How to lead students to do international cultural exchange, where are the resources and lesson planning – An #ELTChat Summary

Close-up of gondolier, by Chiew Pang (@AClilToClimb) - @eltpics

Last Wednesday’s evening session of #ELTChat focused on what a lot of educators (including myself) consider to be an important element to teach – leading students to international cultural exchange – and how to plan for these lessons and find resources.

The material that came out of this ELTChat is so useful for educators who wish to incorporate culture in their language teaching.

First of all, Marisa Constantinedes, @Marisa_C made a point of asking us to define culture. The answers that came up were:

  • Sharon Noseley (@shaznosel) came up with this nice and short definition: Culture – traditions/politeness/formal language.
  • I mentioned that culture is interacting with people from other countries, in combination with the students΄own cultures and what they can learn from each other.
  • James Taylor (@theteacherjames) : Culture is set of customs & beliefs that roughly represent the society you come from.

The ways we came up with connecting our students with others worldwide are:

  • Sharon Hartle (@hartle) mentioned that in their tandem project, two students from different countries teach each other with help from advisers, then write up summaries of their experience.
  • Wiktor Kostrzewski (@Wiktor_K) has sed this idea: A warmer he did for his British Culture Uni class was: 1. “Show me what’s in your bag.” 2. “Now tell me what this stuff says about you.” He added that he was thinking of getting groups to take photos of a “corner” of their houses that tells their story.
  • I mentioned that with our school in Greece, some kids had the opportunity to visit Canada and meet other kids from everywhere around the world.
  • Sandy Millin (@sandymillin) said that encouraging students to ask questions about each others’ cultures in multilingual classes are always the most motivating.
  • Shaun Wilden (@ShaunWilden) made a very important point that today technology is a very important tool in integrating culture in language teaching.
  • An idea I use with my adults is that they do Powerpoint presentations about their countries, the the rest ask them questions and develop into nice conversations.

Marisa then posed the question if the coursebooks and materials we use integrate culture well with the language we teach. Berni Wall @rliberni said that it depends on the context. Marisa mentioned that she finds the majority of coursebooks a bit British-centred and I added that sometimes they also fall into stereotyping.

Traditional soft toys from Myanmar, by Cherry Philipose (@cherrymp) - @eltpics

Ideas that were shared about how teachers actually brought their students into contact with other cultures were:

With so many ideas on how to include international cultural exchange in your classroom, all we can say is have fun by having various cultures in your language teaching! Students always benefit from this, linguistically and culturally.


5 thoughts on “How to lead students to do international cultural exchange, where are the resources and lesson planning – An #ELTChat Summary

  1. I learnt a great activity during my TESOL training on cultural awareness that I’ve adapted and continue to use for this purpose with students (now among many other purposes). I created a number of descriptions of fake countries with their strange customs, traditions and beliefs. I meant to make them similar to another culture from my class, but more extreme (e.g. one was that this culture has no concern of personal space, so they stand very close to whomever they speak; another suggested that they shied away from any conversation related to movies–a taboo topic for their culture, etc.). Then I divvy the class into pairs and give each pair one culture to represent. After going over unknown terms, I tell students that they are meeting for an international conference and it’s a mixer to get to know each other before a session starts. Students walk around and act like those cultures they are given, noting their interactions with each other.

    After 20 minutes or so, I ask them to speak with their partner (who had the same culture originally) to compare their impressions of the other people. We discuss what it felt like to feel those interactions and to suggest why the other cultures may have acted the way they did. Also, what issues may come up for people from those cultures when traveling, etc.

    It typically brings about a great deal of introspection and reflection, hopefully along with sensitivity to others too.

    1. Hi Tyson,

      I absolutley love this idea for the classroom! (Don’t mind if I pinch it, ha ha !?)

      I think it brings mor understanding to students in various elements of culture – why people react the way they do, what happens in different situations and so on. All this, while practising their language as well.

      There you go again, you gave me another idea… ; )


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s