Rabu, 12 November 2008

What is culture?
Culture is a word used in a variety of ways. It has many meanings. Often people talk about high ‘culture’ and knowing about this subject. Culture is also defined as the rules on which a society is based. This means the way in which particular group of people has decided to order their lives, how they greet each other, what they eat, and how they work, play, pray, and so on. This is the very wide meaning of culture and within it too there is a place for art and music and dance as examples of that culture.
Barriers to culture perception
Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own culture is the best and that one’s interpretation of the world of reality is the most reliable. Sometimes you find people who believe that everything belonging to their group is better than theirs, no people are more intelligent, no land is more fertile or beautiful than theirs, etc.
Prejudice and Prejudgment
Another barrier to perceptive culture learning and teaching is prejudice or prejudgment. We have stereotyped other cultures and make sweeping generalization coming from our very limited contact with other culture groups, and also from the limited information which we acquire about other cultures. However in some situations it can also be due to ignorance or narrow mindedness. When we live along with other people prejudice cannot be excused. For example, it is a stereotype often made of westerns that most western women wear very short skirts, because when Indonesians watch American films they wear short skirts. If a person then reacts negatively and says:” that’s because western women have no moral values or self pride, then this misinformed statement turns into prejudice.”
If the prejudice continues into a refusal to interact with the other social group as an equal but rather treat as inferior then this is discrimination.
The opposite of prejudice and discrimination is tolerance. These people know that other social groups are different, but they appreciate the differences in beliefs, opinions, behavior, etc.
Culture Shock
When people for one reason or another travel abroad, they are not prepared for the differences in the new culture. They don’t like the food, they can’t stand the cold or rain, they don’t understand they way the other culture behaves, socializes what they believe, etc. so, they become tense because everything is unfamiliar.
Culture Adjustment
After sometime, if the culture shock ceases and everyday activities no longer cause major problems, these people begun to adjust themselves to the new culture. They can enjoy their lives in the foreign country because they can communicate with the host people, and accept their habits, customs, foods, etc.
What is cross cultural understanding?
It is very difficult to learn about another culture and not to think that is very strange. It is impossible to be totally objective. When we look at another culture, compare, and contrast it with Indonesian culture as a mean of discussion, and try not to judge the other culture but only become aware of the differences. In the course we will fight against the tendency towards stereotyping which happens all too easy when we talk about cultures. We will try not to make sweeping statements like ‘all Indonesian are friendly, all westerns are ‘sombong’, but instead look at why these stereotypes have occurred and how much they are founded on truth. We will look at subcultures and cultural variables within one culture. For example, there are cultural divisions in Indonesian within the different islands and the different sub-cultures.
Why is CCU important in learning English?
If language is just a set of grammar rules (as it is too often taught to be), there would be little place for CCU. But it is not. There is a lot in language learning that does not fit into a prescribed set of structural rules and it is the understanding of this element of language which is aided by cultural knowledge. Cultural Understanding can aid language learning to have a deeper understanding of the idiomatic use of language, by giving some background of cultural and linguistic features and by bringing the language to live so that students are motivated to the English language as means of communicating ideas.

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