|WHAT EVERY TEACHER NEEDS TO KNOW|
Based on "Teaching Language in Context" by Alice
Omaggio Hadley- 1993
& "Teaching Culture: Strategies for Intercultural Communication" by H. Ned Seelye- 1993
Group for Discussions on Facebook: Nada's ESL Island.(Join us there! Post your questions)
"Communication is Culture, and Culture is Communication."
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Culture and communication are inseparable because culture not only dictates who talks to whom, about what, and how the communication proceeds, it also helps to determine how people encode messages, the meanings they have for messages, and the conditions and circumstances under which various messages may or may not be sent, noticed, or interpreted... Culture...is the foundation of communication. (Samovar, Porter, & Jain, 1981)
1- Definition: What is Culture?
Why are language and culture inseparably connected?
2- Common Approaches to Teaching Culture
3- A Framework for Building Cultural Understanding
A Framework for Learning/Teaching Culture
4- Planning Teaching for Cultural Understanding: Goals
5- Themes to use for Teaching Culture
6- Strategies & Techniques for Teaching CultureStrategies:
- The lecture
- Native informants
- Audio-taped interviews
- Video-taped interviews/Observational dialogs
- Using authentic readings and realia for cross-cultural understanding (a four-stage approach to a cultural reading of authentic materials is very effective to lead students through the process of guided exploration and discovery : 1-Thinking, 2-Looking, 3-Learning, 4-Integrating1. Information Sources
Cultural Islands Culture Capsules Culture Clusters Culture Assimilators Critical Incidents/Problem Solving Culture Mini-Dramas Audio–Motor Units Cultoons Media/Visuals Celebrating Festivals Kinesics and Body Language Cultural Consciousness-Raising Independent Activity Sheets Cultural Artifacts/Artifact Study Cultural Scavenger Hunt Getting to Know your Classmates Deriving Cultural Connotations Hypothesis Refinement Decreasing Stereotypic Perceptions (help students understand the dangers of unwarranted generalizations) Using Proverbs in Teaching Cultural Understanding Humor as a Component of Culture: Exploring Cross-Cultural Differences Stimulating Discussion: Email & Listservs
2. Additional Activities3. Selling PointsA- Quizzes
B- Action Logs
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7- Lesson Plans for Teaching Culture +A Standards-Based Thematic Unit Using the Learning Scenario as An Organizing Framework8- A Conceptual Model of Culture Learning
An ACTFL Issues Paper by Alfred N. Smith, Utah State University
9- Measuring Cross-Cultural Awareness & Changes in Attitudes
10- Dealing with Students’ Negative Attitudes
11- Practical Tips...
12- List of Useful Books...
13- References & Bibliography
14- Relevant Internet Sites...
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"Culture is the "glue" that binds a group of people together."
"Culture is an elusive construct that shifts constantly over time and according to who is perceiving and interpreting it."
(Linda Harklau- 1999)
"Culture" is a broad concept that embraces all aspects of human life. It includes everything people learn to do. It is everything humans have learned. Culture shapes our thoughts and actions, and often does so with a heavy hand" (Seelye- 1984-1993). Of its several meanings, two are of major importance to teachers (according to Brooks, 1975*):
We should realize that knowing the language, as well as the patterns of everyday life, is a prerequisite to appreciating the fine arts and literature, therefore we need a balanced perspective of culture when designing curricula.
- Hearthstone or "little-c" culture: Culture as everything in human life (also called culture BBV: Beliefs, Behavior, and Values)
- Olympian or "big-C" culture: the best in human life restricted to the elitists (also called culture MLA: great Music, Literature, and Art of the country).
The "big-C" Culture is already taught in the classroom; it is the "little-c" one that needs to be emphasized, especially in the FL classroom.
According to the US senator, Paul Simon, "Knowledge of the world's languages and cultures is more vital than ever. In order to compete in the global community, we must be able to communicate effectively and to appreciate, understand, and be able to work in the framework of other cultures." In the past, culture used to be distinct from language; nowadays, it has become integral to it. If it is important to teach a foreign language to enhance communication, it is also vital to instill in students an intellectual and emotional appreciation of the culture of that foreign language, so that communication will not be impaired.
Dewey (1897) said that "It is true that language is a logical instrument, but it is fundamentally and primarily a social instrument." If language is "primarily a social instrument," how can it be divorced from the society that uses it? (Seelye p. 4)
Jay (1968) argued that "Bilingualism is not in itself the answer to cultural understanding among people... With knowledge of the language must exist a similar knowledge of the social, religious, and economic attitudes of a people." (Seelye p. 6)
Learning a language in isolation of its cultural roots prevents one from becoming socialized into its contextual use. Knowledge of linguistic structure alone does not carry with it any special insight into the political, social, religious, or economic system. Or even insight into when you should talk and when you should not. (Seelye 1993, p 10).
"The study of language cannot be divorced from the study of culture, and vice-versa (Seelye p. 22).
"A language is part of a culture and culture is part of language; the two are intricately interwoven so that one cannot separate the two without losing the significance of either language or culture."
Why language and culture are inseparably connected (Buttjes 1990, p. 55):
(Buttjes, D. (1990). Teaching foreign language and culture: Social impact and political significance. Language Learning Journal, 2, 53-57.)
