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Ten Techniques For Teaching Culture

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Joe McVeigh and Ann Wintergerst describe 10 ways of teaching culture in the ESL classroom. Download Word handout at www.joemcveigh.org/resources

Joe McVeigh and Ann Wintergerst describe 10 ways of teaching culture in the ESL classroom. Download Word handout at www.joemcveigh.org/resources

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  • 1. Ten Techniques for Teaching Culture in the Classroom
  • 2. Joe McVeigh Ann Wintergerst
  • 3. The handout and bibliography that accompany this presentation may be downloaded at www.joemcveigh.org/resources Navigate to the section For teachers, trainers, consultants, and materials developers then scroll down to Ten Techniques for Teaching Culture in the Classroom - TESOL 2010 - Boston (Word Handout)
  • 4. 1. Brainstorming: Definitions of culture
  • 5. Culture is . . .
    • Take a minute to write down your own definition of culture. Complete this sentence:
    • Culture is ________________________ .
  • 6. Culture is . . .
    • Take two minutes to discuss your responses with the person next to you.
  • 7.  
  • 8. What is culture?
    • Is culture a question of “content” such as holidays, films, literature, and food?
    • Or is culture a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors?
  • 9. What is culture?
    • Culture = an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society. Culture refers to the total way of life of particular groups of people. It includes everything that a group of people thinks, says, does and makes—its systems of attitudes and feelings. Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation (Kohls 1996)
  • 10. Technique: Teaching culture example
  • 11. 1. Brainstorming: Definitions of culture
  • 12. 2. Critical Incidents Nonverbal Communication
  • 13. 2. Critical Incidents
    • A critical incident offers students a brief story or vignette in which some type of cultural miscommunication takes place. Students read and discuss the incident to try to understand why the miscommunication took place and how it could have been prevented.
  • 14. Critical Incidents
    • Steps:
    • Prepare copies of the critical incidents.
    • Divide students in small groups.
    • Distribute the handouts to the students. Tell them how many incidents you want them to discuss.
    • Direct the students to read the incidents one at a time and to work together to answer the questions at the top of the handout.
    • As a class, discuss the critical incidents, the solutions from each group, and the area of cultural conflict described.
  • 15. Critical Incidents
    • Take two minutes to read one of the critical incidents on page 2 of the handout. With the person next to you, discuss how the misunderstanding could have been prevented.
  • 16.  
  • 17. Critical Incidents
    • Possible interpretations:
    • Critical Incident 1: Eye contact . The use and meaning of eye contact varies from culture to culture. In Japan individuals are taught at an early age to avoid eye contact with superiors and elders. In Canada it is considered an insult to avoid eye contact when someone, regardless of age and position, addresses you.
    • Critical Incident 2: Touching . In some cultures touching another person is unacceptable whether male or female. In Turkey, Greece, Latin American countries, and Arab countries, among others, touching is a common cultural practice between those of the same gender. This, however, is unacceptable in the United States, Canada, northern European countries, and some Asian countries.
  • 18. Critical Incidents
    • Note that students are not given answer choices but are asked to come up with their own conclusions.
  • 19. 3. Acting it out: Nonverbal communication
  • 20. Acting It Out
    • Conversational management.
    • Nonverbal cues
      • Interested
      • Not interested
      • Want to end the conversation
  • 21. Nonverbal cues
    • Gazing intently at the speaker to indicate interest.
    • Looking over the speaker’s shoulder as if there is something more interesting that you would like to go and do.
    • Responding with enthusiastic nonverbal sounds e.g. Um-hmm!
    • Responding with unenthusiastic, monotone nonverbal sounds.
    • Tapping a hand, finger, or foot to indicate boredom.
    • Avoiding eye contact with the speaker.
  • 22. Steps to Acting it Out
    • Choose a volunteer. Without identifying which one, role-play one of the cues. Ask the class to identify which cue you are role playing and the meaning.
    • Form pairs. Choose a dialog from one of your textbooks. One student is the primary speaker and the other is the respondent. Have them practice the nonverbal behaviors above. Then ask students to switch roles.
    • To finish the activity, ask the class to describe what happened during their role plays. Was it clear to them when the listener was interested and when not? Could they tell when the listener wanted to end the conversation?
  • 23. 4. True/false activities: Testing across cultures
  • 24. Testing across cultures
    • Ideas about grading vary from culture to culture (H.D. Brown 2004)
    • Emphasis on interdependence leading to helping not competing
    • Some cheating on exams expected and viewed as common sense
    • Unaware of the sanctions for cheating and plagiarism
    • (Carnegie Mellon University 2006)
  • 25. True / false activities
    • Answer the questions at the bottom of page 2 of your handout.
  • 26. True / false activities
    • Students need to commit to an answer before it gets discussed.
  • 27. 5. Mime / charades
  • 28. Mime / Charades
    • Explore the symptoms of culture shock (handout p. 3)
  • 29. Culture shock pantomime
    • Write the word “culture shock” on the board and ask students what they think it means.
