Questioning Culture

When we start the year with the kiddos, we have high hopes, dreams and goals to reach throughout the year. We want to not only teach the language, but also the culture, get them to appreciate how learning about culture can be so rewarding. I have gotten used to surveying the kids at the beginning of the year, before doing a QFT (Question Formulation Technique-more on that later), a task I use to introduce a cultural topic, and then again at the end of the year, to see if I achieved anything in those high hopes, dreams and goals.

In the survey, I ask them what they believe to be culture, and then, if they believe it has any place in a language classroom. It is always interesting to see how the number of kids that don’t think culture should be included in the curriculum, diminishes over time. The thing is- we don’t necessarily teach using the word “culture”, yet, somehow they pick up on it, and realize that yeah, it’s normal to think a different way about stuff, and hey- “I wonder how they think about”… or “how do they…”? Then I saw this infographic, and I got so excited-

I mean- what if we did a QFT about culture itself- define it, (is there a definition the class can agree on?) or have it as a rubric – for each level tackles a few. For example, Level 1 and 2- family, fine arts, lit, food, and holidays, but the upper levels, and AP, that are more language proficient, would extend into beauty and aesthetics (a common AP theme), folklore (more on that in the next post), and even self esteem. At the end of the year, show this infographic again, and ask the kids to self-evaluate how culturally proficient they feel they are- what do they still want to learn a out, wonder about? In a Spanish classroom, how does this iceberg differ between Mexico, Argentina, and Spain?, Or Cote-d’Ivoire, Haiti and France for a French classroom? Or even Greek Americans in the US vs Greeks on the islands/provinces, vs Greeks from Athens? How are we all different or similar from each other in our cultural way of thinking, speaking, living?

If you have ideas for how you use this infographic, please share below.

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