The Meaning of Landeskunde vs. Cultural Studies

Teaching Cultural Studies

Essay, 2011

12 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Part
2.1. “Landeskunde”
2.2. Cultural Studies
2.3. Cultural Studies and Foreign Language Teaching
2.4. Problems in Teaching Cultural Studies

3. Methodology

4. Teaching unit
4.1. Teaching Cultural Studies
4.2. Teaching the Culture of Australia

5. Conclusion

6. Works Cited

1. Introduction

This term paper deals with the differentiation between “Landeskunde” and “Cultural Studies”. While Landeskunde is more concerned with the structure of a country and the geographical and political facts, cultural studies also refer to political actions and cultural symbols and interactions.

This topic is very interesting for students and teachers because for many years it was common that Landeskunde was dominating the foreign language lessons. Often students had just to study facts and names while different cultural aspects were disadvantaged. Meanwhile cultural studies are the form, with which students have to deal exploring a different language and its country or culture.

This term paper contains a theoretical part, explaining Landeskunde and cultural studies in general and the difference between them as well as a part with the methodology of teaching these two different approaches to a foreign country and its language. The third part of this paper contains a teaching unit, showing how cultural studies can be taught reasonable and interesting and a conclusion closes the topic in the end.

2. Theoretical Part

2.1. “Landeskunde”

The traditional meaning of “Landeskunde” is based on the learning of facts about the target cultures´ history, politics and social institutions. So the aim of “Landeskunde” was to improve cultural knowledge in foreign language learning.

Landeskunde changes over time as the country does, too. A previous knowledge and prejudices always exist in the student´s minds, often confirmed through media. Even books, which deal with teaching Landeskunde, are not objective. The authorship coins them with their own opinion, most of the time not even aware of doing so.

Soon it got clear that not only the theoretical facts or institutions are part of the culture of a country, but it also contains the characters, ways of life, philosophy, arts and furthermore.

2.2. Cultural Studies

In opposition to the traditional Landeskunde, cultural studies offer an overview of the conflicts of a country, of the cultural symbols and actions as well as of “the question of power“(Müller-Hartmann and Schocker-v.Ditfurth 2009: 111). Media is important in conveying these meanings. In the 1960s the role of class was an important aspect for cultural studies and meanwhile gender and ethnicity are also considered.

Cultural studies combine many areas and many societies within a country. They explore the relation between cultural practices, everyday life, economic, political, geographical and historical contexts. They deal with how a society creates and shares meaning. It is seen as a field concerned with the role of social institutions and dealing with ethnicity, class and gender in the production of cultural knowledge.

Teaching cultural studies thus means looking at issues from different points of view and keeping the history of a culture meanwhile in mind. Culture is no longer a static concept, but an energetic one which changes over time.

This leads to the consideration of all text forms while teaching cultural studies, so fictional and non-fictional texts, which allows the learners to develop the competence of critical cultural awareness. Texts refer to other texts or to non-literary texts which let the students establish multiple perspectives and thus understand an issue more clearly.

2.3. Cultural Studies and Foreign Language Teaching

“English and English teaching in these terms has been considered intrinsically good for the world, a key aspect of global development […]” (Pennycook 1994: 6).

Most of the people studying foreign cultures are studying the cultures because they are foreign language learners. The process of language acquisition and the personal development of foreign culture students may take place at different steps and probably that has to be considered teaching cultural studies. So the teacher has to think about when to teach what exactly.

For teachers of foreign languages cultural studies are essential not only as part of their own learning process but also “with respect to their methods of teaching language and culture to others” (Bassnett 2003: 57).

Foreign language teaching and its purposes, including cultural studies, may vary. Sometimes it is part of the obligatory education, sometimes just a help for the personal development or professional career. Nevertheless the language in question is often spoken in more than one country, so that it is possible to choose at which country one wants to take a closer look at.

Historical and cultural background is important for the students as support to gain and develop a deep and better understanding of what is told and also about linguistics.

2.4. Problems in Teaching Cultural Studies

Problems in teaching cultural studies may appear because students have often already an opinion of a country or a culture. So it could be the case that one as the teacher has to change or to neutralize this opinion to be able to work effective with the students.

Often different cultures are misunderstood because just the popular stereotypes are known and believed in.

Another problem may be the relation between language and the material with which one deal in class. Sometimes the students are not ready to understand everything that is said in texts or cartoons or cannot identify the right message because their English is not good enough, so one has to be careful which material one choose to present a culture.

It is also difficult to present culture with texts because every culture has its own way to perceive the message of a text and that means that people from different cultures can perceive the message in another way. So there has always to be made clear, from which perspective a text hast to be looked at.

The “problem of cultural change” (Barker 2003: 32) is also to consider. A culture or a nation always develops and creates new aspects or symbols or problems which can be interpret. A culture is dynamic and there always have to be new strategies how to work that out with students. If a different culture is seen as something static and not dynamic or fluid, many actual aspects of it could be forgotten.

The most important problem which may arise is that not everything which is claimed in texts or pictures or even books is true. Often the authorship coins the books with its personal opinion and authors or photographers or painters are also not objective dealing with a culture. It is important to know and to make clear, that the material with which students have to work has to be dealt with critical and seen from their perspective.

Many teachers let their students just compare their culture with the culture of a country where the target language is spoken. So the students have to find differences and similarities in different cultures. It might happen that they “oversimplify the richness and variety within cultures” (Guest 2002: 154) during this process. It could happen that their understanding ends up more in a caricature of a culture than in a real, deep understanding.

3. Methodology

“It can be argued that the methodology of teaching should emphasize the way in which the ability to communicate with others is generalizable, rather than concentrating on any one culture- even the culture of the learners´ own environment- in all its complexity” (Bassnett 2003: 58). So it is not necessary, to concentrate in detail on the culture of a country. It is more important, to give students a general overview of the culture of a country speaking the English language and make them able to communicate with other people speaking English.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


The Meaning of Landeskunde vs. Cultural Studies
Teaching Cultural Studies
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen  (Anglistik)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
419 KB
Landeskunde, Cultural Studies, Teaching
Quote paper
Anastasia Wolter (Author), 2011, The Meaning of Landeskunde vs. Cultural Studies, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Meaning of Landeskunde vs. Cultural Studies

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free