    • Help students learn the vocabulary words (on the handout p. 3)
    • Write the list of symptoms on small individual pieces of paper. Hand them out to students at random so that each student has at least one paper.
  • 30. Culture shock pantomime
    • Explain to students the concept of mime or charades.
    • Break students into medium-sized groups. Give students time to plan. Circulate and help if needed.
    • Instruct students to take turns acting out their symptoms, while other students attempt to guess them.
    • When everyone has had a chance, discuss the symptoms as a class. Explain that such symptoms are normal and quite common. Ask students if they have experienced any of the symptoms. Remind them that it is normal and natural to do so. Ask students if they have experienced any other symptoms of culture shock.
  • 31. 6: Self- Awareness & Feedback
  • 32. Preparation
    • Write on the board: feeling tired, eating more or less, tight muscles (especially in shoulders and jaw), difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, irritability, headaches, worrying, and unhappiness.
    • Introduce the topic of culture shock
  • 33. Symptoms and strategies
    • Ask students to think about other causes and symptoms of stress. Write their ideas on the board.
    • Ask students about any ideas they have or strategies they use for dealing with stress. Write their ideas on the board.
  • 34.
    • If students haven't mentioned the following, add them to the list on the board:
      • deep breathing
      • progressive muscle relaxation
      • meditation (mindfulness, guided imagery, repetitive prayer)
      • exercise (yoga, tai-chi, walking)
      • massage therapy (by others, by self)
    Stress-busters
  • 35. Follow-up
    • Share information with your students about how to explore these and other techniques at your institution’s health center, by doing research online, or by checking their local library or community center.
    • Have students think about a personal plan that could help them reduce stress.
  • 36. 7. Agreement & completion: Gender and language
  • 37. Gender and language
    • How men and women view interaction
    • For women, “communication is primarily a way to establish and maintain relationships with others” (Tannen 1990)
    • “The primary purpose of communication for men is to exert control, preserve independence, and enhance status” (Tannen 1990)
  • 38. Gender and language
    • When talking with each other, women give and receive equal turns
    • They show support and sympathy for each other
    • They use questions to probe for greater understanding of feelings
    • They work hard to keep the conversation going
    • They are responsive to the comments of others
    • They speak in concrete and personal terms
    • They are sometimes tentative or apologetic
    • Men focus more on gathering data or solving problems.
    • They tend to express superiority and maintain control, dominating the conversation.
    • They are not very responsive, may assert themselves, and may speak in abstract terms removed from personal experience.
    • (Wood 1994)
  • 39. Agreement / Completion
    • Handout – page3
  • 40. 8. Graphic organizers: Social and group identity
  • 41. Social and group identity
    • American proverb: “Show me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”
    • Our social identity is linked to:
      • the roles we play in life such as student, teacher, parent, or sibling
      • our physical features such as ethnicity, gender, or age
      • the memberships we hold such as belonging to a club, an organization, or a political party
  • 42. Social and group identity
    • We identify with groups because we share similar traits and concerns with their members.
    • We add to our social identity by learning about our traditions, language, religion, genealogy, and social structures.
    • How we communicate with others is not only affected by our culture but also by the group memberships we hold within that culture.
  • 43. Social identity graphic organizer
    • Steps :
    • Introduce students to the concept of group identity by using yourself as an example. List on the board some of your group affiliations. Ask students to suggest other groups and categories.
    • Ask students to write down a list of the groups of which they are members.
    • Put students in pairs and ask them to share their lists with each other.
    • Distribute the chart called “Recognize social identity.” Have the pairs of students write their group memberships on the chart, using different colors.
  • 44. Social identity example Family (parents, siblings) Extended family PERSONAL Religion – Catholic Music activities – singing Recreation -- bowling German background New Yorker SOCIA L CULTURAL
  • 45. Graphic organizers
    • Recognize social identity (handout p. 3)
    • Table completion exercise
  • 46. 9. Culture assimilators
  • 47. Using a culture assimilator (1)
    • One of the classic methods of teaching culture is through the culture assimilator (Seeley 1993):
    • … describes a “critical incident” of cross cultural interaction that is usually a common occurrence in which a [foreign visitor] and a host national interact, a situation one or both find puzzling or conflictual or that they are likely to misinterpret, and a situation that can be interpreted in a fairly unequivocal manner, given sufficient knowledge about the other’s culture.
  • 48. Using a culture assimilator (2)
    • After having read the incident (a paragraph or two), students answer an interpretive question.
    • Students are presented with four answer options, but only one is correct.
    • After having selected an answer, students are directed to feedback.
    • Having chosen an incorrect answer, students are given redirection, reread the passage, and choose another answer.
    • Having answered correctly, students are given a more detailed description of why their answer is correct.
  • 49. Using a culture assimilator (3)
    • Culture assimilators are difficult to write correctly and care must be taken to ensure:
      • The incident is reasonably natural rather than too artificial.