1- Language acquisition does not follow a universal sequence, but differs across cultures;
2- The process of becoming a competent member of society is realized through exchanges of language in particular social situations;
3- Every society orchestrates the ways in which children participate in particular situations, and this, in turn, affects the form, the function and the content of children's utterances;
4- Caregivers' primary concern is not with grammatical input, but with the transmission of sociocultural knowledge;
5- The native learner, in addition to language, acquires also the paralinguistic patterns and the kinesics of his or her culture. (Buttjes, 1990, p. 55)
Commonly used Facts Approaches for teaching culture:
A) The Frankenstein Approach: A taco from here, a flamenco dancer from
here, a Gacho from here, a bullfight from there
B) The 4-F approach: Folk dances, festivals, fairs and food
C) Tour Guide Approach: Monuments, rivers, cities, etc.
D) “By-The-Way” Approach: Sporadic lectures or bits of behavior selected
indiscriminately to emphasize sharp differences
A Framework for Building Cultural UnderstandingFour dimensions:- based on process skills
- includes both factual & socio-linguistic content.
1- Convention: Students need to recognize and understand how people in a given culture typically behave in common, everyday situations.
2- Connotation: Students need to know the significant meanings that are associated with words.
3- Conditioning: Students need to know that people act in a manner consistent with their cultural frame of reference, and that all people respond in culturally conditioned ways to basic human needs.
4- Comprehension: Students need the skills of analysis, hypothesis formation, and tolerance of ambiguity.
A Framework for Learning/Teaching Culture
A) Knowing about (getting information)1) Nature of content -- getting informationB) Knowing how (developing behaviors)
- what is the capital of the US?
- sports play an important role in American life.
2) Learning objectives -- demonstrate a mastery of the information.
3) Techniques/activities -- cultural readings; films/videotapes; recordings; realia (cultural artifacts); personal anecdotes.
- how culture is traditionally taught -- giving students information and asking them to show that they know it;
- teacher role: informant.1) Nature of content -- skillsC). Knowing why (discovering explanations)
- buying tickets to a sports event,
- cheering for your team at a football game,
- acting and speaking like American sports fans.
2) Learning objectives: demonstrate an ability -- a fluency, an expertise, confidence, ease.
3) Techniques/activities: dialogs, role plays, simulations, field experiences.
- where communicative competence in the language and culture occurs. Students know both what to say and how to do it in a
culturally appropriate manner.
- teacher role: coach or model.1) Nature of content -- values and assumptionsD) Knowing oneself (personalizing knowledge)
- why are sports so important to Americans?
- are you making an observation or an interpretation?
- why do Americans have such sports rituals?
- how does this compare with your culture?
2) Learning objectives
- demonstrate an ability: to infer; to generalize; to suspend judgment,
- curiosity; tolerance; sensitivity; empathy.
- learners interpret and make explanations based on above activities,
- comparisons with their own culture,
- reflective writing.
- learners engage in actively using their powers of induction, analysis and intuition to draw conclusions about cultural information or experiences -- like anthropologists.
- teacher role: co-researcher or guide.1) Nature of content -- self-awareness"TEACHING CULTURE: PERSPECTIVES IN PRACTICE" (2001)
- what importance do sports have in YOUR life?
- how did it feel to act like Americans do at a football game?
- would you choose to act like this?
2) Learning objectives: by behavior/statements demonstrate understanding of ones' feelings, values, opinions, attitudes, and
act upon them.
- learners examine and make statements about themselves,
- reflective writing,
- feedback on above activities.
- learners themselves are the subject matter in a process of guided self-discovery, as they study their own values and their
reactions to those of the culture. They decide whether or not to change.
- teacher role: counselor or guide.
By Patrick Moran
Department of Language Teacher Education- School for International Training
Brattleboro, VT, USA
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We have already concluded that teaching culture needs to be integrated in the curriculum of the foreign language. Teachers do indeed need to teach students a few critical skills that can help them develop and improve the quality of their intercultural communication, that can help them "get their feet wet in the waters of another culture." (Seelye 1993, preface) However, it is not easy to determine what to teach. The "big-C" or the "little-c" culture? And within each type of culture, what should teachers focus on? Teachers already have an overcrowded curriculum and they are not adequately trained to teach culture. How do they decide on the skills to teach? Just as every other discipline has focus and goals, the solution to teachers' problems would be to define the skills that students need to acquire when it comes to learning a FL, the skills that students need in order to increase their ability to communicate across cultures. Here are some goals, devised by Seelye in 1974 and refined in 1993, that will help teachers select cultural data that will increase student skill in intercultural communication.
To teach culture for understanding, teachers should achieve the following Goals: (Seelye, 1984 & 1993)
(The following 6 goals are a modification of the Nostrands' "kinds of understanding to be tested")
Goal 1 = Interest- The student demonstrates curiosity about the target culture and empathy toward its people.
Goal 2 = Who- The student recognizes that role expectations and other social variables such as age, sex, social class, ethnicity, and place of residence affect the way people speak and behave.
Goal 3 = What- The student realizes that effective communication requires discovering the culturally conditioned images that are evoked in the minds of people when they think, act, and react to the world around them.
Goal 4 = Where and When- The student recognizes that situational variables and convention shape behavior in important ways. (S/he needs to know how people in the target culture act in common mundane and crisis situations)
Goal 5 = Why- The student understands that people generally act the way they do because they are using options society allows for satisfying basic physical and psychological needs, and that cultural patterns are interrelated and tend mutually to support need satisfaction.
