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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ways to teach culture



Top 10 Ways to Teach Culture
It has been said that culture is like an iceberg, that only ten percent of it is visible and the other ninety percent is hidden below the surface. For this reason, ESL teachers must make intentional efforts to teach cultural understanding and tolerance to their students.
How to Teach Culture In Your Classroom
1.  Food
Everyone eats, but not everyone eats the same things, and the differences in diet from one culture to the next can be very dramatic. You can let your students share their culture through food by inviting them to talk about or share dishes typical in their countries. To do this, have a cultural food fair or ask your students to prepare a national dish in a class presentation. If everyone in class gets a little taste, even better, just keep in mind food allergies that your students may have.
2.  Holidays
What better time to talk about traditional foods than during the holidays. Any holiday that pops up on the calendar is an excuse to celebrate any and all holidays from January to December. Ask each of your students to talk about a traditional holiday from their native culture. They can give information about the holiday itself as well as national and family traditions. The students in your class will enjoy sharing some of their traditions as well as hearing about those of their classmates.
3.  Clothing
Often another element of holidays or special occasions is traditional dress. It is not unusual for ESL students to bring some pieces of formal or traditional dress when they travel overseas to study. If you are teaching immigrants, your students also have a good chance of having these clothing items at home. You can invite your students to wear traditional clothing on a certain day or bring picture of themselves or others in traditional dress. Encourage each person to explain the significance of the different pieces, if any, and give an opportunity for everyone in class to ask questions.
4.  Time
While you are talking about holidays in your class, have another conversation about what people do in their free time. Generally, a person’s schedule will be reflective of his or her values. Looking at the typical distribution of time can give an insight into what is important in a given culture. Of the 168 hours in the week, how many do most people spend working? Studying? Going out with friends or spending quality time with family? The answers to these questions and the differences from one culture to another will help your students understand and appreciate what their classmates value.
5.  Music
While you are at it, does anyone in your class play a traditional instrument? That may not be all that common, but most students could probably play some popular music from their country for the class. Bring in an iPod dock and play a little rock and roll, then invite your students to share some of their music. Again, encourage open conversation and question among your students. Be sure to remind your class that national preferences vary as do personal preferences, and remind them to be sensitive to what their classmates share.


6.  Money
Why not bring culture into the classroom with a little show and tell? Set a day, perhaps at some point during a unit about business, to invite your students to bring in a sample of money from their native countries (which you should make note that they brought and make sure they bring home). Either collect all the money in one place or pass it around and let your students look at the coins and bills. Have them take note about who or what is pictured on the money, and give your students a chance to talk about these people and things. By sharing stories about what is important enough to put on the country’s currency, your students will gain another level of cultural understanding from their classmates.
7.  Traditional Stories
Traditional stories such as folk tales or tall tales are another way to bring culture and history into the classroom. You can have your students read English translations of traditional tales or have your students tell the stories to their classmates. By noticing who plays prominent roles in the stories and how they handle conflict, you and your students will see some more of what motivates and challenges a national group.
8.  Religion
Though religion is not necessarily a national value, allowing your students to share their religious beliefs and those that most members of their culture hold will also provide valuable opportunities for your students to understand one another. With a spirit of open-mindedness and acceptance, ask your students to share some religious practices or beliefs and allow the rest of the class to discuss the issues that may arise from the discussion. If everyone in your class can be tolerant of their classmates beliefs, there is the potential for a very powerful and informative discussion on the topic of religion, simplyproceed with caution.
9.  History
Often key events in a country’s past will either establish or define that culture’s values. You can give your students an opportunity to discuss significant events in their country’s history, and if you do asking, them to explain how those events influence their people today will give you an insight into culture. If you have done other activities on culture, you may have already touched on these events when talking about holidays or money, but looking at things from a historical perspective can add another layer of understanding for your students.
10.  Family
Not only does a country hold particular values, but families also hold certain values that they pass on to their children. Allowing your students to share about their families can open the door to talking about the values that their families hold. Talking about these family values will also often lead to a discussion about the values of a people group. When opportunities arise for your students to talk about their families, encourage it and perhaps your students will learn a little more about one another.
