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Wed, 20 Apr 2011 13:02:38 EDT by admin, 130301 views
Corvinus University of Budapest
Education paper by Sólyom, Erika (all papers)
The Importance of Cultural Competence in Teaching Hungarian as a Foreign Language
Cultural competence generally refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Although cultural competence has been widely analyzed in the professional world (e.g. in the works of NGOs, government agencies, policy making institutions, HR offices, health care practitioners, etc.), it has also attracted considerable academic interest in the field of education. Within education, however, the discussion has concentrated on the training and the education of teachers and school staff and the developing of their cultural competence, especially with the growing diversiy of students in the classrooms both in the US and worldwide. Being a culturally competent educator means valuing diversity and respecting differences of students who come from very different backgrounds in order to understand them and communicate with them efficiently.
As a sociolinguist, an educator and a foreign language instructor, I find it important to expand the question of “Who is a culturally competent educator?” to the following inquiry: “Who is a culturally competent second/foreign language teacher?” As Kramsch puts it, “despite the advances made by research in the spheres of the intercultural and the multicultural, language teaching is still operating on a relatively narrow conception of both language and culture. Language continues to be taught as a fixed system of formal structures and universal speech functions, a neutral conduit for the transmission of cultural knowledge.” She concludes that in the future the language teacher has to be defined “not only as the impresario of a certain linguistic performance but as the catalyst for an ever-widening critical cultural competence.”
In my present talk, I will shed light on how Hungarian culture is incorporated in our Colloquial Hungarian course book, providing particular examples from various dialogoues and cultural notes of the book. With the specific examples, I will underline the fact that “beyond knowing words and grammar, learning a language involves acquiring a role, and knowing how to act according to that social definition.” I firmly believe that linguistic competence, communicative competence, cultural competence are equally important parts of foreign language teaching and foreign language learning.
Kramsch, Claire. "The Cultural Component of Language.” In Language, Culture and Curriculum. London: Routledge. 2010, Volume 24.
Rounds, Carol H. & Erika Sólyom. Colloquial Hungarian. London: Routledge. 2011. 3rd edition.
Ogulnick, Karen. “Learning Language/Learning Self.” In Intercultural Discourse and Communication. Eds. Scott F. Kiesling & Christina Bratt Paulston. Oxford: Blackwell. 2005: 250-54.
Brief Professional Bio:
Erika Sólyom earned a B.A. degree in Russian and English Studies (EKTF, Eger) and received her first M.A. in English Language and Literature (ELTE, Budapest) in Hungary. In 2003 and 2005, respectively, she earned an M.A. and an M.Phil. in Linguistics at New York University. Her research interests are in intercultural communication, minority language education, linguistic human rights, language and gender as well as language change and globalization. Since 2004, she has been teaching Hungarian as a Foreign Language for US study abroad students of ELTE and Corvinus University of Budapest, where she is also the director of the American Corner Budapest cultural center. In 2002, she published with Carol H. Rounds Colloquial Hungarian, Routledge’s well-known language learning series. In 2003, she was awarded a US Fulbright-Hays fellowship and conducted research on Hungarian language change. Her sociolinguistic findings appeared in Comparative Hungarian Cultural Studies edited by Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek and Louise O. Vasvári in 2011.