Cultural Instruction on Language Learning in Libya

Abstract

This thesis is dedicated to the introduction of cultural elements into English language learning with particular reference to English language lessons in the secondary schools of Libya. The aim is to examine the current practice of culture-focused lessons in Libya and the suggestions for its improvement. Based on the works of Byram (2008) and Kramsch (2014), as well as other crucial literature devoted to the topic, the project incorporates three key sections of research. First, an analysis of the content of Libyan textbooks is carried out to determine the presence of cultural aspects there. Then, a survey of 100 Libyan teachers is developed, providing expert opinions on the topic. Finally, an experiment is reported which involves 56 Tripoli students from a secondary school in Libya. 27 of them were provided culture-focused lessons to determine the related effects. The rest of the students formed the control group.

The results indicate that Libyan textbooks include cultural content, but both teachers and students are generally dissatisfied with it. Furthermore, both students and teachers acknowledged the need for the integration of culture in EFL lessons, and the experiment showed that the experimental culture-focused lessons improved the students’ proficiency and interest in learning English. However, the teachers reported important barriers to the introduction of culture into EFL education, including the lack of training for the educators, which affected their ability to work with culture-related themes. This work includes the chapters which present the literature review, methodology, and findings of the project, as well as the results’ discussion and relevant implications with recommendations for practice and future research.

Introduction

This paper presents an investigation devoted to cultural instruction in Foreign Language Learning. In particular, the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes in Libya will be reviewed. This section will describe the research background, state the problem addressed in the study, and specify the research questions. Additionally, it will explain the methodology and organization used for the research to provide a general overview of the project.

Research Background

Personal experience as a learner/teacher of English and Arabic

The primary reason for the development of this research stems from my personal interest in and experience of learning and teaching EFL, which prompted my reflection on the topic. I have taught English in a secondary school and Arabic in the Missouri Southern State University. My personal learning experience was predominantly associated with the grammar-translation method; at the time, it was a very common approach in Libya. However, this method did not prepare me for communicating in English, which became a crucial skill for me when I traveled to the UK in 2006. In addition, the cultural shock was palpable during that visit to the UK. I had to cope with the problems on my own, and it was not a pleasant experience.

In 2008, I became a professor at the Missouri Southern University, which required traveling to the US. By the time, I had expanded my communicative skills, but I was still worried about the cultural aspect. Fortunately, I was offered a special course aimed at helping me to learn more about American culture and adjust to living in American society. As a result, I learned that cultural instruction can be important for communication and is capable of facilitating it.

In addition to that, as a professor of Arabic at the Missouri Southern University, I was encouraged by my employers to integrate cultural instruction into my lessons. I experimented: I used different teaching aids like videos and audio recordings, discussed a variety of topics, and engaged my students in various ways. The process was interesting to the students and me, which helped me to realize that cultural instruction can be a powerful tool in motivating people to learn more about a country or culture and, among other things, the related language.

Additionally, I wanted to note that culture learning is best illustrated by a lived experience, which is unique for every learner. One needs to personally appreciate the ways in which cultural awareness can enhance one’s ability to communicate regardless of the context in which it is acquired. Through my experience, I was able to gain a greater understanding of the effectiveness of different approaches to teaching. Furthermore, I recognized the problem of miscommunication and its ability to prevent or negatively affect the interaction of people from different cultures. Most importantly, I was able to see that the solution to this issue could be found. I want to contextualize this experience with the help of relevant literature and research, and the present study describes my attempt at achieving this outcome.

Integrating target culture in ESL/EFL contexts

The understanding of the connections between culture and language became actively applied to language teaching by the end of the previous century (Kramsch & Hua, 2016, p. 38). As a result, the integration of culture in EFL or English as a Second Language (ESL) lessons is still under investigation. Despite the presence of literature on the topic (Kiss & Weninger, 2016), there are still many areas of cultural integration that need additional research. They include the question of how to develop intercultural competencies and how to teach students about culture-related aspects in EFL/ESL contexts (Kramsch, 2013). In fact, even the definition of culture has been described as “elusive”: the definition of this concept is still being debated and requires an extensive consideration of relevant literature and context (Kiss & Weninger, 2016, p. 186). In other words, the topic of culture in ESL/EFL still needs some additional coverage in modern research.

