Islamic Azad University, Karaj Branch, Iran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Shahid Bahonar University of Kermen, Iran (Oghabi444@yahoo.com)
Teaching and learning a foreign language is tightly interwoven with getting familiar with the cultural values of that language. According to Zhang and Yan (2006), learning a language means acquiring a set of pragmatic norms and cultural values embodied in the target language. However, deep cultural differences among countries sometimes turn it to a challenging job to the teachers to keep the dialogue between the two cultures. Teachers, parents and educational systems in some countries have deep concerns about the interfering effects of the contradictory cultural values of the two languages on the personal identity of the students. The present article attempts to give an overview of the cultural constraints of foreign language learning in Iranian context and discusses the issue in two areas of material development and language teaching and tries to provide some guidelines in this regard. Findings of the study proved that teachers can focus on cultural differences and explain them in a way that awareness of a foreign culture contributes to understanding the students’ own culture. Respecting the learners’ culture is essential for any EFL teacher (Lindsay, 2000), while teachers should focus on teaching cultural values of the target language with implying tone that no culture is superior to another. The cultural values are better to be presented to the learners considering their age, level of understanding and maturity to avoid misunderstanding and negative effects on their personal identity.
Keywords: material development; cultural values; cultural differences; cultural imperialism; cultural constraints