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.
Ideas that were shared about how teachers actually brought their students into contact with other cultures were:
- http://www.friendsandflags.org/ Naomi Epstein from Israel (@naomishema) suggested this one, as she and her classes made packages and exchanged with students in other countries.
- http://www.etwinning.net/en/pub/index.htm Edith Occelli (@EdithOccelli) who was participating for the first time – welcome Edith! – suggested this one.
- http://www.epals.com Sharon (@shaznosel) mentioned this one – lots of us have used this one!
- http://t.co/ntrhOHSh I mentioned this post called “Who CARES what English people have for breakfast?” My contribution to the culture debate… by Ken Wilson from his blog. definitely worth reading!
- Anna Varna (@annabooklover) recommended the book Where children sleep as a great source of inspiration and talk.
- Sue Lyon-Jones (@esolcourses) said that she works British culture into lessons a lot, but also tries to inject a global/multicultural perspective whenever possible.
- Intercultural Language Activities by John Corbett is a book I suggested and Marisa also likes as a resource for weaving culture into lessons – she also mentioned another great book, by David Nunan this time, Language and Culture: Reflective Narratives and the Emergence of Identity
- Skype talks were also suggested as a means of opening up communication among students.
- Antonia Clare (@antoniaclare) showed us a beautiful example of students making films of their own cultures – for instance festivals: http://t.co/Q6GRJ17d
- Berni pointed us to a super YouTube channel with a lot of material: http://t.co/LddSiBEn
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.