One of the good things about migration is the opportunities it brings for learning about other cultures. In this speaking and discussion activity students will be able to share their views and knowledge of other cultures. The activity is based on themes from the British Council OPENCities project.

Preparation
Download the interview questions and make enough copies so that every student can have one.


Procedure

  • If you have some music(s) from a different culture, it might be nice to bring it in and play it to your students, and see if they know where the music is from. You can find some examples and information about World Music at: http://worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com/. This can be your lead in to discussing other cultures. You can also use images from Flickriver. Just click on this link: http://flickriver.com/search/culture/. You can download these images and print them for classroom use, or if you have a computer and projector in your classroom, open the link and start showing the students some of the images. Get their reactions and ask them if they know which countries the images come from and how they relate to culture.
  • Ask the students if they have ever experienced another culture, either through travel and holidays or knowing someone from another culture.
  • Tell the students that they are going to explore their views of other cultures. Hand out the interview sheets and put the students into pairs. Tell them to ask and answer the questions with their partner.
  • You may want to put students into new pairs once they have had the opportunity to discuss for a little while.
  • Be sure to monitor carefully and help with vocabulary. You may also want to check to be sure there are no strong disagreements among the students.
  • You might want to end the activity with a full class discussion.
  • Try to focus on any new vocabulary that has come up during the lesson.


If your students are really interested in discovering more about other cultures you could explore the eLanguages website at: http://www.elanguages.org/ and look for projects you and your students can get involved in.
 

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Comments

Hello Nik,
I appreciate posting this topic. It's something we encounter everyday in our classrooms.
I live in Granada, southern Spain, and we have more and more children and adolescents from other countries, for example, and it is just one example, from Morocco.
My experience is nice. Maybe I am a fortunate teacher, but I think the same happens to many more teachers. Perhaps there is some bullying, out of the classroom, but as I say, I see my students together, at the playground, or in excursions to Sierra Nevada. The biggest number of students are from America: Bolivia, Ecuador. At tutorials they do not tell me anything wrong about treatment with other boys.
Fortunately they "fight" together in the football small league, aslo vs other schools.
With these South-American students I have no problems, evidently, with the language. Besides I in some way make friends with these kids and their families. The students tell me their things, in a natural way. Well, fortunately the students from Magrebi can already speak Spanish. Anyway I confess I deepen little in their cultures, in the classroom, I mean. I have a sort of fear or the like to bring out talking about their origin-countries. Except when I am with a single student at a tutorial: I try to know about their family, I friendly joke about their sisters' names, and we have a small laugh, as the most natural thing.
Well, as I've said, this is my experience.
Best for the staff of this website and my colleague teachers
Fernando M Díez Gallego
Teacher of English. Teacher trainer.
http://fernandoexperiences.blogspot.com
PS.: Honestly, when I instruct other teachers, we normally don't talk about different countries or very little: we are more concerned for the students' tracking, etc.

The problem with the framework for this activity is that it establishes a rather simplistic binary opposition between 'self' and 'other' - presupposing that there is a distinction between the learner's 'own' and 'another' culture. It does not allow for the fact that learners could belong to different cultures simultaneously; nor does it allow for the concept of pluralism. I suggest that the questionnaire would lead to the reinvocation of stereotypes which often impede rather than encourage cross-cultural communication.

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