Goal 6 = Exploration- The student can evaluate a generalization about the target culture in terms of the amount of evidence substantiating it, and has the skills needed to locate and organize information about the target culture from the library, the mass media, people, and personal observation.
The Nostrands* listed nine objectives: students should have the ability to
1) React appropriately in a social situation
2) Describe a pattern in the culture
3) Recognize a pattern when it is illustrated
4) “Explain” a pattern
5) Predict how a pattern is likely to apply in a given situation
6) Describe or manifest an attitude important for making oneself
acceptable in the foreign society
7) Evaluate the form of a statement concerning a culture pattern
8) Describe/demonstrate defensible methods of analyzing a
9) Identify basic human purposes that make significant the
understanding that is being taught
Various versions of these steps have been made, with more or less the same goals and expectations for students.
(*Nostrand, F.B. & Nostrand, H.L.. 1970. Testing Understanding of the Foreign Culture//Seelye, H.N. ed. Perspectives for Teachers of Latin American Culture. Springfield, IL: Office of Public Instruction, 123-127.)
Problems involved in teaching culture:
The First problem teachers are facing is: Overcrowded Curriculum.
The study of culture involves time that many teachers feel they cannot spare in an already overcrowded curriculum; they content themselves with the thought that students will be exposed to cultural material later, after they have mastered the basic grammar and vocabulary of the language.
Solution: Teachers should be made aware of the fact that this "later" never seems to come for most students. Therefore, instead of teaching language and culture in a Serial fashion, they should teach them in an integrative fashion.
The Second problem teachers are facing is: Fear of Not Knowing Enough.
Teachers are afraid to teach culture because they fear that they don’t know enough about it, thinking that their role is only to impart facts.
Solution: Even if teachers’ own knowledge is quite limited, their proper role is not to impart facts, but to help students attain the skills that are necessary to make sense out of the facts they themselves discover in their study of the target culture. Then, the objectives that are to be achieved in cross-cultural understanding involve Processes rather than Facts. A "facts only" approach to culture for which the only goal is to amass bits of information is ineffective.
The Third problem teachers are facing is: Dealing with Students’ Negative Attitudes.
When cultural phenomena differ from what they expect, students often react negatively, characterizing the target culture as "strange".
Solution: Just as teachers need to help students revise their "linguistic patterns," they also need to help them revise their "cultural patterns."
The Fourth problem teachers are facing is: Lack of Adequate Training.
Teachers may not have been adequately trained in the teaching of culture and, therefore, do not have strategies and clear goals that help them to create a viable framework for organizing instruction around cultural themes.
Solution: Check the aforementioned goals and the "belowmentioned" themes and strategies.
The Fifth problem teachers are facing is: How to Measure Cross-Cultural Awareness and Change in Attitudes.
It is very difficult for teachers to measure cross-cultural awareness and change in attitudes so that they can see whether the students have profited or not.
Measuring Cross-Cultural Awareness :
Hanvey’s (1979) scheme for measuring cross-cultural awareness consists of four stages :
Measuring Change in Attitudes :
- Level I : Information about the culture may consist of superficial stereotypes.
Learners see the culture as bizarre. Culture bearers may be considered rude and ignorant.
- Level II : Learners focus on expanded knowledge about the culture (contrast with their own culture). They find the culture bearers’ behavior irrational.
- Level III : Learners begin to accept the culture at an intellectual level and can see things in terms of the target culture’s frame of reference.
- Level IV : The level of empathy is achieved through living in and through the culture. Learners begin to see the culture as insiders.
There are four techniques to measure attitudes :
- Social distance scales : To measure the degree to which one separates oneself socially from members of another culture (e.g. would marry .. , have as close friend, have as next-door neighbor, work with, have as an acquaintance only…)
- Semantic differential scales : To judge the defined culture group in terms of a number of bipolar traits (e.g. Good/Bad, Clean/Dirty….)
- Statements : To put a check in front of the statements with which s/he agrees. (e.g. Envious of others, Tactless, Self-indulgent, Quick to understand…)
- Self-esteem change : To measure changes in self-esteem in the primary grades (e.g. happy with myself, at home, at school, my teacher/friends like me….)
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The main Themes of the culture might be: symbolism, value, authority, order, ceremony, love, honor, humor, beauty, and spirit, in addition to intellectuality, individualism, the art of living, realism, common sense, friendship, family, justice, liberty, patriotism, religion, education, conflict, ecology … "Theme" in teaching culture is not just any "topic"; rather it is an "emotionally charged concern, which motivates or strongly influences the culture bearer’s conduct in a wide variety of situations."
Brooks identified ten points around which culture could be based:
1) Symbolism 2) Value 3) Authority 4) Order 5) Ceremony 6) Love 7) Honor
8) Humor 9) Beauty 10) Spirit
He suggested teaching different points at different times.
