The Relationship Between Acculturation And Social Identity Education Essay


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This text explains about the relationship between acculturation and social identity of EFL learners. Culture and social identity are closely connected to each other and it is so important to pay attention enough to them. I think the learning of second language requires cultural as well as linguistic competence as well as live within cultural context. By acculturation, we mean the internal processes of change that immigrant experience when they come into direct contact with the members of other culture. The other point is about social identity theory states that people think, feel, and act as members of collative groups and cultures. So, in this text I briefly explain about these two important factors in the process of EFL learners.


Culture in second language teaching and learning indentifies too many facets of culture that influence SL learners and teachers. It addresses the impact of culture to interact, speak, construct meaning and write in a second language, while staying within the socioculture paradigms specific to a particular language and its speakers. (Hinkle, 1999)

I think through the study of other languages, students gain knowledge and understanding of the cultures that use that language; in fact students cannot truly master the language until they have also mastered the cultural contexts in which the language occurs. Actually, a learner does not really learn a language perfectly unless he/she learn about the culture of target language. So, I think the important point is that, all students and learners must pay attention enough to this point.

Linguists and anthropologists have long recognized that the forms and uses of a given language reflect the cultural values of the society in which the language is spoken. So, in my opinion social identity of learners can be made through this process. Linguistic competence alone is not enough for learners of a language to be competent in that language (Krasner, 1999). Language learners need to be aware, for example, of the culturally appropriate ways to address people, express gratitude, make requests, and agree or disagree with someone. They should know that behaviors and intonation patterns that are appropriate in their own speech community may be perceived differently by members of the target language speech community. They have to understand that, in order for communication to be successful, language use must be associated with other culturally appropriate behavior. So, in my opinion they should consider enough to the role of social identity and social behavior of themselves. In distinction with personal identity, social identity is essentially a sense of belonging to a group, whether it is cultural, national, linguistic, ethnic or professional. All of these areas, among others, consist of the different components of our social identity. They can also be referred to as different social identities.

So, second language acquisition involves the acquisition of a second identity. This creation of a new identity is at the heart of culture learning, or what some might call acculturation. (Brown, 2000). This term can be defined broadly as the change that accurs within an individual based on his or her interaction within two distinct cultures. more specifically, Sam and Berry(1995) defined acculturation ʺ as a concept used to refer to behavioral and psychological changes that occur as a result of contact between people belonging to different culture groups.ʺ(p.10)


Models of Acculturation:

Based on ideas proposed in some research (e.g., Berry, 1970; Sommerlad & Berry, 1970), Sayegh and Lasry (1993) outlined three theoretical models for understanding the process of acculturation: linear, bidimensional, and orthogonal. Linear (also referred to as one-dimensional) models imply that the acculturation status of immigrants is divided into two categories. In one category, the ethnic values and beliefs of the group dissolve, or assimilate, into the host culture. In contrast, individuals in the other category retain their value system and independence, thus being "marginalized as inassimilable" (Sayegh & Lasry, 1993). In contrast, bidimensional models suggest that there is an interaction between the dimension of cultural or ethnic identity maintenance and the dimension of relations between cultures or groups.

According to this model, four possible modes of acculturation are possible: assimilation, integration, marginalization, and separation. Assimilation describes when an individual from the ethnic minority identifies completely and solely with the dominant or host culture while rejecting their ethnic identity. Integration implies a state in which an individual from the ethnic minority retains strong traditions of their ethnic group but also identifies well with the dominant culture. Marginalization refers to the occurrence of an ethnic minority group rejecting or being uninvolved with either their ethnic culture or the dominant culture. Separation is a model by which the ethnic minority group identifies only with their ethnic group while excluding interaction with the dominant culture. So, these categorization must take into account.

Definition of Culture:

The National Center for Cultural Competence defines culture as an "integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, languages, practices, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies, rituals, manners of interacting and roles, relationships and expected behaviors of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group; and the ability to transmit the above to succeeding generations" (Goode, Sockalingam, Brown, & Jones, 2000).

In its broadcast meaning, culture is a humanly created environment for all our thoughts and actions. (Tepperman et al 1994:1).This is something all humans share and what distinguishes us from the animal world.