Culture permeates every aspect of our beings. These topics are just a few that you can use to intentionally bring a discussion of culture into the classroom. As a general rule, take advantage of any opportunities to talk about culture with an open mind.
You will be a better teacher for it, and your students will be better leaders of their nations.


Role play to teach culture



Role Play in Teaching Culture: Six Quick Steps for Classroom Implementation
Maria A. Kodotchigova
mashamaria2001 [at] yahoo.com
Tomsk State University, Russia
An extended version of this paper first appeared in:
Sysoyev, P.V. (Ed.). (2002).
 Identity, Culture, and Language Teaching. Iowa City, IA: Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies.
Abstract
As language and culture are interrelated, language cannot be taught without culture, but there are many ways of co-teaching language and culture. One of them is role play. This paper addresses the issue of role play in teaching foreign language and foreign culture. It introduces a step-by-step guide to making up a successful role play and examines role play in preparing learners for intercultural communication.
Introduction
There are different ways of teaching second/foreign language (L2) culture. One of them is a role play. Though the concept of role play is not new, scholars did not find agreement on the definition of the terms. Such words as role play, simulation, drama, and game are sometimes used interchangeably, but, in fact, they illustrate different notions. Some scholars believe that the difference between role play and simulation is in the authenticity of the roles taken by students. Simulation is a situation in which the students play a natural role, i.e. a role that they sometimes have in real life (e.g., buying groceries or booking a hotel). In a role play, the students play a part they do not play in real life (e.g., Prime Minister, Managing Director of a Multinational Company or a famous singer). The other scholars consider role play as one component or element of simulation (Greenblat, 1988; Crookall & Oxford, 1990). Thus, in arole play, participants assign roles which they act out within scenario. In a simulation, emphasis is on the interaction of one role with the other roles, rather than on acting out individual roles. One way, or the other, role play prepares L2 learners for L2 communication in a different social and cultural context.
In this paper, I decided to express my understanding of teaching culture with a role play and I will use the term ãrole playä to determine a teaching technique in which the students are asked to identify with the given familiar or non-familiar roles and to interact with the other role characters within the given sociocultural situation.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Role Play
There have already been some attempts to introduce a guide to making up a role play (Shaw, Corsini, Blake & Mouton, 1980; Milroy, 1982; Livingstone, 1983; Rodriguez & White, 1983; Horner & McGinley, 1990). Scholars suggest different steps and various successions in applying role play in teaching. Based on the empirical evidence, we suggest our step-by-step guide to making a successful role play.
Step 1 - A Situation for a Role Play
To begin with, choose a situation for a role play, keeping in mind students' needs and interests (Livingstone, 1983). Teachers should select role plays that will give the students an opportunity to practice what they have learned. At the same time, we need a role play that interests the students. One way to make sure your role play is interesting is to let the students choose the situation themselves. They might either suggest themes that intrigue them or select a topic from a list of given situations. To find a situation for a role play, write down situations you encounter in your own life, or read a book or watch a movie, because their scenes can provide many different role play situations. You might make up an effective role play based on cultural differences.
Step 2 - Role Play Design
After choosing a context for a role play, the next step is to come up with ideas on how this situation may develop. Students' level of language proficiency should be taken into consideration (Livingstone, 1983). If you feel that your role play requires more profound linguistic competence than the students possess, it would probably be better to simplify it or to leave it until appropriate. On low intermediate and more advanced levels, role plays with problems or conflicts in them work very well because they motivate the characters to talk (Shaw, Corsini, Blake & Mouton, 1980; Horner & McGinley, 1990). To build in these problems let the standard script go wrong. This will generate tension and make the role play more interesting. For example, in a role play situation at the market the participants have conflicting role information. One or two students have their lists of things to buy while another two or three students are salespeople who don't have anything the first group needs, but can offer slightly or absolutely different things.
Step 3 - Linguistic Preparation
Once you have selected a suitable role play, predict the language needed for it. At the beginning level, the language needed is almost completely predictable. The higher the level of students the more difficult it is to prefigure accurately what language students will need, but some prediction is possible anyway (Livingstone, 1983). It is recommended to introduce any new vocabulary before the role play (Sciartilli, 1983).