Certain problems are encountered when introducing culture into EFL. First of all, the types of culture to be taught and ways of teaching it are an object of ongoing debates. Furthermore, apart from the relative lack of theoretical underpinnings, the practice of integrating culture in EFL stems from the lack of experience in teachers, the lack of enthusiasm in some learners (Kramsch, 2013), and resource-related concerns. Additionally, there is the problem of the potential clash in values that can be conveyed through language (Kramsch & Hua, 2016), although it should be noted that the development of cultural competence helps students to become more culturally aware and tolerant.

Due to the tendency for globalization and the growing diversity of communities, the integration of culture into EFL/ESL lessons becomes increasingly significant as specialists all over the world acknowledge the fact that language and culture are interconnected (Kramsch, 2014; Kramsch & Hua, 2016). What is particularly important is that cultural awareness is shown to be crucial for successful communication (Byram, 2008; Kiss & Weninger, 2016), and its lack tends to cause difficulties, including those connected to different values as expressed in language (Kramsch, 2013). Given the fact that the primary goal of EFL/ESL lessons is to provide students with the skills necessary for successful communication, the importance of cultural competence becomes apparent. To sum up, the topic of the integration of culture into EFL/ESL courses is vital to consider, which justifies the present research.

Statement of the Problem

The project aims to explore how culture is currently integrated into secondary school EFL courses by Libyan teachers, as well as how students and teachers perceive this integration and the means of improving it. More specifically, the following research questions have been proposed.

  1. Do Libyan textbooks for EFL classes integrate culture? If so, what aspects of culture do they integrate?
  2. Do Libyan EFL teachers incorporate culture into their lessons? If so, what aspects of culture do they address? What methods and sources do they use to integrate culture into their lessons? How often do they incorporate cultural events into their lessons?
  3. What EFL sources affect students’ awareness of the culture of English-speaking countries?
  4. What are the attitudes and beliefs of teachers and students with respect to the incorporation of culture in EFL lessons in Libya?
  5. Based on the perspectives of Libyan teachers and students, is the integration of culture in EFL lessons important?
  6. Can the incorporation of culture in EFL lessons have positive outcomes? Can it improve language proficiency? Can it motivate students to learn English?
  7. How can EFL lessons in Libya incorporate culture more effectively?

Methodology and Means of Research

The study employed mixed methods to respond to the above questions. First, the analysis of the content of Libyan textbooks was carried out in accordance with specifically developed criteria to create the categories of cultural materials that are used in them. This method was employed to respond to the first question and allowed determining whether Libyan textbooks integrate culture. Then, the study recruited 100 English language teachers from Libya who were asked to complete a survey dedicated to the topic of cultural instruction in EFL in Libya. This allowed gaining the data for multiple research questions. However, it was mostly meant to produce information about the teachers’ practices, beliefs, and attitudes with respect to culture integration in EFL in Libya (the second, fourth, fifth, seventh questions).

Additionally, an experiment was designed, in the course of which 56 secondary school students (two classes) from Tripoli (Libya) and one teacher were assigned to either the control (29 students) or pilot (27 students) group. In order to achieve this outcome, the structure of the classes was changed; the students were randomly assigned to a control and a pilot class. The latter group was provided with 12 culture-focused lessons which partly replaced their curriculum lessons during six weeks while both groups were monitored. Their pre- and post-experiment language proficiency were measured with the help of a Macmillan Publishers (2018) placement test. The students’ attitudes towards cultural instructions were also assessed through a specifically-developed survey before and after the project. Furthermore, their feedback was obtained with the help of unstructured interviews at the end of the experiment. This method was chosen to collect the students’ perspectives (third, fourth, fifth, and seventh questions) and to test the relationship between the integration of culture into EFL lessons and students’ outcomes (especially proficiency as seen in the sixth question). The experiment is a common method of determining relationships between variables, and the survey can produce data about peoples’ perceptions (Creswell, 2014), which explains the choice of the described elements of the methodology.

