Cross Cultural Communication and Creativity in Foreign Languages Teaching and Learning
Иванченко Т. Ю. Cross Cultural Communication and Creativity in Foreign Languages Teaching and Learning // Молодой ученый. 2013. №4. С. 561-564.
The world we live in is changing dramatically and to develop students’ unique creativities is an important and worthwhile educational goal. The globalization of the engineering profession requires the graduates’ good skills in cross-cultural communication. European activities in internationalization of education and particularly international students exchange help to develop needed skills and abilities.
Engineers of tomorrow will need more than technical skills. They must be prepared to act in international environment. In the time of the worldwide communication industry and trade, firms have become international organizations. Thus, they need specialists not only equipped with professional knowledge, but also with other qualities indispensable for proper operation in modern society. A graduate of today needs additional skills: must be able to establish contacts easily, have negotiation skills and be able to work in groups, be flexible and easily adapt to various conditions, and be prepared for acting on international labour market.
Thanks to development of technologies, means of communication and telecommunication (Internet) and recent political changes the world has become a much smaller and much more common place. The shrinking of the distances can be observed especially in Europe, which gets more united by unification of economical, legal and monetary systems. The education systems must take into consideration the development of international contacts at the same time preserving their traditions as well as their national distinctions. In order to fulfill these demands it is necessary among others, to gain ability to work with people representing various countries and cultures .
Communication within a common culture, or intercultural communication, covers communication between people who share a commonality of experience, knowledge, and values. Intercultural relations are founded on such factors as shared heritage, gender association, religious affiliation, class distinction, and the like. People in this group may see the world in highly similar ways and may share a common value system. Within the confines of a shared, general culture, communication has the greatest probability for success, if success is defined as a message being understood in the manner in which it was intended .
In an educational setting, the desire for effective communication at regional and global levels must arise first from the hearts and minds and choices of individual administrators, individual teachers, and individual students. You may be saying, or thinking, «What can I do about any of the world's problems or about barriers to effective cross-cultural communication?
Culture assimilators comprise short descriptions of various situations where one person from the target culture interacts with persons from the home culture. Then follow four possible interpretations of the meaning of the behaviour and speech of the communicators, especially those from the target culture. Once the students have read the description, they choose one of the four options they think is the correct interpretation of the situation. When every single student has made his choice, they discuss why some options are correct or incorrect. The main thrust of culture assimilators is that they are good methods of giving students understanding about cultural information.
Cultural problem solving is yet another way to provide cultural information. In this case, learners are presented with some information but they are on the horns of a dilemma, so to speak. For example, in analyzing, a TV conversation or reading a narrative on marriage ceremonies, they are expected to assess manners and customs, or appropriate or inappropriate behaviour, and to employ various problem-solving techniques.
Indisputably, conventional behaviour in common situations is a subject with which students should acquaint themselves. For instance, in the USA or the United Kingdom, it is uncommon for a student who is late for class to knock on the door and apologize to the teacher. Rather, this behaviour is most likely to be frowned upon and have the opposite effect, even though it is common behaviour in the culture many students come from. Besides, there are significant differences across cultures regarding the ways in which the teacher is addressed; when a student is supposed to raise her hand; what topics are considered taboo or “off the mark”; how much leeway students are allowed in achieving learner autonomy.
Cultural competence, i.e., the knowledge of the conventions, customs, beliefs, and systems of meaning of another country, is indisputably an integral part of foreign language learning, and many teachers have seen it as their goal to incorporate the teaching of culture into the foreign language curriculum. There is a relationship between language and culture.
Foreign language learning is comprised of several components, including grammatical competence, communicative competence, language proficiency, as well as a change in attitudes towards one’s own or another culture.
Alongside linguistic knowledge, students should also familiarize themselves with various forms of non-verbal communication, such as gesture and facial expressions, typical in the target culture.
Language is, or should be, understood as cultural practice, then ineluctably we must also grapple with the notion of culture in relation to language.
The role of literature in the foreign language classroom is great. Among four skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), culture can best find its expression through the medium of literature. Culture should be our message to students and language our medium. The teaching of culture should become an integral part of foreign language instruction.
And how is friendly interaction between teachers and students and among students most effectively fostered? Mutual understanding and mutual respect are two keys to successful ineraction.
But we must realize that teachers are the experts in the classroom, they are the ones whose opinions should carry the most weight, their voices should be heard most frequently in the classroom.