"There is... a tendency for us to believe
that our own reality is the “correct” perception......What appears to you to be an accurate and objective perception of a person, a custom, an idea, is sometimes “jaded” or “stilted” in the view of someone from another culture." (Douglas-Brown- 1994)
In order to translate the goals for teaching culture into classroom practice, we need to follow specific Strategies and Techniques:
- The lecture
- Native informants
- Audio-taped interviews
- Video-taped interviews/Observational dialogs
- Using authentic readings and realia for cross-cultural understanding (a four-stage approach to a cultural reading of authentic materials is very effective to lead students through the process of guided exploration and discovery : 1- Thinking, 2- Looking, 3- Learning, 4- Integrating)
Cultural Islands Culture Capsules Culture Clusters Culture Assimilators Critical Incidents/Problem Solving Culture Mini-Dramas Audio–Motor Units Cultoons Media/Visuals Celebrating Festivals Kinesics and Body Language Cultural Consciousness-Raising Independent Activity Sheets Cultural Artifacts/Artifact Study Cultural Scavenger Hunt Getting to Know your Classmates Deriving Cultural Connotations Hypothesis Refinement Decreasing Stereotypic Perceptions Using Proverbs in Teaching Cultural Understanding Humor as a Component of Culture: Exploring Cross-Cultural Differences Stimulating Discussion: Email & Listservs
1. Information Sources
2. Additional Activities 3. Selling Points
* Cultural Islands
From the first day of class teachers should have prepared a cultural island in their classrooms. Posters, pictures, maps, signs, and realia of many kinds are essential in helping students develop a mental image. Assigning students foreign names from the first day can heighten student interest. Short presentations on a topic of interest with appropriate pictures or slides add to this mental image. Start students off by making them aware of the influence of various foreign cultures in this country. Introduce students to the borrowed words in their native language or the place-names of our country. This helps students to realize they already know many words in the target language (i.e. poncho, fiesta, rodeo). Some of the foods they eat are another example of the influence of foreign cultures (i.e. taco, burrito, chili).
A good introductory activity is to send students on cultural scavenger hunts to supermarkets and department stores and have them make lists of imported goods.
Culture capsules are generally prepared out of class by a student but presented during class time in 5 or 10 minutes. The concept was developed by Taylor & Sorenson (1961). A Culture capsule consists of a paragraph or so of explanation of one minimal difference between a Lebanese and an American's custom along with several illustrative photos and relevant realia. Miller (1974) has developed well-defined culture capsules into classroom activities.
In Ursula Hendron’s article on teaching culture in the high school classroom, she suggests using culture capsules. The culture capsule teachers through comparison by illustrating one essential difference between an American and a foreign custom (i.e. dating, cuisine, pets, sports). The cultural insights from the culture capsule can be further illustrated by role playing. For example, Hendron suggests teaching dating customs in Spanish-speaking countries by creating an illusion of a plaza mayor in the classroom with posters, props, music or slides. Students pretend to be young Latin-Americans and act out a Sunday paseo.
Brigham Young University also publishes culture capsules entitled “Culturgrams” for 100 different countries. Each “culturgram” is divided into sections on family lifestyle, attitudes, customs and courtesies, and history. After studying these, students can compare and contrast the foreign customs and traditions with their own. "Infograms" which cut across cultures with topics such as travel stress, keeping the law, and families, have been published.
Culture capsules are one of the best–established and best–known methods for teaching culture. They have been tried mostly in classes for foreign languages other than English. Essentially a culture capsule is a brief description of some aspect of the target language culture (e.g., what is customarily eaten for meals and when those meals are eaten, marriage customs, etc.) followed by, or incorporated with contrasting information from the students' native language culture. The contrasting information can be provided by the teacher, but it is usually more effective to have the students themselves point out the contrasts.
Culture capsules are usually done orally with the teacher giving a brief lecture on the chosen cultural point and then leading a discussion about the differences between cultures. For example, the information which a teacher might use about the grading system at U. S. universities is included in the link. The teacher could provide all of the information at once or could pause after the information in each paragraph and ask students about the contrasts they see. Some visual information, such as in handouts or overhead transparencies or pictures, supporting the lecture can also be used.
* Culture Clusters (developed by Meade & Morain, 1973)
A culture cluster is simply a group of three or more illustrated culture capsules on related themes/topics (about the target life) + one 30 minute classroom simulation/skit that integrates the information contained in the capsules (the teacher acts as narrator to guide the students). For example, a culture cluster about grades and their significance to university students could contain the capsule about how a grade point average is figured plus another about what kind of decisions (such as being accepted in graduate study, receiving scholarships, getting a better job, etc.) are affected by a person's grade point average.
Culture capsules and clusters are good methods for giving students knowledge and some intellectual knowledge about the cultural aspects being explained, but they generally do not cause much emotional empathy.
* Culture Assimilators (Developed by Fiedler et al., 1971)
The culture assimilator provides the student with 75 to 100 episodes of target cultural behavior. Culture assimilators consist of short (usually written) descriptions of an incident or situation where interaction takes place between at least one person from the target culture and persons from other cultures (usually the native culture of the students being taught). The description is followed by four possible choices about the meaning of the behavior, action, or words of the participants in the interaction with emphasis on the behavior, actions, or words of the target language individual(s).
Students read the description in the assimilator and then choose which of the four options they feel is the correct interpretation of the interaction. Once all students have made their individual choices, the teacher leads a discussion about why particular options are correct or incorrect in interpretation. Written copies of the discussion issues can be handed out to students although they do not have to be. It is imperative that the teacher plan what issues the discussion of each option should cover.
Culture assimilators are good methods of giving students understanding about cultural information and they may even promote emotional empathy or affect if students have strong feelings about one or more of the options.
