Culture through language


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Culture through language

  1. 1. Culture Through Language By Vicky Loras The Loras Network 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism September 22, 2013
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 7. I learn languages...
  8. 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. 9. Understanding in various languages Colour in languages: • English: Ooooooooh! • Greek: Aaaaaah! • Swiss German: A- hoooooooaaah!
  10. 10. Billy’s Story • There once was a boy in my class called Billy... (Image taken from
  11. 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. 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. 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. 14. Different cultures, different languages but... (Images from:, and
  15. 15. Contacts: • E-mail: • Twitter: @vickyloras • Facebook: vicky.loras • Skype: vicky.loras • Blog: • The Loras Network: