Enhancing Cultural Understanding through Engaged Pedagogy in Language Classes
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Culture and societal issues should be understood as central to education since the issues we encounter as teachers and students are not only the question of right or wrong, but also the fight against the inequality, cultural and religious bias and gender issues alongside empowering the status-quo and voice of students. Hence, it is quite essential for ESL/EFL instructors to recognize and use their own and the learners’ lived experiences as part of their teaching tools to increase students’ cultural sharing attitudes. Culture sharing and understanding among learners are often overlooked in ESL/EFL classes due to the difficulty on the part of teachers to merge it with the regular teaching materials and activities. As a result, students often feel alienated due to sensitive and discriminatory issues like local culture, religion, racism, gender issues and many more. In order to build intercultural competence among learners, it is of significant importance that teachers look into engaged pedagogical activities like active learning and interactive involvement to promote increased culture sharing attitudes among language learners. Since engaged pedagogy is an accumulation of critical, anti-colonialist, feminist and multicultural theories, it significantly empowers students’ values leading towards a better learning and teaching environment. This paper will focus on how engaged pedagogy can be employed keeping in mind Charles Friere’s notion of knowing the ‘why’ of things to boost cultural understanding and attitudes among language learners. Emphasis will be placed on interactive modules, active learning activities, initializing practice from theories and supporting a platform to facilitate cultural practice because it is important to implement culturally responsive language teaching so that teachers better understand the cultural resources students bring to the language classroom. The paper will also reflect on the theories like Critical Pedagogy and Constructivism and its practical implications along with challenges in improving cultural understanding in language learning. Finally the paper will conclude with some suggestive activities and recommendations for promoting cultural understandings among language learners through engaged pedagogy.
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