After reviewing some paper, I realized that for many people ,culture would mean art,literature,customs and everyday life peculiar to a certain group.However,culture also include invisible features like beliefs,values,norms and attitudes.

The anthropological definition of culture is also shared by the other scholars of the other fields, including that of language.Lado(1986:52)writes in Linguistic Across Culture that culture is synonymous with the "ways of people";Chastain(1988:302)defines culture as "the way people live" and, according to Brown(2000:176),culture is "a way of life".

Goals of teaching and learning culture:

When the main aim of foreign language teaching is to develop students' ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in various situations, the teaching of culture should facilitate intercultural communication and understanding .Seelye formulates what he himself calls a super goal for the teaching of culture:"All students will develop the cultural understanding ,attitudes, and performance skills needed to function appropriately within a segment of another society and to communicate with the people socialized in that culture."(Seelye 1993:29)

Chastain (1988:299-300) adds that in language classes where intercultural understanding is one of the goals, students become more aware of their own culture and knowledgeable about the foreign culture. In such classes, students learn to recognize cultural patterns of behavior and communication and function within the parameters with those new expectations.

They learn that culture shock is a normal reaction, and they anticipate ways to deal with new and uncomfortable situations. The hope is that they will develop a greater tolerance for those whose values, attitudes, and beliefs are different from their and that they will learn to manage change and growth successfully in their lifetime (Damen, 1987).

Tomalin and Stempleski (1993:7-8) have modified See lye's goals of cultural instruction .According to them, the teaching of culture should help students:

•to develop an understanding of the fact that all people exhibit culturally-conditioned behaviors

•to develop an understanding that social variables such as age, sex, social class, and place of residence influence the way in which people speak and behave

•to become more aware of conventional behavior in common situations in the target culture

•to increase their awareness of the cultural connotations of words and phrases in the target language

•to develop the ability to evaluate and refine generalizations about the target culture, in terms of supporting evidence

•to develop the necessary skills to locate and organize information about the target culture

•to stimulate students' intellectual curiosity about the target culture, and to encourage empathy towards its people

So, I think by using these important points, the students gain an important goal that may lead them to be better in future.

Defining a cultural syllabus:

After reviewing some paper, all of them explains about an important point which is that, cultural syllabus. So, I feel it is better to mention here about that.The cultural syllabus can be defined and classified using different categories such as topics, topic areas, and element of culture and so on.

Topics for teaching culture:

The easiest way to design a cultural syllabus is to compile a list of topics that are thought to be important for or of interest to student. Brooks (1986:124-128) represented his list including 62 topics. For example music, meals, medicine, festivals, hobbies, sports, careers etc. However, I think, he claims that such a list is in no way exhaustive and stesses that the learners' age and needs should be considered.

Chastain (1988:303-304) similarly to Brooks claims that students can add topics with which they want to become familiar. In his list there are 37 topics, including family, home, money, religion, holiday, clothes, good manners and non-verbal communication. Chosen topics can be grouped in to areas or categories.

Stern(1992:219-222)emphasizes six categories which an average language learner is likely to require places,individual persons and way of life, people and society in general, history ,institutions and,fainally art,music,literature and other achievements. In syllabus design Stern suggests that teachers should make a choice of a particular country where the language is spoken.

Hasselgreen (2003:47-52) suggests a list of categories. These categories are based on student' essay and therefore, consider their interests. The topics are centered on learners' intercultural abilities. These are: the ability of coping with daily life activities, traditions and living conditions, the ability to deal with social conventions, confidence with the values, beliefs and attitudes of the foreign language users, the ability to use verbal communication means and lastly, the ability to use non-verbal language (e.g., body language and facial expressions).

Ways of Teaching Culture:

Authenticity of material:

These experiences are valuable for cultural understanding only insofar as the dialogue or dramatic reading faithfully reflects behavior in the target culture. Some textbooks begin with dialogues which reflect common, everyday experience of the students in their native culture, on the principles that they will not find this disconcerting since they recognize a familiar situation behind the strange forms.(Wilga M.1981:327)

Displays, posters, bulletin boards, maps and realia can create a visual and tangible presence of the other clture.students can also make culture wall charts which Hughes calls this technique the cultural island.