The data were analyzed accordingly. Surveys used descriptive statistics (percentages) to summarize the results while the language proficiency changes were checked with the help of a t-test for statistical significance, and the interviews involved the thematic analysis of the resulting data (Clarke & Braun, 2014; Ott & Longnecker, 2016; Privitera & Ahlgrim-Delzell, 2018). Additionally, two of the variables from the teachers’ questionnaire were also tested for a relationship between them with the help of ANOVA (Ott & Longnecker, 2016). Overall, the approaches to the analysis were based on the needs of the research: the descriptive statistics method was used for summarizing the data, and statistical tests determined relationships between variables. Furthermore, the type of data defined the approaches: quantitative data were analyzed statistically (Ott & Longnecker, 2016) whereas thematic analysis was used with the qualitative data (Clarke & Braun, 2014).

Organization of the Research

The following chapters of this thesis are structured as follows. The second chapter is dedicated to the context of the study, offering some crucial information about the educational system of Libya, its history, and related policies. Also, it provides some data about EFL in Libya. The third chapter presents a literature review, the first section of which is dedicated to the relationships between language and culture and their application to language learning and teaching. Additionally, different language teaching methods are briefly outlined, including a commentary on intercultural English language teaching. The second section of the chapter covers the topic of English as a Lingua Franca and its connection to EFL.

The fourth chapter is dedicated to the first part of the research. It covers the analysis of the content of Libyan textbooks and introduces the teachers’ questionnaire (which was developed with the books’ content analysis as a starting point), as well as its findings. This part of the work was mostly completed between February and April. The fifth chapter describes the experiment together with its methodology and results. By February 2018, I completed my experiment preparations and obtained permission to conduct research in a Libyan school. Also, I managed to recruit Libyan teachers from seven Libyan cities for the teachers’ survey. Between February 11 and April 19, the experiment took place. The sixth chapter presents the discussion of the data analysis, demonstrating the similarities and dissimilarities in the responses of teachers and students. The final chapter offers conclusions and recommendations.

Lesson Development

Theoretical Background

This section will present a summary of the literature that can be used to assist in the development of lessons that take into account the findings of the present study. As demonstrated through the review of the works by Byram (2008) and Kramsch (2014), there are significant interrelationships between language and culture that should shape the approach to teaching both. According to the two authors, cultural competence is vital for foreign language learning while foreign language learning enables the understanding of culture. This idea is supported by the findings of the study, including the reports of the teachers. Further, the communicative approach to language learning posits that one of the most important aspects of language mastery is the ability to communicate using it, and in order to be able to use appropriate vocabulary appropriately, a student needs to be familiar with the cultural aspects that pertain to communication (Barany, 2016). Thus, the connection between language and culture is well-established and needs to be considered when developing lessons.

In connection to the communicative approach with its focus on discussions and communication, the work of Lev Vygotsky is worth mentioning. This Russian psychologist focused on developmental processes in humans and established a developmental theory that was termed sociocultural (Shabani, 2016). From the perspective of this theory, the socio-cultural context of learning is very important for learners since the psychological and physiological factors that determine a person’s mental functions are affected by this context (Shabani, 2016; Swain, Kinnear, & Steinman, 2015). In other words, Vygotsky posits that culture is an essential factor in a human’s development. In addition to that, Vygotsky also commented on the relationship between language and culture, suggesting that language is affected by culture as one of the human mental functions (Swain et al., 2015). This theory is applicable and has been applied to language teaching (Shabani, 2016; Swain et al., 2015), and it contributes to the understanding of the relationship between culture and language.

