Thanks to the Saarbruechen teacher's day in Germany last week for a useful activity called cultural brainstorm. It's simple. Each student has to prepare a question about British culture. NOTE: Never ask 'Have you any questions?' Always, 'What questions do you want to ask?' (Teachers/students think they ought to have questions so they think of some. Thanks to Matthew George for that insight. It's a great way of motivating students and also of running a class if you're on standby or have had no tme to prepare.
1 Pose the question. 'What questions ...?'
On the IH Business Cultural Trainer's Certificate we recommend a number of resources for cultural research and teaching. Here they are. What resources have you found useful? Post them on this site so that we can all share.
Our pedagogic practice has always been an important concern in our daily professional activity. We are constantly analysing methods and approaches, evaluating their nature, strenghts and weaknesses. We make our own judgments and decisions at teaching time.
Some inevitable questions arise from our reflections such as :
-What are our students expected to achieve?
What processes do English Language learners use in mastering the language?
-What should the role of the native language be?
-What method/ approach is the most effective for our group?
I think this is a really useful tool and a great way of saving teachers time. I recently did some training for teachers on how and why they should set up their own home page, so I'd like to share the presentation from that training session here. The link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TMP_TDD9PY
One of the three 'legs' of culture is 'cultural knowledge.', basic information about the culture of the country you are studying. The others are values and behaviour.
Here's a great idea for introducing/practising cultural knowledge.
Prepare a quiz of ten statements about British culture. The students must decide whether each one is true or false.
Make sure some of the statements focus on clear misunderstandings about Britian. Here is an example. Change it for your students as you wish.
This is an activity for raising empathy. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the other person's position so that you can appreciate their situation. It's called active listening because that is the most empathic form of listening.
It means listening not just to the words but really trying to absorb the speaker's personality, situation, concerns etc. Above all it means listening silently. I did this activity with Adrian Underhill's British Council Oxford Summer School and it really works.
This is partly an answer to DIM's blog where she said she had taught some idioms to her group, who then came back with some completely different ones. My feeling is that students using English at B2 level are never going to know all the idioms they need and the idioms are constantly changing. So the solution is to teach culturally appropriate ways of finding out what the idioms mean, without looking stupid. In other words, ask the right cultural questions. For example, what is wrong with this conversation? Abdul: I've got these new computer codes.
Angela Daniel made me think. How do you get cultural information across to students so that they absorb it and remember it? She says that what students learn themselves is much more valuable than what they are told (I paraphrase her words). She's right. So what I do is to adopt a technique of INTERACTIVE PRESENTATION.
Divide the information you want to present into into 60-90 minute chunks. Try and include some unexpected bits of information which are memorable.
1 Announce the topic.
I can see I'm blocking up (filling) the blogosphere so I'm going to retitle the culture lesson plans I'm offering as TEACHING ACTIVITIES. So BLOG 1-9 are all Teaching activities with lesson plans.
SYNERGIES AND DIFFERENCES is a great way of finding out about students' cultural perceptions and misconceptions and better still it requires no preparation! Do it for about 15 minutes, perhaps as an introduction to the study of a particular topic in the textbook.
Body language is an important aspect of intercultural communication and using video allows you to observe the body language in action. I classify body language as follows.
* Facial expressions. This includes eye contact, smiling etc.
* Gestures: arms folded, arms by the sides, arms waving about etc.
* Posture: how people stand, whether they lean forward or sit back, are relaxed or stiff.
* Proximity: how close people stand to each other
* Dress: How do people dress? Is it formal or informal?