Teaching Culture in U.S. Foreign Language Classrooms: Meeting Goals of Intercultural Competence?


Culture, classroom, K-12 learners, national standards for foreign language learning, perspectives


The National Standards for Foreign Language Learning seeks to prepare U.S. students to be “culturally equipped to communicate successfully in a pluralistic American society and abroad” (American Council on Foreign Language Learning, 1996). Each of the five areas, Communication, Culture, Connections, Communities, and Comparisons, articulates a goal related to the culture and there is at least one cultural sub-standard under each of the other goal areas (Galeano, 2013). Even with such a stated focus on preparing students to function in a multicultural, multilingual world, language teaching, or focusing on the grammatical elements of the target language, continues to be prioritized in U.S. foreign language classrooms. This study analyzes whether U.S. teachers continue to present information about target cultures at the surface level or whether they lead students to a deeper understanding of how cultural products, practices, and perspectives are related. It also examines whether or not teachers who have spent time living or studying abroad approach the teaching of culture differently from those who have not.