However, the focus on sociocultural theory remains on the learner, which is why its primary concepts are the zone of proximal development (ZPD) and scaffolding. To put it simply, Vygotsky asserted that while humans have their independent performance potential, the assistance of a more knowledgeable person may help them to perform better. Through scaffolding (instructions, demonstration, and other forms of help), a teacher (or another person) can help a child to perform a task that they would not be able to perform otherwise (Swain et al., 2015). However, by doing so, the teacher allows the student to learn the new approaches to problem-solving, which they will be able to apply independently in the future. The general idea is that scaffolding a child in ZPD enables them to turn their currently scaffolded potential into their independent potential. In fact, it can be suggested that a person may learn to self-scaffold (Shabani, 2016). Thus, the sociocultural theory offers extensive advice on the significance of instruction and social interaction in learning.

The ideas of Vygotsky have also been applied to performance measurement. Given the very student-centered nature of the sociocultural theory, as well as its progressive approach to what assisted and unassisted performance can constitute, Vygotsky’s views support the idea of dynamic assessment. Dynamic assessment refers to the type of evaluation that incorporates instruction (scaffolding) and is more flexible than traditional assessments since it offers some room for students with different performance levels and ZDPs (Shabani, 2016). This individual-centered approach to teaching with attention paid to the cultural context of learning was employed during the study and can be useful for future lessons.

Lesson Development: Practice

Lesson topic and description

The lesson that is going to be described appears to demonstrate the application of the above-presented literature. It was one of the lessons that were carried out during the research, but it also seems to be generally in line with the findings of the study. As a result, this lesson can be employed as an example and a proposal for future lessons that may use similar methods and approaches. The lesson was dedicated to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as well as the concept of revenge. It incorporated a video task complemented by definition-matching, gap-filling, and multiple-choice tasks that were intended to check and improve the students’ understanding of the narration. Further, the lesson involved a writing task and some opportunities for discussion.

As you can see from this description, several of the above-described principles apply to this lesson. First, it recognizes the interaction of culture and language and works to instill interest in the culture of English-speaking countries in students. As students appreciate culture-related media as a potential source for learning the language, they may begin to employ this tool on their own, which is in line with the idea of scaffolding. Second, the lesson considers different approaches to assessment, incorporating non-dynamic and dynamic ones (they will be discussed below in detail). Third, it offers a variety of tasks, which, aside from providing the opportunity for practicing multiple skills, also diversifies the lesson, making it potentially more engaging. This context- and learner-centered approach can be helpful in future lessons and, based on the present research, can be advised for them.

Lesson objectives and intended learning outcomes

The lesson was devised to pursue the following objectives.

  1. The lesson was supposed to provide students with some information about the culture of English-speaking countries. This objective was present for all the lessons in this research. In this case, a particular work of literature was introduced to the learners along with the means of acquiring information about foreign cultures. The learners were invited to consider the role of the topic of the lesson in their own culture.
  2. The practicing of listening, writing, and speaking skills was another objective. Also, modal verbs were to be revisited.
  3. Critical thinking skills were also being developed during the lesson.

As a result, the following learning outcomes were identified.

  1. The students were to get acquainted with Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
  2. The students were to listen to and demonstrate an understanding of the video chosen for the lesson.
  3. The students were to demonstrate the ability to narrate the story of Hamlet by producing a written text of their own.
  4. The students were to demonstrate the ability to use modal verbs in the context of giving advice in a written text.
  5. The students were to demonstrate analytic and problem-solving skills.

Naturally, this part of the lesson can be adjusted for future sessions, but the tendency to set some goals related to cultural instruction and the improvement of various skills can help a lesson to promote the comprehensive development of a student’s proficiency and knowledge.