Critical incidents are another method for teaching culture. Some people confuse them with culture assimilators, but there are a couple of differences between the two methods. Critical incidents are descriptions of incidents or situations which demand that a participant in the interaction make some kind of decision. Most of the situations could happen to any individual; they do not require that there be intercultural interaction as there is with culture assimilators.
Individual critical incidents do not require as much time as individual culture capsules or individual culture assimilators, so generally when this method is used, more than one critical incident is presented. It is probably most effective to have all the critical incidents presented at one time be about the same cultural issue. For example, the critical incidents listed in the appendix to this chapter all deal with the issue of time, promptness, and scheduling.
Generally, the procedure with a critical incident is to have students read the incident independently and make individual decisions about what they would do. Then the students are grouped into small groups to discuss their decisions and why they made them they way they did. Then all the groups discuss their decisions and the reasons behind them. Finally, students have to be given the opportunity to see how their decision and reasoning compare and contrast with the decisions and reasoning of native members of the target culture. If the ESL class is occurring in an English–speaking environment, students can be assigned to go out and survey native English speakers about how and why they would solve the problem or make the decision required by the critical incident. Reports on the reasoning and the differences can be made in a following class session. If the class takes place in an EFL environment, the native speaker information would have to be gathered by the teacher from reading or from contact with expatriates. Sometimes advice columns like the "Dear Abby" or "Ann Landers" columns, can provide teachers both with critical incidents or problems to be solved and with information about what native speakers would do and why.
Critical incidents are very good for arousing affect (emotional feelings) about the cultural issue. Discussion or surveys about what native English speakers would do also promote intellectual understanding of the issues and give learners basic knowledge about the target culture.
* Mini–Dramas (Gorden's prototype minidrama, 1970)
Mini–dramas consist of three to five brief episodes in which misunderstandings are portrayed, in which there are examples of miscommunication. Additional information is made available with each episode, but the precise cause of the misunderstanding does not become apparent until the last scene. Each episode is followed by an open-ended question discussion led by the teacher. The episodes are generally written to foster sympathy for the non–native of the culture the "wrong" that is done to him or her by a member of the target culture. At the end of the mini–drama, some "knowing" figure explains what is really happening and why the target culture member was really not doing wrong.
With mini–dramas, scripts are handed out and people are assigned to act out the parts. After each act, the teacher asks students (not necessarily the ones performing in the drama) what the actions and words of the characters in the drama mean and leads them to make judgments about the characters in the play. After all of the scenes have been portrayed and the "knowing" figure has made his or her speech, students are asked to reinterpret what they have seen in view of the information which the knowing figure provided.
The first time mini–drama is used in an ESL classroom, it should promote quite a lot of emotional feeling of the kind that really happens in intercultural misunderstandings. Mini–dramas always promote knowledge and understanding, but the great emotional impact usually only happens the first time. Mini–dramas work best if they deal, therefore, with highly charged emotional issues.
Brislin et al. (1986) prepared 100 critical intercultural incidents in English.
Intercultural Interactions : A Practical Guide (Cross Cultural Research and Methodology) (Hardcover)
by Richard W. Brislin, Kenneth Cushner, Craig Cherrie - 1986
Audio–motor units consist of verbal instructions for actions by students which the students then carry out. They work very well for any cultural routine which requires physical actions (e. g., eating with a knife and fork, shaking hands, listening actively, standing in line to buy a ticket, etc.).
With an audio–motor unit, the classroom is set up as the required setting and with the required props. Individual students are then directed orally by the teacher to carry out appropriate actions. The process can be repeated several times with different students carrying out the instructions. Once appropriate behavior is established, minor but relevant changes can be made and students can see what factors require adjustment (e.g., Is it proper to shake hands with adults and children in the same way? If two come in together and have to pass in front of people, does it alter what anyone says or does?, etc.)
Audio–motor units give knowledge and practice with correct behavior. They do not necessarily promote understanding nor empathy.
Cultoons are like visual culture assimilators. Students are given a series of (usually) four pictures depicting points of surprise or possible misunderstanding for persons coming into the target culture. The situations are also described verbally by the teacher or by the students who read the accompanying written descriptions. Students may be asked if they think the reactions of the characters in the cultoons seem appropriate or not.
After the misunderstandings or surprises are clearly in mind, the students read explanations of what was happening and why there was misunderstanding.
Cultoons generally promote understanding of cultural facts and some understanding, but they do not usually give real understanding of emotions involved in cultural misunderstandings.
Magazine pictures, slide presentations, and/or videos are among the kinds of media/visual presentations which can be used to teach culture. Usually with this method, the teacher presents a series of pictures or slides or a video with explanation of what is going on and what it means in terms of the target culture. Many aspects of culture, such as appropriate dress for activities, kinds of activities students participate in or the weekend, public transportation, etc., can be effectively presented with such visuals. The appendix for this chapter contains the script which might be used for a slide presentation about the importance of the automobile and the independence it allows in the U. S.
Media/visuals are usually very good at giving information and intellectual understanding, but, like several other methods of teaching culture, they do not cause students to understand the emotion which is involved with so many cultural issues.
Celebrating foreign festivals is a favorite activity of many students. Even though this activity takes a lot of planning, it works well as a culminating activity. My Spanish-speaking students start by bringing in recipes from home and then we put our own cookbook together (See bibliography for Cooper’s book). We then prepare for the festival by drawing posters, decorating the room, and preparing some of the foods in our cookbook. At Christmas time, we fill a pinata with candy and learn some folk songs and folk dances (Most textbooks have songs at the back of the book). This kind of activity enables student to actively participate in the cultural heritage of the people they are studying.
