魅力中国 2017年16期


There is no denying that English has played and will continue to play a rather essential role in our life. Many an English educator exerts all their attempts and efforts to reform the English language teaching and learning methods. As we all know, language has emerged and developed together with culture. Language is the keystone of the culture. Nowadays, educators associate cultural components with pure language teaching. They pay more attention to develop students cross-culture awareness.

I. What is Language?

Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication. For these symbols, there is no correction between the word and the item in the world that it refers to.

Communication is considered to be the primary function of the language. However, functions of language are varied. According to Hu Zhuanglin, there are seven functions:

1.informative, providing useful information for our life. 2.interpersonal function, by which people establish and maintain their states in a society. 3.performative, changing the social states of persons. 4.emotive function, changing the emotive states of an audience for or against something or someone. 5.phatic communication, social interaction of language. 6.recreational function. 7.metalingual function, talking about language itself. (11-16)

II. What is Culture?

As we know, different languages have different cultures. Culture is an integrated pattern of human behavior that includes communication, practices, beliefs, values, customs, thoughts, rituals as well as manners of interacting and roles.

In this part, I just want to explore two basic ways to define the term “culture.” The first definition comes from humanities. It emphasizes on the way a social group represents itself and others by its material productions.The second definition comes from the social science. It refers to the attitudes and beliefs, ways of thinking, behaving and remembering shared by members of the community.

III. The Relationship between Language and Culture

Language is a significant and vital part of a given culture and the effect of the culture upon a given language is evident and indispensable. Different languages may reflect different cultures. Different cultures entail different language expressions. Language and culture are closely associated with each other and depend on each other.

i. Historical Relationship

The origin of language is closely associated with the origin of human beings. Around three millions years ago, the natural condition was very harsh and serious. Humankind had to face the threats of low temperature, fierce animals and other danger. As a result, they were in great need of uniting and cooperating together. Then, language, as an inevitable vocal tool for their communication, emerged in their life. As any tribe or group has their own way of living, their own customs, habits, their language evolved with the influence of their culture.

ii. Geographical Relationship

There are numerous tribes and communities in different parts of the world. Different countries and societies have different cultures and languages. How to celebrate their festivals is different from one country to another according to their traditions.

However, with the global village, the boundary of geography is gradually obscure. Protecting the traditional culture has become a public concern. Some countries have already taken some urgent and effective steps to protect their particular culture, even their language.

iii. Educational Relationship

The importance of teaching culture has been widely recognized for teachers. Educators fear that the mere mastery of language systems by no means guarantees the international communication and cooperation. Although students gain a large number of vocabularies, grammar points, they could not use English in a proper and free way. In fact, students cannot truly master the language until they have also mastered the cultural context in which the language occurs.

Ⅳ.Culture Differences: the Obstacle of Understanding English

As different countries have different cultures, some difficulties and obstacles will arise when we listen, speak, read, write English. In the following paragraphs, I will explore some misunderstandings of English because of cultural differences.

i. Listening Obstacles in English

With wide spread of English, we get more and more chances to listen to English. However, some teachers and students continue to complain the difficulties in understanding English. They have an acceptable mastery of vocabularies, grammar points as well as pronunciation knowledge. Then, what is the real reason for their so little achievement?

One critical reason is that they are lack of cultural background of these western countries. Aural comprehension, in fact, is an examination of ones comprehensive competence which includes ones English language level, range of knowledge, competence of analysis and imaginative power.

ii. Speaking obstacles in English

Many foreign teachers regard speaking part is the most difficult part for Chinese students to get high mark. Chinese students communication competence is not satisfactory because we ignore the social meanings of language forms and language applications in reality. Moreover, the materials we use today are outdated or seldom pay attentions to differences between different cultures. In oral teaching, teachers should lay stress on factuality of language and adopt some materials approaching to daily life, because the materials are from real life, and they help students to be well acquainted with standard pronunciations and intonation, to speak English appropriate on the occasion, to understand western way of life and customs, etc.

iii. Reading Obstacles in English

“The major difficulty encountered by language learners when they deal with written texts stems from the passage from orate to a more literate mode of speech” (Claire 130). To a large extent, it would affect the readers reading speed and ability. What is more, since writers proper use of idioms, proverbs and sayings is often a mark of a persons command of the language, they are fond of picking up some idioms and proverbs in their passage. However, it would be a great obstacle to the English learners because it is rather difficult to understand the cultural connotation and meaning.

iv. Writing Obstacles in English

In writing, cultural knowledge is of important too. When we tend to write in English, what you should have is not only a mastery of vocabularies and grammar knowledge. Without some cultural information, you would definitely not finish an excellent essay. All of us want to write like a native. If you have mastered the language well, then you should pay more attention to the cultural differences since they play a significant role in your English writing.


The above discussions have revealed that language and culture are closely interrelated. Nowadays, many English educators have been aware that a good way to develop our English is to explore specific English culture in depth. As long as teachers and learners try their efforts to learn different cultures, it is not difficult for us to use English appropriately in the near future.


以文化人 自然生成
Cultivation of independent learning ability in English teaching英语教学自主学习能力培养