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EFL teachers' perceptions of the place of culture in ELT : a survey study at four universities in Ankara/Turkey

Önalan, Okan
This study aims to investigate Turkish teachers̕ opinions and beliefs on the place of target cultural information in English language teaching, as well as their related practices and applications in EFL classrooms in Turkish higher education context. Particularly, it tries to explore three research questions: (a) How do Turkish teachers of English define culture? (b) What are the EFL teachers̕ attitudes towards incorporating cultural information into their teaching? and (c) What role do they allocate to the culture of the target language in their classrooms? Data was collected from 98 randomly selected EFL teachers in the Preparatory (Hazirlik) Programs of four universities (Hacettepe University, Middle East Technical University, Ankara University, and Baskent University) in Ankara. A written survey questionnaire, including structured items, a rating scale and a Likerttype attitude scale, together with a follow-up interview were used as the two data collection methods. The analyses were carried out by frequency counts of the predetermined choices in the items and the related responses that were given to questions of the interview. The study shows that teachers mostly define culture in the sociological sense, such as values and beliefs. Their definition of culture in the framework of ELT slightly shifts towards more visible culture, such as food and clothing. The study also reveals teachers̕ positive attitudes towards incorporating cultural information in their instruction. Teachers incorporate cultural knowledge to increase the learners̕ awareness of other cultures and people for intellectual development, and to improve learners̕ communicative competence.