Instructional resources, environment arrangement, and additional details

All the resources for this lesson, as well as the rest of the lessons used during the study, were developed by the British Council (2013). They usually incorporate multiple activities and make use of varied media. This particular lesson included a video from the LearnEnglish Teens Website by the British Council (2013), which consists of narration of Hamlet’s plot. The text of the video is age- and level appropriate for the target audience. It incorporates the footage of the narrator and an animated version of the key events of the play. The video does not propose any direct approaches to interpreting the story, however, which means that it can be employed in a variety of tasks depending on a lesson’s objectives. The described session used it in accordance with the lesson plan offered by the British Council (2013).

The session required a blackboard, computer, and projector; this lesson used printed-out versions of the worksheets, but the British Council (2013) invites people to try employing the electronic versions whenever possible. In other words, the expenses for the lesson could be reduced. No environmental arrangements were required, although the students were allowed to choose their writing task partner and switch places as needed. Future lessons may employ various resources and the environment for the benefit of students.

Methods of performance measurement

The British Council (2013) provides the student worksheets which contain gap fill and multiple-choice tasks. They were employed during the lesson to measure the students’ understanding of the video. The writing tasks were simultaneously used for practice and to assess student’s progress in writing skills and grammar. The same task required the application of critical thinking and problem-solving skills and provided an option for evaluating them as well.

As a result, the performance measurement during this lesson included both non-dynamic and dynamic assessment (Shabani, 2016). The worksheets could be described as a non-dynamic approach to assessment: they were standardized and did not offer much opportunity for learning. However, the writing task presupposed the possibility of dynamically assessing the different-level skills of students with various ZPDs while offering them the opportunity to learn. It did not have any predetermined endpoints or standards; basically, it enabled a very dynamic and interactive form of assessment that involved multiple students and the teacher. The incorporation of both approaches to assessment allows combining their strong points: on the one hand, the standardized part was easy and fast to conduct, leaving more time for the writing task, and on the other hand, the dynamic part provided many opportunities for assessment and scaffolding. This approach can be proposed for future lessons.

Timetable

Table 1 presents the detailed plan of the lesson that was carried out; for prospective sessions, it can be adjusted, but its structure was effective in achieving the objectives set. Diverse tasks were employed throughout the lesson to enable multiple opportunities for learning and keep students engaged. In addition, most of the activities included scaffolding and interaction between students, as well as students and the teacher. Task-specific instructions and feedback are the primary examples of the opportunities for scaffolding. Furthermore, the discussions allowed considering the cultural aspects of the topic of the lesson (revenge), which invited students to examine the similarities and differences between their culture and the perspective presented in Hamlet. The introduction of multiple opportunities for discussion is in line with the communicative approach and should help students to develop their communicative skills.

Table 1. Detailed Plan of the Lesson as Proposed by the British Council (2013) and Adjusted for the Purposes of the Study.

Lesson Element (Time Required) Content Activities
Introduction (5 minutes). Introducing the topic (getting revenge).
  • Telling students an anecdote about revenge (cultural perspective).
  • Explaining the topic and objectives of the lesson (blackboard involved).
Preparing for the main task (5 minutes). Preparing for the listening task.
  • Explaining the upcoming listening task.
  • The preparation task: introducing the students to the words and phrases from the video (a definition-matching task with printouts).
Watching the video with commentary (15 minutes). Watching the video and commenting on it.
  • Watching video.
  • Discussing crucial plot points with the students.
Follow-up (20 minutes). Writing Hamlet’s letter to an agony aunt and the response.
  • Explaining the task (including the concept of agony aunt).
  • Revisiting the topic of modal verbs.
  • Writing letters in pairs.
  • Swapping and reading some letters.
  • Feedback on grammar and vocabulary mistakes.
  • Short discussion (cultural aspects of revenge).