Culture is a network of verbal and non-verbal communication. If our goal as foreign language teachers is to teach communication, we must not neglect the most obvious form of non-verbal communication which is gesture. Gesture, although learned, is largely an unconscious cultural phenomenon. Gesture conveys the “feel” of the language to the student and when accompanied by verbal communication, injects greater authenticity into the classroom and makes language study more interesting. Gerald Green in his book "Gesture Inventory for Teaching Spanish" suggests that teachers use foreign culture gestures when presenting dialogues, cueing students’ responses, and assisting students to recall dialogue lines (Examples of dialogues and appropriate gestures are given in the book). At the beginning of the year, teachers can also show foreign films to students just to have them focus on body movements.
Attitude is another factor in language learning that leads to cross cultural understanding. Helen Wilkes believes that the totality of language learning is comprised of three integrated components: linguistic, cultural, and attitudinal. As foreign language teachers, we all teach the basic sounds, vocabulary, and syntax of the target language. Above we have seen methods of introducing culture into the classroom. The remainder of this paper will focus on effecting attitudinal changes.
Most foreign language teachers would agree that positively sensitizing students to cultural phenomena is urgent and crucial. Studies indicate that attitudinal factors are clear predictors of success in second language learning. However, effecting attitudinal changes requires planned programs which integrate cultural and linguistic units as a means to cross-cultural understanding. The following method for effecting attitudinal changes is adapted from Helen Wilkes’ article “A Simple Device for Cultural Consciousness Raising in the Teenaged Student of French.” The organization of the notebook can be a useful tool in any discipline, but it can be of special importance in the foreign language classroom as a cultural consciousness raising tool. Helen Wilkes suggests that from the very first day of school the foreign language teacher should have students begin organizing their notebook. The notebook should be divided into four sections: Vocabulary, Maps, Grammar, Symbols. Each section of the notebook will have an illustrated title page.
Write the names of each of your classmates below. Ask each of them what cultural groups their parents and grandparents are from and list them next to their name. At the bottom of the page total the number of cultural groups in the whole class. Decorate the classroom with flags or symbols for each cultural group.
NAME CULTURAL GROUP
Walk around your neighborhood and make a list of streets and stores that are named after people. Next to each name write the cultural group that the name comes from. Ask your teacher or parents for help. This will give you a record of the groups that have been or still are in your neighborhood.
STREET NAMES: CULTURAL GROUPS:
STORE NAMES: CULTURAL GROUPS:
An artifact is an object or a thing. Some artifacts are of special importance or meaning to a cultural group. Ask your parents or grandparents if they have an artifact from their cultural group that you could bring to school to tell the class about.
WHERE IS THE ARTIFACT FROM?
IMPORTANT OR INTERESTING INFORMATION ABOUT THE ARTIFACT:
Many of the things we buy are made in other countries. Read the labels on your clothes, shoes, household appliances, and other objects in the house. List where they come from.
Many times we think we know students in class because we see them every school day. But there are many things about our classmates that we probably don’t know. Make a list of questions to ask students you don’t know very well. Interview them using your questions.
As a conclusion to this activity each of you might introduce the person you interview to the class.
SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:
What do you like to do in your spare time?
If you could make three wishes what would they be?
(Teaching Culture: Beyond Language by Deborah Peck
Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
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In order to get a comprehensive picture of the target culture from many angles, we need to present our students with different kinds of information. The list below shows some possible sources of information which can be used as materials for teaching culture. By using a combination of visual, audio and tactile materials, we are also likely to succeed in addressing the different learning styles of our students.
Videos, CDs, TV, Readings, Internet, Stories, Students own information, Songs, Newspapers, Realia, Fieldwork, Interviews, Guest speakers, Anecdotes, Souvenirs, Photographs Surveys, Illustrations, Literature
Many books which attempt to teach culture offer only 'discussion' activities. Discussion is a valuable form of learning in culture, but we cannot expect all students to be able to discuss complex issues at a high level in a foreign language. Often, even high-level students need some preparatory activities with clear goals before they can proceed to discussion. Some of our favorite activities are discussed below.
We have found that quizzes are one of the more successful activity types. Quizzes can be used to test materials that you have previously taught, but they are also useful in learning new information. For example, look at the simple true/false quiz about Ireland below.
With a partner, answer true or false to the following questions.
Ireland is totally dark during the winter.
There is little snow except in the mountains.
The population of Ireland is less than that of Aichi Prefecture.
Ireland is about the same size as the island of Honshu.
The United Kingdom includes the Republic of Ireland.
The Coors, the Cranberries, U2, the Beatles and Enya are Irish musicians.
Some Irish people think the Shinkansen connects Tokyo to Hong Kong.
You should ask the students to answer true or false to each of the questions in pairs or groups. They will share their existing knowledge and common sense to give answers. It is not important whether students get the right answer or not, but by predicting, students will become more interested in finding out the right answer. The right answers can be given by the teacher, through a reading, listening, or video. At this point, extra information can be provided. For example, in answering question 7 above, I tell the story of the Irish man sitting next to me on an airplane who gave me this lovely nonsense.
Here is a different type of quiz that can be useful for introducing the differences and similarities across cultures.
