Culture and language learning: Teaching, research and scholarship

Michael Byram, Anwei Feng

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


This review of work on the cultural dimension of language teaching updates one from 1986 and shows that there has been a considerable growth in interest since then. The focus has been largely on the elaboration of conceptual models and theories and the development of teaching and training approaches; much less effort has been devoted to empirical research investigating the impact of such developments and building up a body of knowledge. In order to promote an agenda for research as well as reporting on what has been done, we make a distinction between research and scholarship, between investigating what is and developing what ought to be happening in teaching and learning. We also distinguish between work on foreign language and second language teaching, a sociological distinction important in the cultural dimension. In the final part of the article we analyse teaching and curriculum development reported in the literature, and find an emphasis on approaches which draw on ethnographic techniques and theory, on approaches from critical theory and the politics of language teaching, and on teaching of cultural knowledge. There is more need, we argue, for interaction between those who teach in general education and those who work in cross-cultural training in the business world. Finally we point out that the cultural dimension of language teaching is value-laden, that researchers need to be aware of this and of the inevitability of engagement with values in teaching and researching the cultural dimension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-168
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage Teaching
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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