Wasima Shehzad, Muhammad Safeer Awan


Museums are places where people, living or long gone, leave their linguistic footprints. Those footprints may be found in the ancient or modern manuscripts, or statues in the reading/writing postures in museums. For developing inter-cultural understanding in language teaching classes, various activities can be derived and shaped from the materials available in museums.

It is important especially in our contemporary times where the world is increasing being divided on the lines of ‘cultural-clash thesis’. When the citizens of a society neither share the same language nor the same world-view, there is a greater potential for  miscommunication. This misunderstanding results from uninterepretability stemming from alternative and at times conflicting systems of value and belief (Candlin in Smith, 1987:2). 

The paper presents how ELT classrooms can be used to explore inherited cultures and disposition of its users with varied language backgrounds gaining experience from our museums. Understanding culturally accepted different ways of thinking, reasoning and feeling, and the language used to express them is one of the various aspects of the use of museums apart from their primary purpose of collection and preservation.

When students visit museums, they draw on their natural sensibilities, linguistic knowledge and inherited forms of ‘culturally sanctioned discourse patterns’, thus triggering need to communicate with their teachers as well as peers. Complete understanding of distant civilizations is a difficult task as cultural and discoursal patterns are multilayered and need to be uncovered sequentially. The notion of cultural and linguistic sensibility may be of relevance to a variety of academic disciplines but it certainly has great significance to language learning and teaching. The paper also deals with the pedagogical implications of the discussion.

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