Achieving Cultural Acquiescence Through Foreign Language E-Learning

Achieving Cultural Acquiescence Through Foreign Language E-Learning

Indi Marie Williams (Texas Tech University, USA), Heather N. Warren (Texas Tech University, USA) and Bolanle A. Olaniran (Texas Tech University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-166-7.ch006
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Abstract

Within a globalized society, foreign language acquisition is essential to promote intercultural global communication. For many, the use of information communication technologies (ICTs) to teach a foreign language is the easiest way to accomplish this task. However, it is important to consider the cultural implications of foreign language e-learning, and to answer the question: Can culture effectively be transmitted through ICT? To investigate the transmission of culture through ICT, this chapter examines language codes, culture and cross-cultural challenges to communication. Afterward, two commonly used and easily accessible ICTs, the Rosetta Stone and MyLanguageExchange.com, are evaluated for their cognitive development and cultural sensitivity. The chapter will conclude with implications and recommendations to enhance cultural awareness for teachers and students utilizing ICT for foreign language learning.
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Background

Language Codes: The Basis of Effective Communication

When discussing language development, it is important to understand that interpersonal communication is composed of digital and analogical language codes (Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967). The components of digital codes are “arbitrary elements, e.g. rules of grammar, morphophonemic rules, or rules of addition, subtraction and multiplication” (Berger & Bradac, 1982). Another “important property of digital systems is the potential transformation of elements without loss of meaning” (Berger & Bradac, 1982). For this reason, digital codes are designed to express propositional meanings, and it is these propositional meanings that communicate a foundational understanding of the language as a whole. In other words, digital codes are the explicit information foundational to a student’s understanding of a foreign language (Berger & Bradac, 1982).

Analogic codes, on the other hand, “are continuous signals which vary exclusively in terms of intensity and duration” (Berger & Bradac, 1982). These “analogic signals convey information about strength of affect and nature of the relationship between the sender and the receiver of the signal” (Berger & Bradac, 1982; Watzlawick, Beavin, & Jackson, 1967). Additionally, analogic and digital aspects of speech divulge information about communicators which is then used to assess the attitudes, values and background of the speaker (Berger & Bradac, 1982). In other words, it is the analogic signals that are contained within grammatical patterns of the language that communicate the functional meaning and cultural assumptions between speakers.

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