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Teachers as Mediators in the Foreign Language Classroom

Foreign Language Classroom

Within the field of both teaching and learning, language is among the fundamental concepts that aid the process. However, for the efficiency of understanding, language often incorporates certain aspects of culture. This is because the relationship that exists between language and culture forms the core concepts of understanding language during the learning process. Understanding of language on the other hand varies thus the two categories used in classifying language portrays language either as a code or as a social semiotic. As a code, language is assumed to be a static and self-contained part of knowledge. Knowledge of the structural elements of the code is what is meant by knowing a language. In this view, language is understood as a code or system for labelling the world. According to Chomsky, (1965), the human brain was hardwired for language and its development was largely autonomic. As a social semiotic on the other hand, language is viewed as a system of signs put together to represent particular meanings. In order to understand language therefore, context is very important in determining how meaning is made. Knowledge about language therefore comprises of both the active use and the meaning making process

Culture on the other hand can be largely grouped as facts and information and also as a social semiotic. In the facts and information view, culture is the shared attributes of a particular group of people. This attributes are often shared by individuals living in a particular geographical location. This view of culture puts emphasis on static aspects therefore this knowledge can be acquired through observation and factual knowledge acquisition. In the course of language teaching however, these views of culture have been criticized for being static because they tend to put more focus on the similarities and differences among the diverse cultures. Culture as a social semiotic on the other hand views