Ideas for Teaching Canada in the EFL Classroom

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2007

18 Pages, Grade: 1,0



1. A Glance at Cultural Studies

2. Introducing Canada – Considerations in Advance

3. Elements of an Exemplary Instructional Unit
3.1 Introducing the Topic
3.2 A Literary Basis
3.3 Dealing with New Media
3.4 Re-thinking Stereotypes
3.5 Christmas ‘small c’ culture: Bob & Doug Mckenzie
3.6 Multiculturalism and Canada’s Exemplary Status
3.7 Testing the Learners’ Knowledge and Skills

4. A Model Syllabus

5. References


1. A Glance at Cultural Studies

Cultures can be seen as “open, wide-ranging and complex systems shaping the lives of human beings and being shaped by them in turn” (Delanoy & Volkmann: 11), which are “subject to continuous change, and […] reactivated and redefined by concrete people”. (id.: 12). With the introduction of intercultural learning to German classrooms in the 1980s, the traditional facts-based branch of Landeskunde has gradually changed to approach the English speaking cultures via the less idealising methods of Cultural studies. (cf. ibid.).

Since the study of the Anglophone cultures within the EFL classroom confronts the pupils with such complex systems which they are unfamiliar with, the teacher is not any more only a model speaker of English or a source of information, but becomes the guide and mediator through a tangle of possibly alien cultural conceptions. The aim of EFL is thus no more the mere combination of a linguistic competence in the foreign language with a factual knowledge of the target culture; instead, Cultural Studies are aiming at a multicultural and intercultural competence of the learners: firstly, they must know about the target society and its ethnic groups with their codes of behaviour and communicative exigencies, unwritten rules as well as non-linguistic behaviour. Secondly, the learners must develop intercultural skills such as relation and identification, analysis and interpretation, discovery, and interaction. Thirdly, different attitudes should be fostered, such as openness, motivation, curiosity, disbelief, as well as an awareness of culture(s) and cross-cultural differences and the willingness to compare and judge these differences. (cf. Doff: 123sq., cf. Sommer: 25).

Ambitious as these aims may seem, one can argue that despite “the variety of problems involved in understanding other cultures, […] an understanding among cultures is possible ‘because we all inhabit a common world’” (Klippel quoted after Doff: 123). The main question that is left is with which means best to approach these aims: “Cultural Studies being very diverse, research objects could consist of manners of speech, a text or a group of texts or different media formats, e.g. feature films, documentaries, soap operas, cartoons or posters, photographs, paintings or caricatures.” (Teske: 28)

2. Introducing Canada – Considerations in Advance

Several current curricula for the German secondary EFL classroom (Rahmenrichtlinien) now include some of the so-called new English cultures, like Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Especially Canada, considering its geographical and cultural proximity to the nowadays almost omnipresent USA, presents itself as a natural addition to the “traditional” Anglophone cultures.

Of course, a conception of introducing Canada to EFL must decide on which aspects of this target culture are to be accentuated. “Facts about target culture(s) in the EFL classroom should not only refer to a country’s history, architecture, geography and society (Culture with a capital ‘C’), but also to everyday life (culture with a small ‘c’) […]” (Doff: 122). Bearing this argument in mind, I argue in favour of a didactic approach not only via history, geography, or any other specific ‘Cultural’ aspect alone, but via a mixture of both ‘big c’ Culture and ‘small c’ culture using a selection of different authentic media and texts.

So if any, which common denominator should the selected texts have? As Gross (122) puts it:

An important task of foreign language educators is to alert their students to the role which fear of, and fascination with, an other can play in fomenting ethnic stereotypes. Taking up Lothar Bredella’s model of intercultural understanding they could point out that stereotypes are defences and the fortress of one’s own tradition. At the same time students should learn to see stereotypes in a reflective and self-critical way by acknowledging that their perception of other cultures is coloured by their own cultural background and that all cultures are creative attempts to order reality.

Even though stereotypes are often condemned as mere clichés or prejudices, one should not forget that they need not necessarily be negative or untrue. “Stereotyping can be seen as the cognitive part of the process of screening the other, while prejudice represents its affective part, as it instrumentalizes stereotypical views for various purposes” (ibid.). Following these arguments, one can claim that working with stereotypes can foster reflective and self-critical thinking and facilitate the learners’ coming to terms with a culture alien to them.

Of course, within an approach inspired by cultural studies, pupils should not be simplistically presented with stereotypes as objective criteria, but induced to pursue a critical analysis of the national and ethnic stereotypes constituting in this case the images foreigners have of Canada and its inhabitants (hetero-stereotypes) as well as the images that Canadians have of their country and of themselves (auto-stereotypes), since “all associations of place, people, and culture are social and historical creations to be explained, not given natural facts.” (Gupta/Ferguson quoted after Fillitz: 29).

By which means then should one lead the learners to take up a critical stance towards the stereotypes of another culture? As Gross (130) bluntly puts it: “One should not overtax the students’ willingness to step across cultural borders by stuffing too many serious texts down their throats.” That is why the following chapter will present different possible texts and media focussing mostly on ‘small c’ culture, leaving the teacher with the choice of including further “serious” texts to also deal with history, geography, music, arts, etc.

3. Elements of an Exemplary Instructional Unit

3.1 Introducing the Topic

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

“In the next lessons we will be talking about Canada. This is the Canadian flag.” – Such could be the opening sentence for a unit on Canada in the EFL, probably provoking mild protests from the part of the learners in reaction to the final statement above. The teacher could then ask about the ‘real’ flag of Canada, let one of the learners draw it, or present an illustration of it in direct confrontation with the Red Ensign shown above. The instructor could then clarify what the ‘fake’ flag of Canada is (namely the unofficial Canadian flag from 1868 to 1965, i.e. for nearly a hundred years), inform about Flag Day on February 15, and ask the learners to point out what symbols they recognise on the flag, e.g. the British Union Jack, the Canadian maple leaves, the Irish harp, perhaps even the French lilies or the English/Scottish lion(s), and enquire into the possible meaning of this flag’s and the current Canadian flag’s single parts. Also a comparison with the symbolic meanings of the British, US or German flag would be possible, since German pupils oftentimes don’t have the faintest idea of their own country’s flag. (Which especially for Thuringian pupils might be considered a little embarrassing, recalling the student leagues (Burschenschaften) of Jena or events like the Wartburgfest.)


Excerpt out of 18 pages


Ideas for Teaching Canada in the EFL Classroom
College  (Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik)
Teaching the New English Cultures
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
2340 KB
Dozent: "Excellent material, well presented, cogent and convincing."
Canada, Classroom, English, Cultures, Intercultural, Interkulturelles, interkulturelle Kompetenz, Landeskunde, Cultural Studies, New English Cultures, Kanada
Quote paper
Volker Lorenz (Author), 2007, Ideas for Teaching Canada in the EFL Classroom, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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