Cultural values are, in themselves, neutral as well as universal,
and so much depends on how individuals or ethnic groups use them.
F. Sionil Jose
Higher education is aimed at preparing of an integrated, variative thinking, creative personality who has good communication skills, culture of thinking, ability to synthesize, analyze, perceive and the ability to understand the value of information in the development of modern information society. In a rapidly globalized world, it is virtually impossible to be competitive on the labor market without the knowledge of a foreign language and readiness to intercultural communication. Sociocultural competence is an essential part of comprehensive understanding of other people and their culture.
Sociocultural competence is a set of specific knowledge, skills, abilities and qualities, formed during formal or informal language training for intercultural communication. Development of socio-cultural competence helps to:
- understand culturally-conditioned behavior of other people;
- form tolerant attitude to other cultures;
- develop the ability to recognize cultural connotations and decode them;
- conceive the importance of culture, race and ethnicity;
- understand one’s own culture [2, 4, 5].
The immersion in the atmosphere of another culture, traditions and customs is the most effective means of social competence development. Outside the language environment it can be developed by:
- problematic approach to teaching a foreign language;
- reading of authentic literature (books, journals, newspapers, brochure, comics, etc.);
- guided discussions, role-plays at lessons that address solution of intercultural incidents;
- conducting traditional festivals of the country of the studied language (learning songs, poems, riddles, making national attributes for the holiday, etc.);
- use of authentic materials;
- communication in the Internet.
The Internet offers a vast variety of resources for language learning, helping learners immerse in the language environment, collaborate with international peers and practice authentic communication. The Internet ensures learners with up-to-date information about English language, 24 hour access to educational materials, on-line dictionaries, articles, etc. The Web pages provide:
- grammar and vocabulary rules, drills, exercises, self-assessment tests;
- sound recording and listening to native speakers’ speech;
- comprehension reading tasks;
- solving puzzles;
- information about studying and working abroad, etc. .
In language learning learners can work with the Internet resources individually or in pairs, in or outside the classroom. The teacher should choose the Internet material and forms of work according to the learners’ needs and the syllabus. The Internet can be used for:
- distant on-line scientific conferences;
- long-distance project work;
- international chart groups;
- e-mail communication;
- Internet blogs;
- discussion forums, etc. [1, 3].
On the whole, acquaintance with foreign language culture provides learners with an additional motive to a master a foreign language, carry on a successful international communication and adapt to the global world. Foreign language social competence builds intercultural bridges, contributes to the development of tolerance, speech culture and sense of internationalism and provides an opportunity to compare the culture, traditions and art of home country and the country of the studied language.
1. Dovedan Z., Seljan S., Vučković K. Multimedia in foreign language learning http://www.ffzg.unizg.hr/infoz/dzs/text/mfll.pdf (accessed April 25, 2015).
2. Handford M. Developing sociocultural competence in the ESL classroom. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~aezweb/nlc/handford.pdf (accessed April 25, 2015).
3. Nemickiene Z. Internet technologies moulding students’ socio-cultural competence in the learning process of foreign languages (accessed April 25, 2015).
4. Polikarpova Yu.O. Development of students’ socio-cultural competence by means of English. http://www.academia.edu/1828323/DEVELOPMENT_OF_STUDENTS_SOCIO-CULTURAL_COMPETENCE_BY_MEANS_OF_ENGLISH (accessed April 25, 2015).
5. Zarate G., Neuner G. Sociocultural competence in language learning and teaching: studies towards a common European framework of reference for language learning and teaching. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1997. 122 p.