Jeremy Ben Royston Boulter
A critical examination of “A Lesson in Culture” by Tseng (2002) and the model for developing a language learning curriculum presented therein.
Abstract. Tseng boldly states that her ‘new cultural perspective’ semiotic theory is a new interpretation which challenges traditional views of culture in language learning. Tseng rejects what she considers to be a narrow view that sees foreign culture as discrete and relatively static in relation to the people who aspire to successfully acquire its language or survive in its environment. However, she sympathizes with the Cultivation Theory in the sense that it posits changes in people affected by the cultural forces of the target linguistic environment. In propounding her theory, she turns to semiotic tradition. She refers to Pierce’s axiom that any new cognition is determined by a previous cognition. She proposes that culture as a learning process, built up dialectically over time; that it is dynamic and internal; that the social and linguistic environment is affected by as well as affecting individuals. (Tseng, Y.H. 2002) According to her way of thinking, our inner identity, which is culture bound, is the springboard from which we make sense of the outer world through recognition of our own identity, transacting other cultural points of view through exploration and reflection. This critique intends to examine her model, critically comparing it to other models in order to assess its position in the hierarchy of cognitive language learning within the sphere of socio-cultural learning theory and practice.
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