The Role Of Ethnopsychology In Regulating Culture-Based Language Acquisition Techniques


According to the federal state educational standard, the main purpose of foreign language teaching is to form a foreign language communicative competence. However, methods, techniques and models of communicative foreign language teaching are poorly developed due to cultural reasons. Peculiarities of the Western mentality do not correspond to the traditional Russian values. In modern language education, there is a need to apply culturally specific learning technologies that correspond to the mentality, thinking and value system of students. A theoretical analysis aims to determine ethnopsychological characteristics of Russian primary schoolchildren in order to develop effective methods to improve efficiency of foreign language teaching. The application of the principle of cultural conformity helps to achieve high results in teaching a foreign language, since it is addressed to a specific national audience with its own culturally specific characteristics. Russian students differ from the Western ones due to the specifics of national thinking, peculiarities of mentality and relationships between people. The historical and geographical features of the country, world perception and communicative behavior must be taken into account in the educational process. In teaching a foreign language, Western methods are often used, but do not correspond to the mentality and lifestyle of Russian schoolchildren, which leads to ineffective results in mastering a foreign language. Therefore, when choosing teaching aids, emphasis should be placed on national learning technologies, taking into account pros and cons of foreign language education.

Keywords: Ethnopsychological characteristics, national identity, cultural phenomena


The main task of foreign language teaching is to teach language as a means of communication, develop the communicative competence and a respectful attitude to the culture of other peoples. Today, teaching language and culture in their close connection is a generally recognized fact. This phenomenon has found its embodiment, both in normative educational attitudes and various scientific concepts that seek to designate special vectors of interaction between language and culture in the process of foreign language teaching (Tareva, 2017).

The application of the principle of cultural diversity (reliance on cultural and educational traditions and mentality) is important in foreign language teaching, since a "dialogue of cultures" takes place, where the common features between two cultures and national specifics are determined, “an idea of ​​cultural diversity as a norm for the existence and mutual development of cultures in modern multicultural communities is formed (Sysoev, 2009).

The concept of cultural conformity was introduced by A. Disterweg, who believed that in education and upbringing it is necessary to take into account cultural and social conditions of a child's life. The principle of cultural conformity has been recognized in by K.D. Ushinsky, S.T. Shatsky, V.A. Sukhomlinsky, N.I. Pirogov, S.I. Hesse. The main idea of this approach is the principle of teaching in accordance with the system of traditional values, mentality and moral norms of an ethnos.

The phenomena of ethnic education are of interest; methodological problems of ethnopsychology (V.G. Krysko, V.N. Pavlenko, Yu.P. Platonov, G.U. Soldatova, S.A. Tatlin), mechanisms of interethnic interaction (BC Ageev, T. G. Stefanenko), the structure of ethnic identity (A.O. Boronoev, E.M. Galkina, O.L. Romanova, V.F. Petrenko, L.B. Shneider) are being investigated.

Knowledge of any culture requires the study of material components of this culture, its historical, geographical and economic characteristics, ways of thinking, worldviews. It seems necessary to study the category of national mentality in terms of its content and teaching technology.

In cultural linguistics, the idea about the influence of national thinking on communicative behavior is generally accepted. Each representative of a nation is influenced by national mentality: they think, communicate, behave relying on their ethnic environment and national culture.

Insufficient theoretical and practical elaboration of the problem of culturally-specific characteristics of an ethnic group in the process of foreign language teaching, the need to create an effective nationally-oriented teaching technology requires new methods and approaches to the foreign language teaching process. This technology should take into account such factors as national character, mentality, national consciousness, and communicative behavior.

The educational system of any country has its own characteristics, which are a direct consequence of value orientations of society. This is the system of attitudes, expectations, preferences, perceptions and patterns of behavior that are typical of a particular society. Ignoring this fact entails a number of complex interrelated socio-cultural and linguistic problems.

Problem Statement

The issue of finding integrative learning technologies that would meet Russian socio-cultural realities becomes relevant.

In the context of reforming the education system, it is the mentality that can become a driving factor of innovation processes that form civic identity. When introducing new learning technologies, mental characteristics should be mandatory, since knowledge of national specifics helps to understand which mental structures should be relied on, and assess the likelihood of their successful use.