Reflection

The lessons were carried out before the findings of the study were fully processed (although the data from the literature review was already available). However, it may be helpful to consider the ways in which this session reflects the ideas found in the responses of teachers and students. First, it is obvious that the lesson demonstrates an attempt at incorporating cultural aspects into EFL lessons. In this case, the students were exposed to an element of a foreign culture (the culture of an English-speaking country) and also invited to reflect on their own culture. Second, the lesson incorporated diverse media (in this case, a video from a British website) and introduced students to the way this type of media can be accessed and used for studies that may be more engaging than the typical approaches to the task. The results of this lesson cannot be used to make conclusions about the proficiency improvement or the general effectiveness of this approach, but based on the feedback of students and teachers who supported the introduction of cultural instruction, this approach is valid. Therefore, future lessons may benefit from employing similar structures and using cultural elements to enrich and improve learners’ experiences.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The present section summarizes the results of the whole study, which is devoted to the integration of cultural instruction into EFL lessons in Libya. The chapter consists of conclusions and recommendations; it will present the summary of the findings of the research, explain the related implications, and offer some key recommendations. Additionally, the section will discuss the study’s limitations and make suggestions for future research.

Summary of Findings

In order to summarize the findings, it is necessary to recall the research questions. The first one asked: do Libyan textbooks for EFL classes integrate culture? If so, what aspects of culture do they integrate? The content analysis of Libyan textbooks demonstrates that there are several categories of cultural content in them. The categories include those related to history, geography, various social and political institutions, socialization, traditions, religion, and literature. Thus, it can be concluded that Libyan textbooks do include some cultural content.

However, the teacher and student surveys indicate that both groups are often dissatisfied with the cultural content present in their textbooks. Also, more than 30% of the teachers report that their textbooks do not include any cultural content, which can be explained by the fact that some of them also find the presented cultural content inappropriate. At the same time, the teachers express a firm belief that some cultural content is needed; most of them support the inclusion of the content dedicated to both Libyan culture and that of English-speaking countries. Thus, the study indicates that there may be some problems with Libyan textbooks which can be rectified by the inclusion of more cultural content.

The second research question investigates the way Libyan EFL teachers incorporate culture into their lessons. The survey indicates that most of them do integrate culture in their lessons or discuss cultural topics with their students. Many participants report that they do not do so very often, but 14 of the 100 respondents state that they include some cultural content in every lesson. Most of the teachers use a wide variety of topics (from etiquette to literature) and materials (especially textbooks, the Internet, and other media). It is noteworthy that the ANOVA analysis indicates that there is a relationship between culture-related discussions and students’ interest in culture: as the students show more interest, their teachers become more likely to discuss cultural topics. However, most teachers also note that they never had any training on culture and its use in teaching (79%), stating that they would like to receive some instruction on the topic (78%). Also, many of the teachers are unsure of their ability to respond to culture-related questions (54%). Thus, the teachers generally acknowledge the need to integrate culture into EFL, but they lack the necessary skills and training, which makes many of them unsure of their abilities.

Regarding the third question, it reads as follows: what EFL sources affect students’ awareness of the culture of English-speaking countries? The students report receiving information about English-speaking countries from a wide variety of sources (including lessons, books, magazines, newspapers, radio, films, the Internet, and so on). It is noteworthy that upon the completion of the experiment, the experimental group started to recognize the value of different sources (from books and magazines to films) to a greater extent because the culture-focused lessons promoted their use. This outcome of the experimental lessons is very valuable.

Regarding the attitudes and beliefs of teachers and students (the fourth and fifth research question), the surveys show that many teachers and students generally approve of the introduction of cultural instruction into EFL lessons. Many of them also acknowledge the interrelationships between language and culture which affect communication as described by Byram (2008) and Kramsch and Hua (2016). However, this understanding has been shown to improve in the experimental group after the experiment. Therefore, the experimental lessons can enhance the students’ understanding of the significance of introducing culture into EFL. Overall, the majority of students and teachers view the integration of culture into EFL lessons as important, which offers a sufficient response to the fourth and fifth questions.

The sixth question was responded to by the experiment. The latter shows a statistically significant increase in the language proficiency of the students from the experimental group (27 female secondary school students from Tripoli) as compared to the control group (29 students with the same background) after six weeks (12 lessons) of culture instruction. Furthermore, the experimental group shows an increased motivation to learn and interest in EFL lessons. Thus, the integration of culture into EFL lessons can have positive outcomes.