Using authentic sources from the native speech community helps to engage students in authentic cultural experiences.

Moreover; there are many approaches which are useful for teachers in order to help them to teach the second culture effectively.

The cultural aside is probably the most widely used approach to the teaching of culture .A cultural aside is an unplanned, brief culture comment. During the class, the teacher commonly takes advantage of relevant topics as they arise to give the students bits of cultural information. For example if the students have the word coffee, the teacher can differentiate between the coffee drunk in their country and that of the second culture and where and when people normally drink coffee.(Chastain,1988:309). Nostrand (1974:298) calls the technique an incidental comment. I think this technique can be useful for students.

Another technique is slice-life which first suggested by Taylor in 1972; also offered by Chastain in 1988 and Stern in 1992 is a technique when the teacher chooses a small segment of life from the second culture that is presented to the students at the beginning or end of the class period. (Taylor 1972).

The cultural assimilator is a brief description of a critical incident of cross-cultural interaction that may be misinterpreted by students. (Henrichsen, 1998).Cultural assimilators were originally designed for preparing Peace Corp volunteers for life in a foreign environment.(Stern 1992:223).

The culture Capsule is also used to teach culture. It is a brief description of one aspect of the second culture followed by a discussion of the contrasts between the cultures of the first and second languages (Chastain 1988:310)

The distinctive behavior of a speaker of the language in a specific situation is analyzed into component parts about which the students are informed in several culture capsules. These capsules are classroom demonstrations of the components of the behavior through the showing of pictures or through action with any necessary cultural objects. Later, the students act out a scene into which is integrated what they have learned in the capsules. (Wilga, 1981:329).

Some teachers use mini dramas to help students visualize culture content. According to Chastain (1988) in this approach students incorporate the culture being learned into their actions as they perform in selected situations.

See lye (1993:71) stresses that the teacher has to establish a non-judgment atmosphere during the discussion. It is also important for the teacher to use the right questions.

Another technique for teaching culture is self-awareness technique. It serves to raise to consciousness those basic beliefs that govern their values, attitudes, and actions and to enable students to begin to understand the role of culture in society and in individual lives. Teachers may use sensitivity exercise, self-assessment questionnaires, problem solving, profiles of personal attitudes, checklists of value orientations, or listening to the opinions of others as a means of increasing their awareness of their own cultural orientation (Damen, 1987).

Chastain claims that the way people use the second language to express themselves reflects the way they organize reality and teachers can explore the language and culture connections that occur in class.

Film and television segments offer students an opportunity to witness behaviors that are not obvious in texts. Film is often one of the more current and comprehensive ways to encapsulate the look, feel, and rhythm of a culture. Film also connects students with language and cultural issues simultaneously (Stephens, 2001), such as depicting conversational timing or turn-taking in conversation.

According to Wilga (1981) songs, dances, pictures, advertisements using the Bulletin Board, news, are also useful activities which help teachers to teach culture in class. So by using these techniques, the learners who are immigrants and go into another country, can facilitate their capabality in order to become familiar with culture of another country. After a while, their socail identity will shape their personality, so these two important factors can be matched through using these techniques.


Here, I want to conclude some section. As an important point, the idea of teaching culture is nothing new to second language teachers. In many cases, teaching culture has meant focusing a few lessons on holidays, customary clothing, folk songs, and food. While these topics may be useful, without a broader context or frame they offer little in the way of enriching linguistic or social insight-especially if a goal of language instruction is to enable students to function effectively in another language and society. After reading some papers, if I want to look critically to this point, understanding the cultural context of day-to-day conversational conventions such as greetings, farewells, forms of address, thanking, making requests, and giving or receiving compliments means more than just being able to produce grammatical sentences. I think it means knowing what is appropriate to say to whom, and in what situations, and it means understanding the beliefs and values represented by the various forms and usages of the language.

Culture must be fully incorporated as a vital component of language learning. Second language teachers should identify key cultural items in every aspect of the language that they teach. Students can be successful in speaking a second language only if cultural issues are an inherent part of the curriculum. And the last point is that, Acculturation should be achieved as integration, which means that both own culture and host culture are seen as possessing value as themselves. Acculturation and social identity so are closely connected to each other.

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