After having analysed a great amount of literature about the characteristics of culture, cultural awareness and music as a useful teaching tool, I felt that it is worth investigating the topic from different points of view: the teachers’ opinions about the importance of learning culture and integrating culture into the foreign language classroom, and ways of enhancing cultural awareness while teaching a foreign language, seeing how often they include songs to teach English language. At the same time, to have a more complex picture, it is also essential to obtain data about the learners’ views on all the above-mentioned aspects. To achieve these aims I designed and carried out an empirical research.
While investigating the topic I formulated the following hypotheses:
- teachers do not pay enough attention to teaching culture and raising cultural awareness;
- although teaching culture and enhancing cultural awareness by using culture-related songs in the English lesson is beneficial, teachers rarely use them for these purposes;
- learners are not aware of the hidden cultural content of songs while listening to them.
Nine teachers and fifty students from three Transcarpathian grammar schools with Hungarian language instruction participated in the research. The students were chosen for the study because of their age and because of the expected productivity in expressing their own opinion about the importance of culture and cultural awareness related to their lives and to the target language’s culture, as well as in expressing their views on listening to songs for specific purposes in the EFL lessons.
In order to ascertain the participants’ views on teaching culture, cultural awareness, music and songs, and the way they are used in the language learning process, the subjects were asked to complete two questionnaires which were compiled especially for them.
Returning to the hypotheses posed at the beginning of the research, I am now able to state that contrary to expectations, teachers from the three Transcarpathian grammar schools with Hungarian language instruction do pay enough attention to teaching culture and to raise cultural awareness during their English lessons, and they quite often use songs for various teaching purposes because they consider them to be truly useful and beneficial teaching tools. Most of them try to discuss culture-related topics in almost every English lesson, including their own personal experiences of English-speaking countries. It has also been revealed that slightly more than half of the learners are aware of the hidden cultural contents of songs while listening to them, and over one-third of the respondents often search for additional information about the songs.