Perspectives: The Place of Culture in Teaching English as an International Language (EIL)

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Hideo Horibe



In the conventional ELT paradigm it has often been said that teaching English cannot be separated from teaching the culture of its native speakers. But in the paradigm of English as an International Language (EIL), which focuses on the functions of English as a means of communication among people from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds, the traditional view of culture must be thoroughly reconsidered. Attempting to define the place of culture in EIL, this article presents a new conceptual framework consisting of three kinds of culture: (1) culture as a social custom, (2) culture in the pragmatic sense, and (3) culture in the semantic sense. Based upon this classification, the article attempts to clarify how culture should be understood and dealt with in the EIL perspective, and proposes what cultural factors should be incorporated into the classroom, both in the general ELT context and in the specific context of Japanese English education.