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Write a Critical review of 3 academic research articles relevant to the topic chosen for Assessment 4.
The interrelation between culture and language has long been a topic of debate between linguists, anthropologists and cultural analysts. The given articles examine the interdependence of culture and language from various perspectives. A study of students and teachers from different backgrounds and nationalities has been made by all three writers, which enable us to understand that culture is indispensable in language study. A. N. Leveridge (2008) suggests that using cultural explanations to teach language idiosyncrasies has been invaluable to the Taiwanese students who learnt under him. Similarly, Schulz (2007) was of the view that cultural stereotypes and communicative interactions help to remove the gaps in understanding of various languages. Various theories of language learning have emerged, leading to the appearance of ELT, TESOL, CLT, EFL and other teaching strategies (University of Adelaide, 2016).
In relation to this background, three research articles have been taken for analysis here. The first article titled 'An intercultural perspective on teaching and learning in the Vietnamese EFL classroom' is written by Ho Si Thang Kiet, a PhD student in Applied Linguistics from Victoria University of Wellington; the second one is 'I speak therefore I am: Self-perceptions of identity in immersion program language learners as an expression of intercultural competence' by Robyn Moloney and Lesley Harbon, Faculty of Education and Social Work from the University of Sydney and the third named 'Global Perspectives on the Notion of 'Target Culture' associated with English as a Foreign Language' has been authored by Rubaiyat Jahan and Peter Stewart Roger, both students of Applied Linguistics in the Macquarie University, Sydney.
The first article surveys the Vietnamese language system of teaching and learning from a cultural perspective. The article is more of an empirical study conducted using 'questionnaire, classroom observations and interviews with teachers and students' (Kiet, 2011). The multicultural dimensions of language teaching and learning and certain insinuations for EFL education are also deliberated upon. The writer Ho Si Thang Kiet has based his study on fourteen EFL teachers and two hundred EFL students from two different universities in Vietnam. The very sample is deficient, and it can be straightforwardly said that the writer should have chosen a larger and more diversified sample for the study. Although Kiet has concluded by saying that further research is still required, it can be said that interviews with a few students could have been more fruitful for the learning outcome theories later developed by the researcher. Kiet’s research has identified the primary difficulty that lies in infusing cultural elements in the language. This is partly because EFL teachers consider culture teaching to be 'topically dependent' (Kiet, 2011). Kiet has made a summative assessment in regards to the problem of including cultural connotations in language learning. As pointed out by Xianmei Sun (2011), culture shares a close relationship with language, and hence, the inclusion of cultural vocabulary is a fundamental part of language learning.
Further, Kiet has primarily based his survey on a questionnaire which can be criticized on the basis of a variety of elements. As pointed out by Wilson, N and McClean, S (2004), questionnaires are a one-sided source of data collection in which explanation is absent. This lack of explanation may lead to possible misinterpretation of the questions given. The ages, genders and other details of the sample population are also missing. This lends incredibility to the study. Kiet’s article was published in 2011, and hence, the references should have ranged from less than a decade. The article contains references from Byram (1989, 1997), Kramsch (1993), Nunan (1989) and Weaver (1993). Such obsolete references may also make the article questionable in its evidence. McLean (2001) states that referencing from an older source may be beneficial in historical articles. Since the subject matter is linguistics and the citations are related to the latest studies and researches in linguism, a more recent referencing should be used.
Kiet concludes his article by stating that “both linguistic competence and intercultural competence” are essential for competence in intercultural communication. Methods of developing this competence could have been discussed in more detail. The writer has solicited a three-step method for the confluence of cultural intricacies with linguistic abilities. The first step is to incorporate cultural implications into the goals of language learning. The second step is to explore substitute ways of culture teaching and a more systematic dealing with culture learning. The third step advocates that learners should be motivated to take an interest in the cultural acquisition of the target language (Kiet, 2011). This three-step method is quite appreciable and may serve as a beacon for other EFL teachers and learners from various countries. For example, Kim Hua Tan (2012) has explored the concept of ICC (Intercultural Communicative Competence) in ESL classrooms using the concept of politeness strategies in a Malaysian treatment group.