Date of Award

5-11-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Gertrude Tinker Sachs, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Peggy Albers, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Janice Fournillier, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Paula Garrett-Rucks, Ph.D.

Abstract

This qualitative, case study investigation examined practices for the incorporation of cultural texts and experiences in the post-secondary foreign language classroom and how these practices could impact the attitudes and perceptions of participants towards the inclusion of culture in the classroom and towards the target culture in general as well as their intercultural competence. While culture is often viewed as akin to language, if not as language (Byrd, Hlas, Watzke & Montes Valencia, 2001; Tang, 1999) and the link between culture and language is seen as inextricable and undeniable (Agar, 1994; Kramsch, 1993), in many lower-level post-secondary language programs, culture is at best a superficial aspect of language learning (Lange, 1998). The importance of ensuring the inclusion of culture in the foreign language curriculum has come to the forefront of the debate with the recent release of the World-Readiness Standards by The American Council on the teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) (World-Readiness-Standards, 2015). This study not only underscores the importance of the inclusion of culture in the foreign language classroom, but more importantly examines participants’ perceptions and attitudes towards the target culture(s) both at the beginning of the semester and at the end of the semester.

The theoretical frameworks for this investigation are based on Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) and Critical Race Theory (CRT). Using these frameworks the study investigated the following question: What are foreign language learners’ perspectives on cultural acquisition through cultural texts?

The participants in this study were students in one introductory university-level Spanish class at a major college in the Southeast. The data sources included participant interviews and participant responses to questions on the cultural text being used in class. Findings contribute knowledge about the necessity of not only integrating explicit cultural instruction in the foreign language classroom through cultural texts, but also the effects of the integration of this material on student attitudes and perceptions about the target culture(s).

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