I’ve Got a New Attitude: The Influence of Foreign Language Education on Cultural Attitudes
There is much dissention among theorists about whether foreign or second language education influences students’ attitudes toward the target culture and language. Although many foreign language advocates assume that language learning naturally fosters positive cultural attitudes, research findings suggest a wide sample of explanations about the relationship between language learning and cultural attitudes. The examination of prior research into whether foreign language education fosters positive attitudes in students is startlingly contradictory and inconclusive. Conclusions of such research range from assertions that foreign language education enhances appreciation of culture to the assertion that foreign language education actually decreases appreciation of the target culture. A number of relevant variables are hypothesized to influence the relationship between foreign or second language learning and attitudes toward the target culture, the most significant of these being the deliberate addition of cultural instruction into the foreign language curriculum. The author presents research findings that indicate changes in some measures of attitude.