened and much stress has been laid on intercultural education, many colleges in China have offered intercultural communication courses for English learners, which has attracted great attentions from the students to the whole society and has produced positive influence on them. And in recent years, many domestic and abroad educators have done some researches on the significance of culture education in English teaching and on the current situation of its implement in the primary and secondary schools in our countries. For example, Xu Jian, who is from Hunan Teachers College, has done some researches on the importance of learning English cultures in 19
  93. In
his paper Language and Culture, he points out that “In the foreign language teaching profession around the world there has been a notable rise in interest in the topic of the relationship between culture and foreign language teaching, and the focus has been constantly changing. However, the focus of the researches in this field of China has mainly been on how to impart cultural knowledge or information of the target language to learners. Actually, the relationship between culture and foreign language learning and teaching is far more complicated……”1 And another educator Fu Guoqing has discussed in his book Increasing Cultural Awareness in English Teaching (which was published in 19
  87) how to cultivate students’ cultural awareness and abilities in English teaching by introducing English cultures.2 In foreign countries there are also many educators who have done many researches of culture education in English teaching. As Johnson points in his book Language, culture and communication in learning English, “With the development of politics, economics and scientific technology, the world is quite different from before. The earth, where the human beings are living in, seems to take shrinking. Today, trips once taking years, months, weeks, and then days are now measured in a matter of hours. In effect, the planet earth is not shrinking, but time and space is. In the global village, nations are like families and countries are
like neighborhoods. Time and space no longer isolate or protect nations and groups from each other. It naturally follows that intercultural contact has become more frequent, direct and, therefore, more significant than ever before.”3 Almost all the educators realize the importance of culture education in English teaching and suggest improving both students and teachers’culture awareness in English learning. However, in the practical English teaching, the lack of culture education is still a big problem. To find out the current situation of culture education of English teaching in the primary and secondary schools, a questionnaire and an interview have been made, on the basis of which, some analyse of the findings have been done in this paper, and at last some constructive suggestions are given.
Ⅱ. Methodology
The research is done to answer the following questions: How much have the students mastered the western culture in English learning? In what way do primary & secondary schools have culture education in their English teaching? Whether do these methods play a positive role or not? What are students' reflections to these teaching methods? Are there still some shortages that need to be
improved? The main methods in the study are questionnaire and interview.
  2.1
  2. Questionnaire Practice is the most powerful datum to do the research. The opportunity of being a cadet teacher in Chang ling Middle School has provided the author a lot of valuable information on the current situation of culture education of English teaching. In order to find out what the attitudes students hold and how much they have mastered of the western culture in English learning, a questionnaire was made. The subjects of this questionnaire are mainly the pupils and middle school students. There are altogether 169 students in the research, including pupils, junior and senior school high students. The average ages of them are 13, 16 and 19 respectively. 57% students are from small villages, and 43% are from towns. The questionnaire paper consists of 10 multiple choices and 10 translation sentences mainly involving the factors which can greatly affect students’ understanding of English culture. The main content of this questionnaire involves the following five aspects: a. b. c. Appropriate ways of saying hello and goodbye; Proper reactions to others’ praises; Different responses to “ thank you”;
d. e.
Different attitudes to private things; Different understanding of social ceremony
The questionnaire is arranged at the end of the semester. The subjects of the questionnaire are divided into 3 groups: primary school students, junior high school students and senior high school students. Each group is asked to do this questionnaire at a different time. During the investigation, the first group of the students are gathered in a fixed place at the break time after the second class and asked to finish the paper individually within 20 minutes. So does the second and the third group, but at different time. 169 copies of the paper have been given out, 160 have been returned. Through counting up the number of students who get the correct answers and those that who get the wrong answers, we can see roughly the current situation of students' mastery of English culture. The method of percent style is adopted to calculate the research result, using the first number after the radix point.
  2.2 Interview Besides the questionnaire, to find out teachers’ attitudes towards culture education in English teaching, the degree of their mastery about English culture and the difficulties in the process of the implement of culture education, an interview has also been made to nine middle school teachers. There are 5 questions altogether in
the interview:
  1. How much do you know about English culture?
  2. Which do you think is more important to English study, grammatical knowledge or cultural knowledge?
  3. Do you usually introduce some cultural knowledge to students in the class?
  4. What are your methods to strengthen the culture education in English teaching?
  5. Are there any difficulties in the process of implement? The interview is carried out at two places. One is Yangling Primary School and the other is Changling Secondary School. Nine English teachers are involved in the interview. Three teachers are from the primary school, three from the junior high school and the third three from the senior high school. Five are males and four females. The youngest is only 24 years old, and the eldest at the age of
  41. The average age of the nine teachers is
  36. And two of them just graduated from different colleges. The rest have several years' teaching experience, among whom two teachers have never been to colleges. They graduated from junior high school many years ago. Therefore, the subjects of this interview are of different ages and levels, which makes the investigation more representative. The interview has been made just after the questionnaire. The
conversations with these teachers were recorded as research materials and then analyzed.
