ile the post-test is 75.29, 5.35 higher than the pre-test, which shows that students have made progress in the scores of the final exam. On the other hand, for Table 2, the pre-test is 69.88, while the post-test is 78.72, 8.84 higher than the pre-test, which shows that students in the experimental class made more progress in the scores of the final exam. As there is a lot of culture-related content in the placement test and the final exam, such as reading comprehension, passage translation, etc. we may conclude that although the control class students’ score improved after a term’s study, the culture-oriented approaches contribute more to the development of students’ cross-cultural communication ability.

As for the standard deviation, the control class is 1.470 and 5.611, while the experimental class is 1.585 and 5.606. Both Table 1 and Table 2 show that the score gap of each student in this aspect is increasing, which is not a good phenomenon. But my interview with the students reveals that some students felt rather relaxed after being enrolled in the university and didn’t work as hard as they did in senior high school, which led to the decrease of their score in the final exam. Some other students were puzzled by the new environment, and didn’t know how to make full use of their free time to study well. Therefore the interview justifies the increase of the standard deviation in Table 1 and Table 2.

After one term’s experimental teaching and the final exam, I did a questionnaire on the students from the experimental class. Here is the result:

2) How will culture-oriented approaches contribute to the development of students’ cross-cultural communication ability?

Firstly, I asked them to answer this yes or no question: Do you like learning cultural knowledge from my English class? If your answer is No, please go on to answer the first group of questions, which involves some typical reasons why the student doesn’t like learning cultural knowledge from my English class. The result is that only 3 students answered “No” among 60 students. The number is so small that I haven’t analyzed their reasons.

Table 1. Statistics comparison of the control class between the pre-test and the post-test.

Table 2. Statistics comparison of the experimental class between the pre-test and the post- test.

Second, If your answer is yes, please move on to answer the second group of questions, which intends to survey to what extent each culture-oriented approach contributes to the development of students’ cross-cultural communication ability. My question is:

How much cross-cultural knowledge do you think you have learned from different steps of my English teaching? For each question, If you have learned the most, you should choose answer 5. Likewise, if you have learned the least, you should choose answer 1. Otherwise, you should choose answer 2, 3, or 4 according to your own situation.

Altogether 60 students submitted their answers, and I did some statistical analysis of them. The following tables show the series of result from my analysis (Tables 3-13).

Frequency tables:

Table 3. Listen to the duty report.

Table 4. Listen to the text background information.

Table 5. Listen to the explanation to Text A &Text B.

Table 6. Join in the online instruction activities.

Table 7. Take the oral English class.

Table 8. Do exercises after each text.

Table 9. Join in the pair work.

Table 10. Join in the class discussion.

Table 11. Prepare for my duty report or host/hostess task.

Table 12. Take the listening class in the computer room.

Table 13. Take the self-study class in the computer room.

5. Findings and Discussion

This statistical analysis result is consistent with the result of my interview with my students. Both results show that:

1) Students are interested in cultural-oriented teaching, because only 3 students say they don’t like learning cross-cultural knowledge from my English class;

2) What students like most is learning cultural knowledge by doing and exploring, because more than 70 percent of students say they have learned a lot of cross-cultural knowledge from preparing for their duty report or host/hostess work of the online instruction, which is the highest among all the teaching approaches; Students also give the positive feedback to self-access study in the computer classroom. This result proves Krashen, Swain, Harmer’s theories and constructivism learning theories, because in the computer classroom, the students may control the learning content and time by themselves and get the most effective language input. Doing duty reports and hosting the online instructions are realistic and interactive learning activities, and students are free to choose their favorite topics to talk about and discuss with their classmates. Besides, in order to perform well and leave good impressions on the teacher and classmates, the duty reporters and online instruction hosts usually make efforts to prepare for their presentation or discussion. As a result, the students are greatly involved in such activities and have learned the most from such culture-oriented approaches.

3) The students’ opinions disagree on some teaching approaches, such as listen to the duty report, background introduction, and other traditional ways of teaching. These approaches tend to directly impart knowledge to students, and leave little time for students to reflect and explore, so that some students feel less challenging and interesting. But other students are accustomed to the traditional learning strategy of listening to the teacher and taking notes and memorizing language points, therefore they can still learn a lot from the traditional approach.

4) What students learn least from is online instruction, pair work, and class discussion. These are interactive activities, so that only those students who have fully prepared and are active in such activities can learn a lot. Therefore such approaches are less productive in my class mainly for the following reasons: First, I didn’t tell them exactly how their performance would be related to their final score so that they didn’t feel the pressure to actively join in and earn their score. Second, they are non-English majors and have to spend a lot of time in learning the subjects most closely related to their major. Third, due to the poor preparation and weak motivation, the students feel it hard to freely express their ideas in English, and don’t feel embarrassed when they can’t find the exact words and sentence patterns to speak out their mind.

6. Pedagogical Implications

My third research question is about the pedagogical implications of my research:

3) What is the pedagogical implication of culture-oriented approaches’ contribution to fostering students’ cross-cultural communication ability?

Based on the above data analysis, the author suggests that the college English teachers learn from the following positive and negative pedagogical implications. They may adopt some effective culture-oriented approaches, and do further research to overcome the weak points of other less effective approaches so as to further foster students’ cross-cultural communication ability.

In the future, the author should continue to adopt some effective culture-oriented approaches, such as duty report, online instruction host, etc. Meanwhile, she should also improve some traditional teaching approaches, for instance, ask the students to comment on the duty report, search information about the cultural background, compare the differences and similarities between Chinese and western culture, comment on western culture, etc.

In addition, it’s necessary to apply more approaches to motivate the students to become interested in the cultural activities in the classroom and online instructions. For example, the author may ask the students some interesting questions or let them play some games before she presents the background introduction to them. She may also use some beautiful pictures, humorous videos to teach them cultural background knowledge. During their pair work and discussion, she should offer examples and timely instruction or encouragement. She may ask the students to discuss about when to tolerate and assimilate the foreign culture and when to stick to our own culture in the process of cross-cultural communication, etc.

In a word, cultural awareness had always been regarded as an important concept in applied linguistics [9] . College English teachers should enrich their own knowledge about foreign culture and English language while improving their teaching methods so as to foster college students’ awareness of cultural comparison, and act as a better English learning designer, cooperator, and facilitator in the process of English learning.

Cite this paper

Libin Duan, (2016) A Study of Fostering College English Students’ Awareness of Cultural Comparison in Chinese Classrooms. Open Journal of Social Sciences,04,99-108. doi: 10.4236/jss.2016.45013

References

  1. 1. Higher Education Department of Education Ministry (2004) College English Curriculum Requirements (For Trial Implementation). Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, Shanghai.

  2. 2. Pearsall, J., Ed. (2001) The New Oxford Dictionary of English. Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, Shanghai, 447.

  3. 3. Tylor, E. (1871) Primitive Culture. John Murray, London, 36.

  4. 4. Kramsch, C. (2000) Language and Culture. Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, Shanghai.

  5. 5. Krashen, S. (1981) Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Pergamon Press, New York.

  6. 6. Swain, M. (1995) Three Functions of Output in Second Language Learning. In: Cook, G. and Seidlhofer, B., Eds., Principle and Practice in Applied Linguistics Studies in Honour of H.G. Widdowson, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 125-144.

  7. 7. Harmer, J. (2000) How to Teach English. Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Beijing.

  8. 8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(philosophy_of_education)

  9. 9. Hall, J.K. (2005) Teaching and Researching Language and Culture. Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Beijing.

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