Culture Through Language
By Vicky Loras
The Loras Network
1st Loras Network Workshop
on Bilingualism and Multilingualism
September 22, 2013
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
• 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 http://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics)
• According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
language: the words, their pronunciation, and the
methods of combining them used and understood
by a community
(Image from www.sayhellototheworld.eu)
Speaking of Languages...
(Image taken from http://infographiclabs.com/showcase/speaking-of-languages/ )
• How many and which ones do you speak?
• How did you choose them?
• Which one do you prefer to express yourself in?
Why do we / our learners
We learn languages:
• because we like them
• to visit other countries or
• after visiting them
• to enrich our knowledge
• we cannot stop learning
I learn languages...
...go upstairs, turn right.
(Photo by Vicky Loras, Brussels from the album Bilingualism)
• Could you please tell me where the bathrooms
• 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.
Understanding in various
Colour in languages:
• English: Ooooooooh!
• Greek: Aaaaaah!
• Swiss German: A- hoooooooaaah!
• There once was a boy in my class
(Image taken from
• 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 : http://growglobe.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/embrace-diversity.jpg)
DIFFERENT IS GREAT...
DIFFERENT IS BEAUTIFUL!
(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)
Culture through Language
• Ken Wilson’s Blog: ‘Who Cares What English
People Have for Breakfast?’
(Image taken from http://blog.beatthebrochure.com/wp-content/uploads/
As long as we:
• Avoid stereotyping and generalisations
• Are careful with cultural mentions
• Take care of any unfortunate incidents
different languages but...
(Images from: blog.triptrotting.com, http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com