Culture in Russian as a foreign language (RFL) textbooks in Italian universities: Critically analyzing concepts of culture and intercultural competence

Authors

  • Linda Torresin

    Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies, University of Padova

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.59400/fls.v5i2.1759

Abstract

This paper examined the representation of culture in Russian as a foreign language (RFL) textbooks to understand the problem of creating a theory of intercultural textbooks, with Italy as a case study. The four most popular RFL textbooks used by first-year students in Italian universities were studied: PoyekhaliMolodetsMir tesen, and Davayte. A comparative content analysis of the chosen sample was performed to test how Russian culture is represented in RFL textbooks. The results reveal that such textbooks reflect only a partial and sometimes stereotypical image of Russian culture, with a strong correlation between ideologies and bias derived from RFL theories and textbook creation. In other words, these textbooks convey essentialist and/or reductionist views of the culture of Russia (e.g., poor attention paid to the Russophone dimension, stereotypes, and lack of opportunities for intercultural dialogue). The cultural topics contained in the textbooks evaluated do not quite contribute but rather hinder the formation of students' intercultural communicative competence. Therefore, it is argued that the content of an RFL textbook should help students create complex, multilayered notions of Russian and Russophone cultures for themselves.

Keywords:

Russian language teaching; foreign language learning; teaching materials; cultural aspects; intercultural communicative competence; Russophone

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