While "culture" as a word and concept might be hard to define succinctly, there is little argument that it is the linchpin of much of what we do in our language classes. Ask your students why they're studying a language. Odds are that the reason they give will be culturally based: travel, food, music, literature, relationships—all require a particular knowledge not just of the language, but of the cultural particulars of a people and place. That said, how we teach culture remains a thorny issue for all of us.

This module attempted first to demonstrate what we all know intuitively: language and culture are inextricably intertwined and should be taught that way as well. Next, it tried to illustrate how cultural literacy might fit into a language curriculum, even from the first days. And finally, it suggested that using authentic video might serve ideally as the bridge between linguistic content and cultural information in a lively and engaging context. Current applications of Internet and web technology might further serve to promote effective and efficient use of video media to the end of teaching language and culture seamlessly.

Instructor's Final Comments
In his 1984 seminal work on video in language teaching, Jack Lonergan notes: "The speakers in dialogues can be seen and heard; other participants in the situation can be seen. The language learner can readily see the ages of the participants; their sex; perhaps the relationships one to another; their dress, social status, and what they are doing; and perhaps their mood or feelings. Further, paralinguistic information, such as facial expressions or hand gestures, is available to accompany aural clues of intonation." Indeed, all of these advantages of the video medium can be tied back to the subject of our conversation: culture.

It is hoped that this brief foray into the world of cultural literacy and language teaching might inspire you to push the envelope a bit the next time you choose a text or film for your language class. Perhaps you might now think of reshaping your own curricula and syllabi, this time following the maxim, "Where culture leads, language will follow."