At the beginning level, you might want to elicit the development of the role play scenario from your students and then enrich it. For example, the situation of the role play is returning an item of clothing back to the store. The teacher asks questions, such as, 'In this situation what will you say to the salesperson?', 'What will the salesperson say?' and writes what the students dictate on the right side of the board. When this is done, on the left side of the board the instructor writes down useful expressions, asking the students, 'Can the customer say it in another way?', 'What else can the salesperson say?' This way of introducing new vocabulary makes the students more confident acting out a role play.
Step 4 - Factual Preparation
This step implies providing the students with concrete information and clear role descriptions so that they could play their roles with confidence. For example, in the situation at a railway station, the person giving the information should have relevant information: the times and destination of the trains, prices of tickets, etc. In a more advanced class and in a more elaborate situation include on a cue card a fictitious name, status, age, personality, and fictitious interests and desires.
Describe each role in a manner that will let the students identify with the characters. Use the second person 'you' rather than the third person 'he' or 'she.' If your role presents a problem, just state the problem without giving any solutions.
At the beginning level cue cards might contain detailed instructions (Byrne, 1983). For example,
Cue Card A:
YOU ARE A TAXI-DRIVER
1. Greet the passenger and ask him where he wants to go.
2. Say the price. Make some comments on the weather. Ask the passenger if he likes this weather.
3. Answer the passenger's question. Boast that your son has won the school swimming competition. Ask if the passenger likes swimming.
Cue Card B:
YOU ARE A PASSENGER IN A TAXI
1. Greet the taxi driver and say where you want to go. Ask what the price will be.
2. Answer the taxi-driver's question and ask what kind of weather he likes.
3. Say that you like swimming a lot and that you learned to swim 10 years ago when you went to Spain with your family.
Step 5 - Assigning the Roles
Some instructors ask for volunteers to act out a role play in front of the class (Matwiejczuk, 1997), though it might be a good idea to plan in advance what roles to assign to which students. At the beginning level the teacher can take one of the roles and act it out as a model. Sometimes, the students have role play exercises for the home task. They learn useful words and expressions, think about what they can say and then act out the role play in the next class.
There can be one or several role play groups. If the whole class represents one role play group, it is necessary to keep some minor roles which can be taken away if there are less people in class than expected (Horner & McGinley, 1990). If the teacher runs out of roles, he/she can assign one role to two students, in which one speaks secret thoughts of the other (Shaw, Corsini, Blake & Mouton, 1980). With several role play groups, when deciding on their composition, both the abilities and the personalities of the students should be taken into consideration. For example, a group consisting only of the shyest students will not be a success. Very often, optimum interaction can be reached by letting the students work in one group with their friends (Horner & McGinley, 1990).
Whether taking any part in the role play or not, the role of the teacher is to be as unobtrusive as possible (Livingstone, 1983). He or she is listening for students' errors making notes. Mistakes noted during the role play will provide the teacher with feedback for further practice and revision. It is recommended that the instructor avoids intervening in a role play with error corrections not to discourage the students.
Step 6 - Follow-up
Once the role play is finished, spend some time on debriefing. This does not mean pointing out and correcting mistakes. After the role play, the students are satisfied with themselves, they feel that they have used their knowledge of the language for something concrete and useful. This feeling of satisfaction will disappear if every mistake is analyzed. It might also make the students less confident and less willing to do the other role plays (Livingstone, 1983).
Follow-up means asking every student's opinion about the role play and welcoming their comments (Milroy, 1982; Horner & McGinley, 1990). The aim is to discuss what has happened in the role play and what they have learned. In addition to group discussion, an evaluation questionnaire can be used.
Teaching Culture
Main Approaches to Teaching Culture
Teaching culture has been an important part of foreign language instruction for decades. In the comprehensive literature review, Sysoyev (2001a) indicates that there exist many approaches to teaching foreign culture: lingvostranovedenie (teaching language through culture and teaching culture through language) (Vereshchagin, Kostomarov, 1990; Tomakhin, 1996; cited in Sysoyev, 2001a), Cultural Literacy (Hirsch, 1987; cited in Sysoyev, 2001a), ethnographic approach (Hymes, 1962, 1972, 1974; Byram, 1986, 1989; Byram, & Fleming, 1998; Korochkina, 2000; cited in Sysoyev, 2001a), sociocultural approach (Saphonova, 1991, 1992, 1996; cited in Sysoyev, 2001a). Sysoyev argues that although all of these approaches aim to integrate teaching language and culture, they differ in goals, objectives, and context of application.