Choose the odd one out of the following items:
a) Earthquakes b) Sushi restaurants c) Snow d) High level of education
The correct answer is 'earthquakes' because you can find all the others both in Ireland and in Japan, but there are no earthquakes in Ireland. Again, getting the correct answer is less important than thinking about the two cultures.
You can also ask students to quiz their partner about readings or other materials. Quizzes offer a high-interest activity that keeps students involved and learning.
An action log is a notebook used for written reflection on the activities done during class which also provides useful feedback for the teacher. Students write it up after each class or at the end of each class. By requiring students to evaluate each class activity for interest usefulness, difficulty, and , they must reconsider what they have learnt. Each student also records their target for speaking English, what they think they actually achieve, the names of their discussion partners, and their own comments on the activities. Some students get so interested in the target culture that they write several pages in comments each week.
When students have read an activity or listened to a story, you may like to use reformulation to allow them to check what they have learned and to reinforce it by retelling it to a partner. Reformulation simply means : 'Explain what you just learned to your partner in your own words.' It is a very simple technique, but has proved very successful for learning both culture and language. We often give readings for homework and require students to take notes on the content. These notes can be in the form of pictures, keywords, or mind-maps.
In the next class, we ask the students to reformulate the content of the reading with a partner using their notes without looking at the original paper. Reformulation is also effective after watching a short video extract or listening to a story. Through reformulation, students check what they have learnt, find out things that they have missed from their partner, and improve their language by noticing gaps in their own ability to explain.
As students watch a video or are engaged with some other materials, you can ask them to 'notice' particular features. For example, they could watch a video of a target-culture wedding and note all the differences with their own culture. Asking students to 'notice' gives a focus to the materials by making it into a task, rather than simply passive viewing or listening.
As mentioned above, prediction can be a useful tool in quizzes, but it can be equally useful in using almost any materials. Like 'noticing', prediction can engage the students more actively. For example, when you are telling a story, you can stop at a certain point and ask the students to predict how it will continue. Or, when you are giving out a reading for homework, first give the title of the reading and ask students to predict what they will learn. This will force them to review their existing knowledge of the topic and raise their curiosity about whether their prediction is correct or not.
Student research is one of the most powerful tools that we can use with college students because it combines their interests with the classroom. For example, after the first class, we ask students to search the internet or library and find information on any aspect of the target-culture that interests them. In the following class, students explain to their group what they have learned and answer any questions about it. This can lead to poster-sessions or longer projects. For some students, it can even lead to a long-term interest in the target-culture.
Some other types of activity that we have found useful include the following but with a bit of thought, most standard EFL activities can be easily adapted for use in the culture classroom. The most important point is to ensure that the students are actively engaged in the target culture and language.
3. Selling Points
In order to create cultural texture, we must be careful not to portray the culture as monolithic, nor to only teach the pleasant aspects. Activities and materials should portray different aspects of the culture. In other words, we need to 'sell' different views of the culture to our students. Introducing deliberate contrasts within a culture can be useful. Some different 'selling points' are contrasted below.
Attractive vs. Shocking
Similarities vs. Differences
Dark aspects of culture vs. Bright
Facts vs. Behavior
Historical vs. Modern
Old people vs. Young people
City life vs. Country life
Stated beliefs vs. Actual behavior
Lesson Plans by Grade Level
Lessons that provide students with opportunities to reflect on the cultural patterns that shape their perceptions. Activities are included to help students develop awareness of the many groups to which they belong and to build appreciation for the diverse cultures that share the planet.
The activities included in this section address these goals by helping students identify the factors that shape their individual views, promoting active appreciation for diversity in their classroom and world communities, and providing tools for analyzing information sources. Teachers are encouraged to review all the activities and to select or adapt the materials that are most appropriate for their students.
A Standards-Based Thematic Unit Using the Learning Scenario as An Organizing Framework
An ACTFL Issues Paper by Alfred N. Smith, Utah State University
A Conceptual Model of Culture Learning:
Earlier models (Brooks, 1975; Nostrand, 1974) tended to view culture as a relatively invariate and static entity made up of accumulated, classifiable, observable, thus eminently teachable and learnable "facts." This perspective focused on surface level behavior, but did not look at the underlying value orientations, nor did it recognize the variability of behavior within the target cultural community, the participative role of the individual in the creation of culture, or the interaction of language and culture in the making of meaning (Moore, 1991). By contrast, the more recent models mentioned above see culture as dynamic and variable, i.e., it is constantly changing, its members display a great range of behaviors and different levels of attention to the guiding value orientations, and meaning is continuously being constructed through human interaction and communication. This major transformation in perspective has also been characterized by conceptual shifts from culture-specific to culture-general models of intercultural competence, cultural stereotypes to cultural generalizations, cultural absolutes to cultural variations (within and across cultures), and culture as distinct from language to culture as integral to language. Language in this process plays a fascinating and complex double role: it is a medium for as well as shaper of culture.
Definition of culture learning:
"Culture learning is the process of acquiring the culture-specific and culture-general knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for effective communication and interaction with individuals from other cultures. It is a dynamic, developmental, and ongoing process which engages the learner cognitively, behaviorally, and affectively."
