Culture teaching generally focuses on helping foreign language learners develop an understanding of the culture of the target language and, ideally, positive attitudes towards it. In today’s world, the domination of English in entertainment, mass media and new media may sometimes be accompanied by unbalanced views. This interdisciplinary paper draws upon pragmatics, anthropological and cultural studies findings and shows how they can be utilised in language pedagogy. It argues that in a world where non-native speakers of English outnumber native speakers, culture teaching should widen its aims: in addition to helping learners develop positive attitudes towards and knowledge of the culture of the target language, it should also aim to develop a more explicit understanding of the rules of the learners’ own culture. It focuses on the concepts of communicative competence and pragmatic failure, and then presents a model of analysis of Persian culture, analysing the concept and components of ‘face’ and the principles of politeness in Persian (deference, humility and cordiality). It then demonstrates how this analysis can be used to develop classroom strategies.
Keywords: culture/language teaching, pragmatics, Persian deference/face, anthropology.