Ethnopsychological and national-cultural characteristics of primary school students are one of the important principles that contribute to the efficiency of foreign language teaching. The specificity of language education is associated with psychological characteristics of students and ethnopsychological characteristics of the people. According to Surygin (2000), “the process of foreign language teaching should be based on peculiarities of intercultural interaction and national-cultural characteristics of students, favorable psychological conditions for training” (p. 62).

Research Questions

Learning a foreign language in modern Russian schools begins from the second grade, since leaning a foreign language is an important and socially significant phenomenon. In primary schools, foreign language is taught in conditions of early communicative adaptation to a new language, in order to overcome the psychological barrier in the process of communication in a foreign language (Tayurskaya, 2015). Younger school age has a number of age and ethnopsychological characteristics that must be taken into account.

The educational system of the countries differs due to mental characteristics of nations. Schoolchildren of Russia, USA, China, France, etc. have different ethnopsychological features. When organizing the educational process, the knowledge of mental differences allows you to use a learning strategy efficiently. In addition to taking into account the ethnopsychology of children, it is necessary to know age and physiological characteristics of primary schoolchildren.

When teaching a foreign language to younger students, it is especially important to know the specifics of early education. In order to build the educational process in a natural way, it is necessary to study physiological and ethnopsychological characteristics of younger students. Teaching a foreign language will be successful if it corresponds to human nature, coincides with the natural way of cognition, corresponds to psychophysiological characteristics of the age group. Taking these features into account makes it possible to use favorable preconditions for primary school age and overcome difficulties arising in the educational process.

By the second grade, the child is physically and psychologically ready to learn a foreign language, the thinking process develops so that the foreign language is not difficult to learn. During the active mastering of the native language, foreign speech is perceived naturally, since the speech function of the brain is active. Children of primary school age have excellent memory abilities, can imitate what they hear (the reproduction ability). The younger the student, the better he reproduces the speech he has heard. This is due to children's direct perception of speech and spontaneous mastery of other forms of communication. At an early school age, the foundations of practical knowledge of a foreign language develop. The basis for the development of children’s ability to verbal interaction using a foreign language is communicative experience of their native language. Primary school children learn the phonetic aspect of speech more easily, which also contributes to effective vocabulary acquisition.

To solve problems arising in teaching a foreign language, it is necessary to know psychological and pedagogical characteristics of students and take into account national characteristics of Russian schoolchildren. According to Piaget (2006), a child goes through three stages of national identity development. At the age of 6–7 years, acquires first knowledge of his ethnicity. At the age of 8–9 years, he identifies himself with his ethnic group. At the age of 10–11, his national identity is completely developed. National characteristics, mentality, traditional values ​​manifest themselves in children of the elementary stage. Therefore, for the effective foreign language teaching, it is necessary to take into account national characteristics when choosing teaching aids.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this work is to identify the role of cultural and methodological techniques optimizing the foreign language teaching process, taking into account psychological and pedagogical characteristics of age groups of students.

Research Methods

An analysis of literature was used to determine ethnopsychological characteristics of Russian junior schoolchildren; features of national identity development; methods of teaching that are adequate to the psychological, age and cultural characteristics of children at the initial learning stage. To solve these problems, the following research methods were used: analysis of culturally specific characteristics of children of primary school age, comparison of Russian and Western educational systems, and generalization.


In order to understand how to modernize the system of foreign language education, it is necessary to know about our educational traditions. Russian society prefers everything foreign, including language. Interest in a foreign language was enormous. Knowledge of language has been a sign of social status and an indicator of a n educated person (Ter-Minasova, 2015). People learned a foreign language because they loved language and culture of the country. Currently, in the period of development of intercultural and interethnic ties, people are interested in learning a foreign language. Students of Russian schools can work and travel around the world, they consider a foreign language as a career means and a tool which broadens their horizons. The fact that a foreign language is learned since the second grade shows how seriously the educational system of our country takes this subject. For the Western society, the study of a foreign language is not a priority; for example, in the United States, foreign languages are learned since the middle grades. Foreign language learning is optional there.

In the early 1990s, teaching methods borrowed from the Western educational system began to be used in ussia. There was a desire to attract native speakers to teach foreign language. However, all these actions were based on Western mentality and ignored national characteristics of Russian people. One and the same methodology cannot be productive in different educational systems. Therefore, in order to teach our students, it is necessary to take into account culturally specific characteristics.

