Opening Activity and Overview
Doug Gilzow/FSI

Culture Survey Results
Lea Christiansen/ILI

Semantically rich encyclopedic approach to Nahuatl lexicography
Jonathan Amith/Director/Mexico-North Program on Indigenous Languages

USG Panel
Laura Murray/ODNI
Doug Gilzow,
Tasnim Razi/FSI

ILR Survey on Teaching Culture

It is widely recognized that language and culture are interconnected.  However, some have argued that foreign language programs need to strengthen their focus on culture identifying specific information and skills as instructional goals.

This informal survey is ILR’s attempt to gather general information about how ILR organizations deal with the teaching of culture. Note that responses will be considered as statements of individual perspectives and not as official positions of an organization.  Results will be shared at the ILR plenary session June 23. 

Instructions: Please answer each of the following questions and send responses by  April 21.

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1.  What do you think is a useful definition of culture for your organization?  To what extent is it separate from language in your organization?

2.  What does culture mean for employees using a foreign language in your organization?

3.  What are the goals of training in the area of culture for you organization?  What should students know or be able to do?

4.  What components of culture are and should be included when training employees in your organization?

5.  How are cultural skills and knowledge measured?



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Select Answers per Question: 1. What do you think is a useful definition of culture for your organization? To what extent is it separate from language in your organization?

Culture and language

"Language and culture are inseparable for all language levels."

"Language and culture go hand in hand and neither one can exit without the other." "

"...inseparable because language reflects culture."

"Understanding of host nation norms, traditions, values, etc; can be learned without knowing the language."

"culture has lexical content, semantic content, and pragmatic domains; it doe not have syntax, morphology, or phonology."

"purely language: phonology, morphology, and syntax"...overlapping langua-culture: pragmatics, lexicon, most aspects of semantics, ...discourse structure and behaviors, genre..."

"Culture may be learned without knowledge of the target language, but it doesn't happen the other way around."


"what to do when and where"

" a body of learned behaviors common to a given society..."

" the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization and passed down to successive generations. "

"transmitted informally from one person to another and from one generation to the next by means of spoken (NOT written) language."

"regional expertise"


"Culture would probably also include "Big-C" culture, as well: literature, art, architecture."

"sociological approach based on attitudes and beliefs, ways of thinking, behaving, and remembering shared by members of that community."

"includes aspects of history, religion, customs, and normal relationships standards ... that are regularly exercised by educated and informed individuals in a society."


"why they do it that way", "how can they think that"

"awareness and knowledge of the currently accepted cultural norms & practices related to the target language."

"...governs the ways the people of each nation think, believe, behave and speak."

"widely shared ideals, values, formation and uses of categories, assumptions about life, and goal-directed activities that become unconsciously or subconsciously accepted as right and correct by people who identify themselves as members of a society."

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"Culture is roughly anything we do and the monkeys con't.” 
Lord Raglan

“In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language” 
Mark Twain

“Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery” 
Mark Amidon

“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Yes, we are all different. Different customs, different foods, different mannerisms, different languages, but not so different that we cannot get along with one another. If we will disagree without being disagreeable.”
J. Martin Kohe