Culture learning goals and outcomes:
In this newer perspective, the learning goals shift from the memorization of cultural facts (including sociolinguistic conventions for language use) to higher order learning outcomes including: the acquisition of "interactional competence" (a term suggested by Allen and Moore at the 1996 culture conference in Minneapolis) and learning how to learn about culture. According to Paige (1997), such learning would include:
- learning about the self as a cultural being,
- learning about culture and its impact on human communication, behavior, and identity,
- culture-general learning, i.e., learning about universal, cross-cultural phenomena such as cultural adjustment,
- culture-specific learning, i.e., learning about a particular culture, including its language, and,
- learning how to learn, i.e., becoming an effective language and culture learner.
A Conceptual Model of Culture Learning
By Michael Paige, Helen Jorstad, Laura Siaya, Francine Klein, Jeanette Colby
- Culture-General: Intercultural Phenomena
- cultural adjustment stages
- culture shock
- intercultural development
- culture learning
- cultural identity
- cultural marginality
- "little c" target culture knowledge
- "Big C" target culture knowledge
- sociolinguistic competence
- Culture General: Intercultural Skills
- culture learning strategies
- coping and stress management strategies
- intercultural communicative competence
- intercultural perspective-taking skills
- cultural adaptability
- transcultural competence
Culture Specific: Target Culture Skills
- little "c" culture-appropriate everyday behavior
- Big "C" culture-appropriate contextual behavior
- Culture General
- positive attitude toward different cultures
- positive attitude toward culture learning
- ethnorelative attitude regarding cultural differences
- positive attitude toward target culture
- positive attitude toward target culture persons
Culture Learning in Language Education: A Review of the Literature
Michael Paige, Helen Jorstad, Laura Siaya, Francine Klein, Jeanette Colby
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Only by personalizing activities and content can we hope to lead students to better cultural understanding. We can start off by talking about a distant country, but this will only result in stereotyping if we do not allow students to relate the same issues to their own lives. And as every language teacher knows, students love to talk about themselves.
Activities, not just 'Discussion'
I was reading a book on teaching culture recently and had to laugh at one activity. 'Step 1 - introduce the material. Step 2 - Lead a lively discussion.' This is probably possible with some high-level students in some parts of the world, but for most foreign-language students, instant lively discussion is an unlikely scenario. We have found that activities with simple instructions and a clear goal such as quizzes or surveys are very successful even with low-level learners. It is very easy to extend such activities into open-ended discussions if the opportunity arises. On the other hand, it is often impossible to transform open-ended 'discussion' activities (usually with no clear goal) into activities which work effectively with low-level learners.
Suitable Level of Difficulty
Know your students. Even though you may see yourself primarily as a teacher of culture, if you are working with EFL students, you must constantly remember that they probably will not understand everything that you say. It is not necessary that they understand every word and indeed a challenge is wonderful for learning, but consistently using material or a way of speaking that is too difficult is a sure way to make students lose their interest in a target-culture.
Make It Interesting
Of course, the culture is interesting to you, so you presume that it will be interesting for your students. However, imagine sometimes that you are studying the culture of a foreign country, one that you may have no intention of visiting. Pick out the interesting aspects of a culture and present them in a way that will engage students. By using the variety of approaches described above to create cultural texture and by employing your own enthusiasm, you should also be able to create an exciting class for your students.
Students learn more in groups. They have more opportunities for using the target language, discussing the target culture, and gaining additional perspectives on their own cultural.
Don't Try to Cover Everything
You can't. A culture is enormous. It consists of all the institutions, all the behavior, in fact all the man-made aspects of a very large group of non-homogeneous people. All that we can do is provide some pathways to enter into learning more about the culture. After all, we never know everything about our own culture. We should not be disappointed that we cannot teach everything but rather be happy that we are able to raise intercultural awareness at all.
Learn Your Students' Language and Culture and Understand Your Own Cultural Baggage
One of the oddest things in the world must be a language teacher who only speaks one language or a culture teacher who only knows one culture. We are so immersed in our own culture that we can only understand it by trying to see it from the outside. Imposing our own values without making an attempt to understand our students' values is imperialistic and arrogant. We must remember that intercultural understanding runs both ways.
Practical Techniques for Teaching Culture in the EFL Classroom
There is no question that the successful integration of culture and language teaching can contribute significantly to general humanistic knowledge, that language ability and cultural sensitivity can play a vital role in the security, defense, and economic well-being of any country, and that global understanding ought to be a mandatory component of basic education.
* Brooks, N. 1975. The analysis of foreign and familiar cultures. In Lafayette, R. (ed.). The Culture Revolution in Foreign Language Teaching. Skokie, Illinois: National Textbook Company.
Buttjes, D. (1990). Teaching foreign language and culture: Social impact and political significance. Language Learning Journal, 2, 53-57.
Finnocchario M. (1964), English as a second language: From theory to practice. New York: Simon and Schuster
Nostrand, F.B. & Nostrand, H.L.. 1970. Testing Understanding of the Foreign Culture//Seelye, H.N. ed. Perspectives for Teachers of Latin American Culture. Springfield, IL: Office of Public Instruction, 123-127.
Lafayette, R.C. (1978), Teaching Culture: Strategies and Techniques, Virginia: Arlington.
Lafayette, R. (1988). Integrating the teaching of culture into the foreign language classroom. In Allan J. Singerman (Ed.)., Towards a new integration of language and culture. Reports of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Middlebury, VT: The Northeast Conference.
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Page created on April 25, 2001 | Last updated on May
Copyright © 2001-2009 Nada Salem Abisamra
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