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The famous linguist Lado once stated in his work "Language Teaching: the scientific approach" that foreign language can not be taught without acknowledge of cultural background. Culture is the essential part of language. Therefore, we can not really learn the language unless knowing the model of culture and its guidelines (Lado, 1964). In addition, Claire Kramsh once pointed out that, "Language is a cultural environment, that is, the internal and external communication."
Cross-cultural communication refers to ones between native and non-native. Due to the differences in language habits, social culture and value, there are diversity in ways of speaking and thinking. As a consequence of this, there is a requirement on foreign language teaching, which must be connected with the cultural difference carried by language. The English teaching process in Chinese university needs a new road, from which cross-cultural competence can be considered.
1.1 General background of Intercultural communication competence in Chinese University English teaching
Language is an unavoidable factor in intercultural communication. Since the first propose of "global village" concept, the ever-developing technology and communication methods facilitate the connection of the "villagers". More and more people lead there lives in a multicultural group, and more and more connections are made among people with different backgrounds. The collision between Chinese and western culture help the interaction and mutual exchanges, which forms the new characteristics of cross culture in 21st century.
As the further expansion of reform and opening up in China, the connection and business exchange with foreign countries have become more frequent than ever. Thus, this requires the talents in 21st century can arm themselves with sense of globalization besides the traditional qualities. In order to fulfill that, the master of English and using it freely share ideas with people around the world is necessary. English, as the bond between China and the world and a media for information exchange, its role in communication service is more and more important. English teaching is serving for communication, which based on the foreign culture understanding, and this is widely acknowledged by most English teachers in China. Since the teaching of English is aiming at communication, so does the English teaching process. Therefore, the in-depth exploration of relationship among language, social and cultural factors, and how to bring this relationship into teaching process is winning the highlight. In other words, English teaching in China must cultivate the cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity which can finally developed into cross-cultural competence.
As any culture is coming from the accumulation of history, reflecting the values and achievements of people, it arms with distinctive national character. Different cultures would develop corresponding forms, which also can be found as language differences. Hence, the language is the carrier of its culture, and foreign language teaching can not be just started from own cultural perspective. Learning English from cultural base can facilitate the understanding process.
As it is known, the traditional English teaching in China is only taking the language as an object, focusing on sentence syntax, vocabulary and so on. Although there are emphases on listening, speaking, reading and writing as well as other basic training, in the practical environment, due to the lack of cultural awareness, the Chinese university students only can get the skills to express sentences in correct grammar and superficial translation. Thus, there is a formation of Chinglish controlled by Chinese thinking method and culture attitude, which influences the deeper cross-cultural communication.
1.2 Context Introduction of This Research
1.2.1 Problem Existing
First, there is a lack of cross-cultural education concept by authority. Take China as an example, there are more than 132 published articles focusing on this issue from the year 1994 to 2008, however, through inspection, there is lack of theoretical study and most of them just remain on superficial elements without proper suggestions of improvement. Second, there is no exactly form to implement cross-cultural education in China due to the large areas and different needs of regions. Cities like Beijing and Shanghai, as well as other metropolitan cities whose economic openness are standing at higher degree. They requires more on cross-cultural education and own more facilities to carry it.
1.2.2 Purpose of This Research
The main aim of this study is to evaluate the role of cross-cultural competence in English teaching of Chinese universities and make suggestions for strategies and structures should be applied with English teaching process. And some students and teachers will be explored as subjects in the research, which provide further evidence for the analysis of cultivating intercultural communicative competence in the Chinese university.
1.2.3 Hypothesis and Research Issues
When taking English teaching under consideration, the term competence is often used. Firstly, it refers to one's deepen and original knowledge of the language system, its grammar rules and vocabulary, and competence to fit pieces together (Brown, 1980). However, nowadays, the term competence often refers to skills to communication and communicative abilities, as well as cross-cultural abilities.
Due to the differences in social backgrounds of politic, economy and other factors between China and English-spoken country, there must be misunderstanding on the meaning and association in some words both in Chinese and English, which resulting the difficulty in cross-cultural communications. Supposing the focus of college English teaching is shifted into a combination of basic grammars and cultural competence, the language and culture are actually interwined without the possibility to teaching language out of cultural background.
Aspects about cross-cultural competence cultivation in the Chinese college English teaching would be discussed as follow: 1) How do Australian and Chinese students perceive the differences between each other 2) What is the combination of culture and English teaching in China should be and to what extend the reform should be taken.
1.2.4 Methodology Introduction
In order to find adequate theoretical basis, the author studied a large number of academic works related to the cultural competence in English teaching process and currant needs called by Chinese circumstances. Some theories focus on the definition of competence for cross-cultural communication and how can it be cultivated in language teaching, and give different recommendations on the methods to cultivate it. However, these recommendations exclude the details in Chinese surroundings and the characteristics of Chinese students. That makes the study area broader than the author focus on. However, the main structure of these theories can provide enough support to this dissertation.
Scholars lead by Kramsch.C has put forward the idea of injection cultural skills into language teaching in the year of 1993. And Chinese scholars have paid attention to this category of the Chinese English teaching system. The pursuit of ideal cross-cultural education is the remove of cultural barriers, respect for different cultures and individual differences. Meanwhile, promoting the human rights to choose life they want (Xiuying, 2009).However, they haven't given advice on the necessary of mix of these elements as well as how to mix them. And all these theories have been providing support for the author.
For the purpose of the study, the semi-structured interview is also conducted. Most interview is finished in China, and averaged about 25~40 minutes in length. Meantime, in order to give a panoramic view of the cross-cultural views of English teaching, the subjects would considered teachers and students both form Australia and China.
1.2.5 Structure of This Dissertation
The main body of this dissertation is made of four sections. The first section is literature review, in which part the relevant theories of cross-cultural communication and the role it in English teaching will be presented. Since the languages belong to the carrier of culture, most literature review would be related to their relationships and how to apply this relationship into facilitation of English teaching in universities of China. The methods of this dissertation are primary research and secondary research. Section three will concentrate on the research finding and analysis as well as the interpretation of findings. This section will focus on the English teaching process in China, which is built on the guiding principles and the rules it should have to involve more cultural factors. Recommendation on new system for college English education in China will be provided, which is the main point of the whole text. Recommendation would base on the previous study and bring into new structure for compositions of language teaching. The last section is conclusion, which is driven from the main points of new teaching structure, and can help forming a new system for the college English teachers.