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Techniques for Teaching Culture

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Rod Cortes

on 19 January 2013

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Transcript of Techniques for Teaching Culture

Oxford (1994) has used the term ‘cultural texture‘ to describe the many aspects of culture that we need to teach to our students. To achieve this texture, we need to vary three different parameters:
- Information Sources,
- Activity-types and
- Selling-points. 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. Creating 'Cultural Texture' Techniques for
Teaching Culture Information Sources 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 and 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. Activity Types 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. Other ideas are: * Video
* CDs
* TV
* Readings
* Internet
* Stories
* Students own information
* Songs
* Newspapers
* Realia * Fieldwork
* Interviews
* Guest speakers
* Anecdotes
* Souvenirs
* Photographs
* Surveys
* Illustrations
* Literature References
1. Omaggio-Hadley, A.(1993). Teaching language in context. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.
2. Oxford, R. L.(1994). Teaching culture in the language classroom: Towards a new philosophy. In J. Alatis (ed.), Georgetown University Round Table on Language and Linguistics 1994 (pp. 26-45). Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.
3. Seelye, H. N. (1993). Teaching culture: Strategies for intercultural communication (2nd ed.). Lincolnwood, Ill: National Textbook Company. Quizzes
Quizzes can be used to test materials that you have previously taught, but they are also useful in learning new information. In a True or False quiz, students can 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. Action Logs
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 what they think they actually achieved. Some students get so interested in the target culture that they write several pages in comments each week. Reformulation
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 can ask students to take notes during a reading, video or listening to a story. Then, we ask the students to reformulate the content of the reading with a partner using their notes. Through reformulation, students check what they have understood and find out things that they have missed from a partner. Noticing
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. Prediction
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 you can ask students to predict what they will learn. This will force them to review their existing knowledge of the topic and raise their curiousity about whether their prediction is correct or not. Research
Student research combines interests with the classroom. For example, after the first class, we ask students to search the internet to 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. 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. Other examples are:
* Games
* Role Play
* Field trips
* Reading activities
* Listening activities
* Writing activities
* Discussion activities
* Singing * Attractive vs. Shocking
* Similarities vs. Differences
* Dark aspects of culture vs. Bright
* Facts vs. Behaviour
* Historical vs. Modern
* Old people vs. Young people
* City life vs. Country life
* Stated beliefs vs. Actual behaviour
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