Exploring the Cultural Awareness amongst Beninese Post-Beginner Learners of English as a Foreign Language in the Littoral Secondary Schools

Hindeme Ulrich O. Sena, Egounleti Pedro Marius, Gnonlonfoun Jean-Marc

Abstract


Teaching a Foreign language also involves transmitting knowledge about the target culture or the country in which the language is spoken. This study aimed at investigating on the place culture in English as Foreign Language classrooms at secondary schools level in Benin context and the post-beginner learners’ cultural awareness in relation to successful communicative performance and language proficiency development. With that aim, a cultural awareness test was administered to three hundred and sixty participants selected randomly at the rate of thirty-six per school from ten secondary schools of the Littoral region of Benin. Two hundred and sixty valid answers were then collected and analyzed quantitatively using Microsoft Excel 2007. The results revealed that many teachers seem to underestimate the importance of culture, which explains a gap between their perceptions and practices in dealing with culture. Consequently, Beninese learners did not acquire cultural awareness. Indeed, EFL teaching in Benin may have missed the focus on cultural aspects of the foreign language and thereby explains learners’ failure to achieve successful intercultural communication. Some respondents also viewed comparing aspects of the students’ own culture with those of the target culture as the commonest way of developing cultural awareness. Moreover, shortage of time was seen as the main obstacle for teaching culture in classrooms. Students do not recognize the cultural aspect of the language despite their close relationship, which was proved in the dual and simultaneous improvement of advanced students’ performance in linguistics, and cultural knowledge, which, in turn, engenders their lack of cultural awareness being a key element in language proficiency and intercultural communicative competence. This research paper comes up with the recommendations that school authorities should design a specific culture oriented syllabus that covers all the different levels of English learning at secondary school level. In this regard, all the variables (setting, cultural, institutional, linguistic, and methodological) should be taken into account and mainstreamed in the curriculum. In the same vein, EFL teachers should consider Culture as an integrative factor in language teaching process.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22158/selt.v6n4p333

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