One of the problems of teaching a foreign language in Russia is a psychological barrier. The lack of a linguistic environment (a foreign language is rarely used outside the classroom), fear of failures, mistakes, complicate the development of a foreign language. Psychologically, Russian junior schoolchildren are more reserved. They have a non-communicative style of foreign language learning, easily perform staged exercises, but face great difficulties in the formation of speech skills due to the psychological barrier, their inherent lack of confidence in mastering lexical and grammatical skills.

Strict observance of formal norms and memorization of new materials is a characteristic feature of the language education in Russia. Teachers focus on the grammatical accuracy of speech rather than on its fluency, content and communication. At the initial stage of foreign language learning, the grammatical correctness is not so important, the main thing is to teach children to use means of communication. It is necessary to teach them to express their thoughts in English and become full participants in the communicative act, while selecting educational materials in accordance with their psychophysiological and age characteristics.

The priority of collective interests over personal ones is characteristic of Russian society. Russian junior schoolchildren are characterized by friendliness and mutual assistance, adhere to generally accepted norms of behavior in contrast to Western students. Given this ethnicity, group work can be a good teaching tool. Russian students feel more confident working with their friends. Each contribution to the group success helps build a sense of confidence and cope with shyness and fear of making mistakes. When a student is involved in individual work, in order to avoid problems, when one speaks, the rest are silent, it is necessary to organize the educational process in such a way that the rest are also involved in the work (they can write, listen, sketch).

Another feature of the Russian educational system is the hierarchical relationship between teachers and students. It is common to treat teachers with respect. This type of interaction excludes an equal relationship between teachers and students. In Western countries, students are equal participants in communication. Russian students rarely express points of view that are opposite to those of a teacher.

In Russian schools, tasks for memorization and story retelling are often used ignoring students’ motivation. Motivation is an essential component of verbal interaction, since if a student wants to speak, he is more interested in communicating in a foreign language (Tavoosy & Jelveh, 2019). A communicative need appears if the subject of speech interaction corresponds to the personality and age characteristics of the participant in the communication.

The use of non-standard teaching methods is encouraged in the Western educational system. In Russia, the educational process is characterized by traditionalism, striving for constancy, mistrust of new teaching methods. Education is a serious and responsible occupation that requires huge investment of time and efforts. Western teaching methods do not correspond to the academicism characteristic of the Russian school. Russian schoolchildren, accustomed to the traditional methods, perceive new teaching methods with distrust.

The lack of will and experience in overcoming difficulties, problems of concentration, absent-mindedness is characteristic features of junior students. Learning a foreign language is a complex process that requires good volitional qualities and the ability to manage educational activities. The volitional regulation of attention is limited. Their characteristic involuntary attention requires close motivation. For children, excellent marks and praises are a motive. In the Western educational system, it is customary to praise a child even for mistakes, since it is believed that mistakes are an engine of progress and nothing can be achieved without making them.

Features of the Russian educational traditions differ from the western ones due to the mental characteristics of the Russian people (Table 01).

Table 1 - Features of the educational systems of Russian and Western society.
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Reliance on cultural and educational traditions and mentality is important in foreign language education, since there is a "dialogue of cultures" where common and specific features of two cultures are determined, “langgae is learned through the prism of culture” (Corbett, 2003)

Each country has its own cultural specifics reflected in the educational system. There is no unique education system suitable for all countries. Learning technologies that do not correspond to people’s mentality hinder the effective development of education. Therefore, when choosing means of teaching primary school children, it is necessary to take into account national characteristics of people.

Due to the fact that in many cultures there are different approaches to the system of relations "Teacher-Student", "Student-student", the issue of cultural conformity in teaching, as well as the variability of teaching aids is relevant.

It is difficult to master new knowledge, develop relationships with a teacher and peers, acquire knowledge about another country. It is necessary to take into account peculiarities of cognitive activities of younger students, the psychological and cultural-specific characteristics in order to improve productivity of learning and mental development of student's personality.


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Starinina, O. V., Lomteva, T. N., Kamensky, M. V., & Reshetova, I. S. (2021). The Role Of Ethnopsychology In Regulating Culture-Based Language Acquisition Techniques. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1531-1537). European Publisher.