Ⅲ. Analysis of the findings The results of the questionnaire and the interview are analyzed in January 28th this year, with the help of the other two teachers in Changling Secondary School.
  3.1 Analysis of the questionnaire The questions in the questionnaire paper may be not so perfect, but the results from it reflect in a degree the current situation of culture education of English teaching in primary & secondary schools. That is, there exists a great lack of culture education in English teaching in primary and secondary schools. The results of the questionnaire are as follows (see Table 1 and Table
  2): Table 1 Error ratio of multiple choices Item 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A 12 90 147 120 29 15 18 52 68 B 135 70 14 38 117 125 136 110 89 C 22 9 8 11 23 29 15 7 12 Error ratio
  20.1%
  46.7%
  13.0%
  29.0%
  30.8%
  26.0%
  19.5%
  34.9%
  47.3%
10
61
88
20

  63.9%
The first question in the questionnaire is about greeting, and the right answer is B. From Table 1, we can see 12 students choose A, 135 choosing B and 22 choosing C. The error ratio is
  20.1%. It reflects that most students have known how to greet a person when first meeting him or her. And the second one is about the response towards saying goodbye: “What will you say when your English friend is leaving your home after a visit?” There are three items: (a)Good-bye! (b)Good-bye!Please go slowly! (c)Nothing. 90 students choose B and 9 students say they don't know how to respond, while the right answer is (a). It shows us that many students are not clear about how to say goodbye to a foreigner. In English speaking countries, people usually say “good-bye” or “see you” when they leave each other. While in China, it seems that we have more courtesy. When we need to leave, we may say “go slowly”, “welcome to my home next time”, “go with carefulness”, etc. Just for this reason, 70 students among the 160 have chosen (b) instead of (a), which takes up about
  41.1% of the total amount. This kind of “Chinglish” sounds very strange and ridiculous to a foreigner. Question 4 examines students’ reactions towards other people’s thanks. The right answers to this question 70% reflect that most of the students have got the knowledge of how to answer other people’
s thanks. Questions 5- 6 and questions 7-10 are related to private things and social ceremony respectively. People from different countries have different attitudes toward private things. And from the answers to questions 5-6 we can see there are still many students who make mistakes in this field. And so does social ceremony. Let’s take question 8 and question 10 for example. Question 8 is “What will you do when you receive a gift from a westerner?” and there are three choices: (a) Say “Thank you” and put it aside. (b) Say “Thank you” and open it. (c) Do not know. The correct answer is (b), but 52 students have chosen (a) and 7 don’t know how to respond when receiving a gift from a westerner. The rate of errors is
  34.9%. There still exists great differences between western and eastern countries about how to present a gift and how to receive it. But it seems that not everyone knows the differences. In China, people won’ t accept the gift at the very beginning. But if the owner really insists, he may accept it. And even if he has accepted it, it is very impolite for him to open it immediately. He should put it aside and open it after the owner leaves. On the contrary, in English speaking countries people usually open the gift on the spot to show their appreciation and thanks to their friends. If students are not clear about the culture of sending gifts in western countries, there will be misunderstandings or even conflicts arising. The choices to question 10 “If a Chinese
student is at an American friend’s house, he is thirsty. Is it right for him to ask for drink?” are as follows: (a) Yes. (b) No, he should wait to be offered drinks. (c) Do not know. To this question, the right answer should be (a). But to our big surprise, answer (b) has been chosen by 88 students, which takes up
  52.1%, more than half of the total number. From this we can find the cultural differences between America and China about frankness and implication. Chinese people are veiled and usually do things in a mild way. When they visit their friend’ home, they won’t ask for water directly even if they are thirsty, because they think it is impolite. On the contrary, American people are quite different. If they feel thirsty, they will tell the host frankly and ask for a cup of water. Table 2 Error ratio of translation sentences Item 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 True 108 32 152 58 148 39 55 50 135 20 False 61 137 17 111 21 130 100 119 34 149 Error ratio
  36.1%
  81.1%
  10.1%
  65.7%
  12.4%
  76.9%
  65.1%
  70.4%
  20.1%
  88.2%
The first and the fifth translation sentences in the questionnaire paper are about idioms. Idiom is “a group of words in
a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word understood on its own”.4 So idioms and phrases stand for different cultures of its country. English culture includes customs and
 

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