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Cultural Literacy Understanding Language & Idioms.

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1 Cultural Literacy Understanding Language & Idioms

2 What is Cultural Literacy? According to Wikipedia, “Cultural Literacy is the ability to converse fluently in the idioms, allusions and informal content which creates and constitutes a dominant Culture. From being familiar with street signs to knowing historical reference to understanding the most recent slang, literacy demands interaction with the culture and reflection of it. A knowledge of a canonical set of literature is not valuable when engaging with others in a society if the knowledge stops at the end of the text — as life is interwoven with art, expression, history and experience, cultural literacy requires the broad range of trivia and the use of that trivia in the creation of a communal language and a collective knowledge. Cultural literacy stresses the knowledge of those pieces of information which content creators will assume the audience already possesses.”

3 Language & Culture One aspect of Cultural Literacy is how Language is affected by culture. As stated in the Article Literacy for the 21st Century Language Learner, “Every language teacher knows that just because you can understand the media or speak the language doesn’t mean that you understand the culture well enough to live in it, work in it, or contribute to it.” –Idioms, for example, are just one aspect of language that are affected by and contribute to culture.

4 Idioms & Cultural Literacy According to the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, “An idiom is a group of words with a special meaning of its own that is not clear from the meanings of the individual words. Idioms are used extensively in conversations, , presentations, newspapers, magazines, and films. If you don’t understand the idiom, you can feel left out of the conversation or presentation since the idiom is often the “point” of the sentence.” All languages have idiomatic expressions; however, idioms are used very frequently in American culture, especially American business culture. You can learn idioms over time after immersion in a culture, and once you become more aware of idiomatic expressions, you will notice them more easily in conversations and newspapers.

5 Common American English Idioms Apple of one’s eye Break the ice Bone to pick Bury the hatchet Chip off the old block Come out of the closet Down in the dumps Draw the line Eat humble pie Fair-weather friend Fifth wheel Get something off one’s chest Go off the deep end Hit below the belt In the dog house In the hot seat Jack of all trades Kick the bucket Kill two birds with one stone The last laugh The last straw Make ends meet Make my day No- brainier On pins and needles Pull somebody’s leg Put your foot in your mouth Raining cats and dogs Run in the mill Skeleton in the closet Slit hairs Take the bull by the horns Tip of the iceberg Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve Wolf in sheep’s clothing

6 Selected Idioms in American Literature Culture: Definitions & Literal Meanings IdiomDefinitionLiteral Meaning Let the Cat out of the Bag To disclose a secret To allow or permit a feline to exit a receptacle Climb on the Bandwagon To join a particular cause or political party To escalate or scale a large four-wheeled vehicle designed to be pulled Beat Around the Bush To avoid getting to the point of an issue To strike violently near a shrub/ bush Cold Turkey to withdraw suddenly and completely from an addictive substance or some other form of dependency A type of poultry having a relatively low temperature Under the Weather Indisposed, unwell Beneath climactic and atmospheric conditions Tall Tale An exaggerated, unreliable story A big, Towering narrative

7 Idioms & English Language Learners Idioms are multiword units in which the combination of words have a unitary cultural meaning. For example, the unitary meaning of under the weather is to feel ill. It is the unitary cultural meaning of idioms that makes them particularly troublesome for English language learners since the meaning cannot normally be guessed by the meaning of the words that make them up. Often, English language learners are misled by what appears to be a transparent literal meaning of idioms such as to have cold feet (to lack courage), or to tighten one’s belt (to be more economical).

8 Idioms & ELL Accommodations According to Celce-Murcia, “A regular program of listening can extend learners’ vocabulary and use of idioms and build their appreciation for cultural nuances.” When giving forms of standardized tests, teachers should be aware of the importance of teaching about idioms. Understanding idioms can help demystify culturally laden vocabulary for ELL students. Evaluation instruments should be comprised of neutral language, avoiding the use of slang, and idioms. This does not negate reference to culture, but may mean accommodating the student through translation.

9 Understanding Different Languages & Cultures Through Popular Phrases, Expressions, & Idioms! Idioms are used on a daily basis in many countries and languages. The messages they convey are often universal, and many other cultures have their equivalents. What makes idioms unique is the way the messages are expressed, and the choice of words, which generally expose traces of culture.

10 Portuguese Idioms Common Portuguese Idioms expose traces of culture centered around farming, fishing, and Catholicism. Examples of Portuguese Idioms: Armar-se em carapau de corrida He's like a racing mackerel. The mackerel is not exactly a noble fish. So a racing mackerel - a mackerel who's swimming faster than the others - is a person who thinks he's a big shot but, in fact, is a nobody. Estás a meter água... You're letting water in... You don't know what you're talking about or you're making a fool of yourself. This means that you're disgracing yourself, you're letting water in - like a boat that's about to sink.

11 German Idioms The German language is rich in idioms and you may have trouble understanding the language if you do not know its idiomatic expressions. Nowadays, most German idioms do not make sense when we look at their literal translation because they refer to language structures or cultural aspects that are not relevant anymore Common German Idioms: Hals ber Kopf (neck over head) in a mad hurry sich keine grauen Haare über etwas wachsen lassen (not to let gray hair grow on one's head over something) not to loose any sleep over something

12 Swedish Idioms Common Swedish Idioms: Ge mig krattan (Give me the rake) Let's shake hands Slå dig ner (Beat your self down) Sit down, please Det var som katten (That was like the cat) that's amazing!

13 Spanish Idioms Common Spanish Idioms: Le patina el coco (His coconut (head) slips) He has a screw loose Saberlo de buena fuente (To know it from a good source) To hear it straight from the horse's mouth Sacarse el gordo (To draw the fat one) To hit the jackpot

14 French Idioms Common French Idioms: Poser un lapin (To leave a rabbit) To stand someone up Faire un boeuf (Make a beef) To Improvise Faire un bide (To make a big belly) To fail, flop

15 How Culturally Literate are You? Take this Quiz to test your knowledge of popular phrases, expressions, & idioms in American literature culture! Cultural Literacy Test

16 Works Cited Celce- Murcia, Marianne. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. 3rd edition. Ontario: Thomson Learning, "cultural literacy." Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7). Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. 24 Mar literacy "Cultural Literacy Test." The Literacy Company The Literacy Company, inc.. 24 Mar E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy 3rd ed. (Houghton Mifflin) 2002.E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy 3rd ed. (Houghton Mifflin) "German Idioms." Learning Plus. March LearnPlus Ltd.. 26 Mar Schirato T. & Yell, S. (1996). Communication & Cultural Literacy: An Introduction. St. Leonard: Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd. In Sankey, Michael D. (2000). Considering visual literacy when designing instruction, p. 3. Retrieved May 2, 2005, from Wikipedia Mar 2008.With shadow Celce- Murcia, Marianne. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. 3rd edition. Ontario: Thomson Learning, "cultural literacy." Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7). Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. 24 Mar literacy "Cultural Literacy Test." The Literacy Company The Literacy Company, inc.. 24 Mar E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy 3rd ed. (Houghton Mifflin) 2002.E. D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, James Trefil, The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy 3rd ed. (Houghton Mifflin) "German Idioms." Learning Plus. March LearnPlus Ltd.. 26 Mar Schirato T. & Yell, S. (1996). Communication & Cultural Literacy: An Introduction. St. Leonard: Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd. In Sankey, Michael D. (2000). Considering visual literacy when designing instruction, p. 3. Retrieved May 2, 2005, from Wikipedia Mar 2008.With shadow


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