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Culture through language


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  • 1. Culture Through Language By Vicky Loras The Loras Network 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism September 22, 2013
  • 2. My name is Vicky Loras... ...and I am multicultural. • Born in Canada • Parents born in Greece but raised in Canada • Family history dating back 300 years: Ancestors in France, Italy, then Greece... • Before that: Who knows? • I teach the English language • I carry my cultures into my classes – a mental backpack
  • 3. Culture • According to Merriam Webster Dictionary: culture: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group Strasbourg Cathedral Door, by Vicky Loras (Image taken from eltpics
  • 4. Language • According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary: language: the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community (Image from
  • 5. Speaking of Languages... (Image taken from ) • How many and which ones do you speak? • How did you choose them? • Which one do you prefer to express yourself in?
  • 6. Why do we / our learners learn languages? We learn languages: • because we like them • to visit other countries or • after visiting them • to enrich our knowledge • we cannot stop learning
  • 7. I learn languages...
  • 8. ...go upstairs, turn right. (Photo by Vicky Loras, Brussels from the album Bilingualism) • Could you please tell me where the bathrooms are? • Certainly. Please go up the stairs, turn left and you will see the bathrooms right in front of you. • Go up the stairs, turn left.
  • 9. Understanding in various languages Colour in languages: • English: Ooooooooh! • Greek: Aaaaaah! • Swiss German: A- hoooooooaaah!
  • 10. Billy’s Story • There once was a boy in my class called Billy... (Image taken from
  • 11. Young Learners • Get them talking about their own countries first • Show and Tell: They can bring in things from their countries (objects, souvenirs, food, music) • Then they start asking each other – Interaction! (Image taken from : DIFFERENT IS GREAT... DIFFERENT IS BEAUTIFUL!
  • 12. Adult Students First-lesson icebreakers (great opportunities for cultural elements to appear): • Would you take the last piece of cake at a reception, if you were hungry? • How would you feel if a colleague of yours got the job you really wanted? • How would you react if a colleague disagreed with your way of approaching a work problem? (Cambridge Business English Activities, 2000)
  • 13. Culture through Language Teaching? Why? • Ken Wilson’s Blog: ‘Who Cares What English People Have for Breakfast?’ ming-up-some-sort-of-culture-debate/ (Image taken from 2012/08/english-breakfast-blackpudding.jpg) As long as we: • Avoid stereotyping and generalisations • Are careful with cultural mentions • Take care of any unfortunate incidents immediately
  • 14. Different cultures, different languages but... (Images from:, and
  • 15. Contacts: • E-mail: • Twitter: @vickyloras • Facebook: vicky.loras • Skype: vicky.loras • Blog: • The Loras Network: