The Importance of Cross Cultural Understanding in ELT

Citation Suggestion:

Romadhoni, M. Syahrul Z. (2015). The Importance of Cross Cultural Understanding in ELT. Retrieved [date of retrieval] from

Cross Cultural Understanding is very important in English language teaching. Ignoring this understanding will make some fatal errors in the social interaction. The illustration by Subhan (1989) about a university student who made fatal error when talking to a foreign tourist is the best example to show the importance of cultural understanding in ELT.

Robert Lado as quoted by Subhan (2012) argues that teachers should pay attention to the cultural aspects of the target language and the mother tongue. To speak English appropriately, ones should understand the culture of the target language. What is good in one culture may be considered bad in another culture. American will consider the duel between matador and bull a rude action, while the Mexican and the Spanish will see it differently. They think that it is only game and no violence involving in that game. From this explanation, we can know that understanding the culture of the target language plays an important role in making the ELT successful.

Understanding the target language culture also will help the learners know how the native speaker perceives the world. Subhan (1989) writes how people in several regions perceive the cock’s utterance. The Javanese will say “kukluruuk”, while the Sundanese will say “kongkorongok”; the Sumatranese will say “kukukukuruyuuk”. The English, however, will say “cock-a-doddle-doo”.

To sum up, a good speech is the one that is grammatically correct, correctly pronounced, and culturally acceptable and appropriate (Subhan, 2003:66-71).


Subhan, Bustami. 2003. Children Language Acquisition and ELT. Yogyakarta: LPPDMF

________________. 1989. “Pemahaman Lintas Budaya dalam Pengajaran Bahasa Asing.” An article published in Kedaulatan Rakyat, Yogyakarta.


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