Regarding the final question (number seven), both teachers and students offer their ideas about how to embed culture into EFL lessons. Mostly, they express their preferences in terms of topics, but this information may reflect the personal perspectives of the respondents. Still, the results indicate that both teachers and students favor a variety of topics and sources, especially those related to the media (including the Internet). Furthermore, both groups recommend including more cultural content in the textbooks. Also, the teachers highlight the importance of cultural training for the educators. These findings consist of direct suggestions on how EFL lessons in Libya can incorporate culture more effectively: the introduction of diverse topics and materials and teacher training seem to be the answer.

Implications and Recommendations

The primary implications of the study are connected to the importance of cultural instruction and the introduction of culture into EFL lessons in Libya. First, the research suggests that culture-focused lessons are capable of having a positive effect on students’ proficiency and their motivation to learn the language. The lessons were geared towards improving the understanding of the importance of culture, cultural awareness, and intercultural communicative skills, and they have succeeded in enhancing the students’ awareness in this regard. Overall, the respondents support the significance of the integration of culture into Libyan EFL lessons and make suggestions on the topics and methods that can be helpful, which is an important implication for practice.

In addition, a number of issues were uncovered which are specific for Libyan EFL. First, while Libyan textbooks do include cultural content, most of the respondents are not fully satisfied with it and would rather have more of it in their books. Furthermore, the teachers report issues related to the lack of training. The overwhelming majority of teachers have never received any cultural training, and more than 50% of them are not sure that they can teach culture. The findings can be important for individual educational institutions, but they are also significant for the Libyan system of education as a whole. Indeed, it needs to pay greater attention to the integration of culture into its ELF lessons, which, at this point, can be achieved by focusing on textbooks and teachers. Therefore, it can be recommended as a way to push for change in individual institutions and the educational system as a whole with a view to improving textbooks and opportunities for professional development.

Since the settings and sample of the project are specific, many of the recommendations are connected directly to the EFL course that the project was incorporated into, as well as the experimental lessons. First, the tested program can be viewed as successful; it is likely to be helpful for female Libyan students. Therefore, it can be integrated into the same EFL course not as a pilot component but as a permanent one.

The project also showed that students have preferences in terms of the choice of cultures to study and related methods in this respect. This project can only offer conclusions about the preferences of the project’s participants as no inferential statistics gave statistically significant results; therefore, the results are important for the teachers who are going to work with them in the future. Indeed, educators can use the information about the students’ preferences to customize their future lesson plans. However, for other groups, the presented questionnaire or a similar one can be used again to adjust the next course to the preferences of new students. In summary, the present research proves the effectiveness of the experimental lessons and offers a mechanism for their customization in the future. Both the lessons and questionnaires can be used to improve the EFL course in the secondary schools of Libya.

Limitations of this Study and Implications for Future Research

The primary limitation of the present research is its sample, which is not very large (100 teachers and 56 students) and, therefore, cannot be expected to represent all the teachers and students of Libya. Indeed, for the experiment, only female Tripoli students were recruited. Some categories of demographic information remain unavailable (religion, families’ education background and income, and so on). The reasons for this limitation are connected to the restrictions of the research (time- and resource-related, as well as those linked to obtaining permission to conduct research in schools). It can still be concluded that the study proves the fact that the integration of culture in EFL lessons can have positive effects, but most of the study’s results should be applied to the research’s settings and the populations studied within it.

In the future, similar research can be carried out in other settings and with different materials with regards to both Libyan EFL contexts and other countries. Furthermore, another study might be able to obtain permission from the Ministry of Education to replace curriculum lessons with experimental lessons instead of having to “squeeze” them into the normal schedule. Additionally, as it has been mentioned, most of the teachers’ and students’ ideas about their preferred topics and methods have not been tested for effectiveness, which opens the way to further research into this direction.

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