      • The incorrect answers are sufficiently possible as not to be rejected immediately, but not too similar to the correct answer.
      • The explanations offered for the distractors lead to learning.
      • The correct answer is such that a native speaker would answer it correctly without any difficulty.
  • 50. Culture Assimilator
    • Helmut, a businessman from Germany, flew to Rome for the day to attend a meeting with Alberto, an Italian partner. After this meeting, Helmut needed to attend a series of other meetings later in the day. The meeting with Alberto was scheduled for 10:00am on Monday. There were many important issues that needed to be discussed before Helmut’s second meeting with another client at 11:00am. The results of the first meeting were important for the discussions and the decisions to be made later that day.
  • 51. Culture Assimilator
    • Helmut was enjoying a cup of coffee as he waited in the conference room for Alberto to arrive. It was now 10:00am.and no one had yet appeared. Then it was 10:15, and Helmut was still alone in the room. Finally, it was 10:30 and Alberto strolled in. Helmut was angry. Alberto asked his German colleague, “Why are you so angry because I came at 10:30?” Helmut replied that the meeting was scheduled for 10:00 in his appointment book. Alberto quickly responded, “Simply replace 10:00 with 10:30 and we’ll both be content. After all, time is irrelevant. It’s our business arrangement and our relationship that matters.”
  • 52. Culture Assimilator
    • Why do you think Alberto wasn’t bothered by being late, while Helmut was furious?
    • A. Alberto had other things to attend to and did not care about being on time or not.
    • B. Meetings can easily be rearranged for both parties involved.
    • C. Germans are only interested in schedules and punctuality and not in the content of the meeting.
    • D. Italians organize their time in a different way from that of Germans.
  • 53. Culture Assimilator
    • You chose A: It is unlikely that Alberto had more important things to do than to be on time at a meeting with a business colleague who flew in from Germany just to conduct business.
    • You chose B: It is unlikely since Helmut had a tight schedule and Alberto’s lateness reduced the amount of time they were able to discuss their business ventures.
    • You chose C: It is unlikely since Helmut had other meetings scheduled for the day, so both punctuality and content were both important to him.
    • You chose D: This is the correct answer. Southern Europeans, such as Italians, organize their time and life in a different way from that of Germans and Americans. Reality is more important than a schedule or punctuality to Alberto. In other words, his priority as an Italian is the event and not the time.
  • 54. 10. Surveys / adapted Likert scale: Respecting others
  • 55. Respecting others
    • One of the most important goals of multicultural education is to end discrimination by valuing diversity and ethnic differences.
    • It is one of our goals as teachers to be sure that there is equal respect for people of all backgrounds in our classrooms. But there are significant barriers to this.
  • 56. Respecting others
    • One challenge to harmony in the language classroom is ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the tendency of a culture to view its own assumptions, values, and beliefs as normal and those of another culture as odd, different, or wrong.
    • Ethnocentrism taken to extremes can result in prejudice , which can have an even more serious impact on classroom dynamics and student learning. Prejudice refers to the emotional component of people’s reactions to other groups. It involves not only a set of beliefs about others, which are captured in stereotypes, but it is also a deeply felt set of feelings about what is good and bad, right and wrong, moral and immoral, and so forth.
  • 57. Surveys / adapted Likert scale
    • Make copies of the handout on page 4
    • The purpose of this activity is to help students think about how they work together with others—especially those who are different from themselves.
    • Tell students that you will be having a discussion about tolerance and prejudice. Write these words on the board and define them: tolerance : the willingness to accept others and their behaviors even if you do not like them; prejudice: an unfair feeling of dislike against someone who is different from you.
    • Have students complete the survey
    • Lead students in a discussion about differences and responding to those who are different from us. Try to elicit from students ways in which we all might be more sensitive, tolerant, and helpful to others.
  • 58. Questions & Discussion
  • 59.
    • Activities in this presentation are taken from Tips for Teaching Culture: Practical Approaches to Intercultural Communication by Ann C. Wintergerst & Joe McVeigh © 2010 Pearson Longman.
    • Permission granted to copy for classroom use.
  • 60. Available online at Pearson Longman or Amazon ISBN-13: 978-0-13-245822-1 ISBN-10: 0-13-245822-5
  • 61. Copies of the accompanying PowerPoint slides and handout with bibliography available at: www.joemcveigh.org /resources You can also download this presentation on
  • 62. Photo Credits
    • The following photos used under a Creative Commons Attribution license and found on flickr
    • Tibetan mandala “Wonderlane”
    • Blueprints Todd Ehlers
    • Taking the plunge Mark Donoher
    • Woman gesturing David Goehring
    • Test “hyperscholar”
    • Culture shock “jovike”
    • Woman and man Michele Sandberg
    • People at a party See-ming Lee
    • Time David Goehring
    • Women talking ryanne “laihui”
    • Question mark Ethan Lofton
    • Thank you flower Joanne Q. Escober
  • 63. Thank you ! www.joemcveigh.org

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