High everyone.

This is the final installment of my 3 – part series on the topic of culture and in this entry, we will be looking at how to integrate and teach it in our lessons!

Rather than actually listing a number of tasks and activities – impossible given the scope of the topic anyway! – I’ve provided suggestions bearing in mind the specific cultural aspects I talked about in my first entry.

Before we start though, and at the risk of stating the obvious it is worth remembering that, ultimately, in the words of Johnson & Rinvolucri (2010), we want out students:

  • to become more aware of their target-culture norms and behaviourshow to teach culture
  • to recognize and understand more about other cultural beliefs and norms
  • to look a little beyond cultural stereotypes and develop more empathy towards other cultures
  • to also develop a much more profound awareness of their home culture.

 

In addition, tasks and activities that are aligned with these goals should also privilege some of the different types of thinking below:

  • Reflecting: activities carried out should get students to reflect and analyse culture(s).
  • Sharing: we want our students to share ideas without prejudice and to start to empathise with people from different backgrounds
  • Comparing: students will naturally contrast different cultural products or norms with the ones they are used to in their home culture.

 

So how do we go about this then? Well, let’s look at the following cultural aspects:

  • Recognizing cultural images and symbols

One way of doing this would be to explore song lyrics, from YouTube for example. Choose a song that has cultural references, for example in regards to friendship, independence, love, loyalty, power etc. Students can listen to the song to identify the values, work through a question sheet and discuss them with their peers.

  • Working with cultural products

A fantastic idea here would be to work with TV schedules, for example from the US or the UK or any other country for that matter, which are all readily available on the internet through online newspapers. By deducing information from TV schedules, again possibly through guided questions, students would gain a greater awareness of the target culture.

  • Examining patterns of everyday life

There is a whole variety here of interesting ideas to explore, from dating customs to punctuality, shopping habits and comparing common social and personal problems. A great source of information linked to this is the book Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands (2006) by Morrison, T. & Conaway, W.

  • Examining cultural behavior

This could easily be done by exploring a short clip from a TV series of even a film – again Youtube is a great source for this –  with a number of key questions related to behavior or to use a worksheet comparing cultural practices. Tomalin, B. & Stempleski, S. (2003) have some great ideas on how to deal with this in their book Cultural Awareness.

  • Examing patterns of communication

Exploring body language and non-verbal signals, as well as comparing how people from different countries communicate on social media is a fun and engaging manner to explore this aspect.

  • Exploring values and attitudes

A possibility here is to look at adverts from different countries and to examine the values they represent. Alternatively, students could be given a list of values on a handout and are asked to tick the ones they think are represented in the commercial, and then examining whether these values are also present in their culture.

That’s it then! Hope it was helpful. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next month with another series on something completely different. Let me know how you get on… bye for now!

Tobie Pilloy
Tobie Pilloy works at the Cultura Inglesa Academic Department. He is currently involved with varied training initiatives and designing an upper-intermediate course for adults and teenagers. He graduated from the University of Southbank in London in Media Communications in 2000 and is currently studying for his DELTA qualification. He started teaching in 1997 and has extensive EFL experience in the UK, Luxembourg, Tanzania, Singapore and Canada in public and private schools.