Yet, in a very real sense, out students are also experts at language study. They are experts by virtue of their long years of exposure to a wide variety of teachers and methods and textbooks and contexts. Because all students can speak with authority about their own experiences in language study, their voices deserve to be heard, as well. What do students think about their language programs? What have been their disappointments, their triumphs? What improvements in language study would they like to see implemented? What do they value most highly, both in class and out of class? .
Higher education teachers are forced to encourage and subject communities to consider the role of creativity in students’ learning and their experiences of learning. Creativity is an integral part of modern foreign languages.
Languages are not always creative, but they have enormous potential to be so. They are used deliberately to create works of art, and for spontaneous communication. Learning a language may be a creative exercise because languages are so vast and complex, and each user needs to use and combine elements of knowledge in new ways constantly. The discipline of Foreign Languages carries these associations, and uses them, without necessarily truly promoting creativity. Language study also lends itself to creativity as it can be seen to embrace other disciplines with endless scope for doing so in new ways.
In relation to the discipline of foreign language teaching and learning, everything potentially embodies creativity. Language teaching is very open and flexible area where creative activities can be easily embedded in both the teaching activities as well as in the language curriculum.
Thus creativity lies in the ability to construct meaningful language from the building-blocks available and to express ideas using the resources available; but also, recognizing that the resources can be adapted and that the language learner can often be in control of resources, rather than subject to their limits and restrictions. On another level, creativity also means the scope to play with language and ideas for their own sake .
Higher education must help students to develop their potential as fully as possible within the learning context and prepare them for a life time of learning, problem working, changing and coping with change, encourage students to plan for, manage and reflect on their own learning and development, then help students to understand the role of creativity in their learning and their experiences of learning .
Learning is not isolated from context like a subject, a problem, an opportunity. It isn’t isolated from motivation as well: need, desire, interest or compulsion. Context also stimulates the need for creativity and shapes the form that creativity takes. Personal choice is also important: we can choose to be or not to be creative .
Creative process may contain a set of interconnected activities, experiences and relationships, for example: 1) thinking ahead and planning what to do — analyzing tasks, identifying goals, creating strategies to achieve; 2) doing things in line with planned intentions; 3) thinking about what was done and what was achieved in order to learn (reflecting, reviewing and evaluating; making sense of experience); 4) self-observing and recording — thoughts, ideas, experiences, actions and their effects, experiences to develop a record of learning; 5) participating in activities (thinking about identity and integrity); 6) communicating constantly (developing communicative abilities).
New efforts are aimed at improving foreign language education in the Russian Federation. There is the need to strengthen foreign language skills among the students of non-linguistic higher educational establishments. Knowledge of one or several foreign languages becomes an integral part of professional training .
Meaning of creativity in foreign language teaching encourages teachers to be innovative and to experiment. When we use the word “creativity” in connection with foreign language teaching, let us call it “teaching individuality” and be very sure that we judge creativity in the classroom by what the teacher makes it possible for the student to do. Then creativity will be much more than a pronunciation exercise.
To have better results we can: 1 — adapt our foreign language teaching at the national level to the frameworks and standards articulated by the Council of Europe's language policy and activities which are a planning instrument that provides a common basis and terminology for describing objectives, methods and approaches, skills and practices in language teaching; 2 — use innovative technologies and media which provide interaction with speakers of other languages. We need specific research on how technology can be best used to increase students' proficiency in other languages. The Internet and specialized databases for information retrieval is of special importance. Teachers try to develop successful strategies using television programs, films, computer games, and music videos; 3 — activate interaction and collaboration with speakers of other languages. Access to information on the World Wide Web and the use of new information technologies, especially networked computers, has contributed to increased communication among foreign language teachers and students in many countries; 4 — develop communicative teaching methods. It means a focus on communicative and intercultural learning which does not only stimulate a productive discussion of teaching objectives, methods, and underlying rationales, but also results in increased oral and written proficiency for their students; 5 — focus on raising students' awareness of various communication strategies, including strategies to bridge vocabulary gaps, reading and listening strategies, and general language learning strategies.
Other notable methods include the sole use of the foreign language in the classroom; a modular approach to teaching in which students are grouped according to proficiency level and project-oriented learning that emphasizes the use of authentic materials through technology and integrates learning about English-speaking countries with language and content learning .
The integration of cross cultural communication and foreign language studies contribute significantly to both the business community and the foreign language education profession. It is leading to increasingly successful global interactions.
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