June 2005
Volume 9, Number 1
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Classroom Focus: The U.S. Midwest

Teaching Culture in Adult ESL: Pedagogical and Ethical Considerations

David Johnson
English Department
Kennesaw State University
Georgia, USA


Several scholars have criticized ESL language pedagogy that promotes western values. They caution against using approaches that are hegemonic and ultimately self-serving. This issue is most salient in the area of teaching culture to adult ESL learners. Despite criticism, teachers of adult ESL find that teaching culture is part of the adult ESL program. This article examines the ethical and pedagogical dimensions of teaching culture to adult ESL learners. Results of a qualitative study of an adult ESL program and its approach to culture in the classroom are presented. Findings show that while some criticisms may be warranted, teaching culture is believed to be important to communicative competence, and teachers and students acknowledge this.

Keywords: ESL, EFL, second language acquisition, second language acquisition, learning beliefs, culture, socialization

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