Sociocultural approach is the most recent approach currently applied in L2 teaching in Russia. Its major objective is to prepare learners for intercultural communication and dialogue of cultures. In their research, Sysoyev (2001 a,b) and Savignon & Sysoyev (In press) provide empirical evidence that sociocultural strategies can be seen as one of the efficient ways of achieving learners' sociocultural competence within L2 communicative competence (Savignon, 1997), and, thus, preparing them for intercultural communication. Role play can be seen as one of the instructional techniques of sociocultural strategy training. Much will depend on the way L2 culture is incorporated in the role play.
Incorporating Teaching Culture into Role Play
Tomalin and Stempleski (1993) suggest four role play activities which deal with cultural products and examine cultural behavior and patterns of communication. For example, in one of these role plays, students dramatize an incident that happened to them and caused cross-cultural misunderstanding. In a long run, it will enable them to develop communicative strategies to overcome similar problems in real L2 communication. However, Byram and Felming (1998) warn us about the danger of teaching L2 culture via role play. They argue that learners may form false stereotypes and generalizations, which, in their turn, will result in cross-cultural misunderstanding and cultural conflicts. Therefore, there should be developed activities that would examine our beliefs as well as the reasons why we have them. For example, activities dealing with culture shock, cultural differences and perceptions of representatives of L2 societies.
One such role play set was introduced by Smith and Otero (1977). In their role plays, two Americans are traveling through imaginary countries, each role play set represents one of the following lands: Crony, Ord, Fondi, Dandi or Lindi. The two Americans go out on their own to explore what the given land is like. After some time, they want to go back to their hotel, but they have walked far from it and, unfortunately, lost their money. They need enough money for bus fare back to their hotel. They decide to ask two natives for help. The two students, who take on the roles of native citizens, should behave as they think real citizens would behave. In these imaginary lands, there are certain ways of doing things, for example, when Fondis agree with something, they frown and look down. When they disagree, they smile and nod their heads. Dandis stand 12 inches or closer to people when talking to them. Cronies would not listen to a male if he asks for a favor, because in their society everything important is decided by females, males talk only of unimportant things.The students who play Americans have to figure out a proper way to ask money from the natives. If they fail to understand how the things are done in these lands, the natives will not give or loan them the money. These role plays examine nonverbal communication issues and make the students think about the importance of non-verbal communication.
Thus, if introduced carefully, role playing can be very effective for experiencing cultural principles and cultural awareness because it gives an opportunity to be emotionally involved in cross-cultural learning and reflect upon cultural differences. The students learn to examine their perceptions and treat representatives of other cultures with empathy.
Conclusion
In this paper I addressed the issue of using role play as one of the ways of co-teaching a foreign language and L2 culture. I suggested a six-stage step-by-step guide to applying role play in L2 teaching and using role play in preparing learners for intercultural communication.
Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Professor Pavel V. Sysoyev for his help and inspiration while working on this project.
Research for this paper was supported in part by the Junior Faculty Development Program, which is funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, under authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961 as amended, and administered by the American Council for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS. The opinions expressed herein are the author's own and do not necessarily express the views of either ECA or the American Councils.
References
·         Byram, M., & Fleming, M., (Eds.). (1998). Language learning in intercultural perspective: Approaches through drama and ethnography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
·         Byrne, D. (1983). Cuecards. In S. Holden (Ed.), Second selections from modern English teacher (pp. 90-91). Harlow: Longman.
·         Crookall, D., & Oxford, R. L. (1990). Linking language learning and simulation/gaming. In D. Crookall & R.L. Oxford (Eds.), Simulation, gaming and language learning (pp. 3-24). New York: Newbury House Publishers.
·         Greenblat, C. (1988). Designing games and simulations: an illustrated handbook. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications.
·         Horner, D., & McGinley, K. (1990). Running simulation/games: A step-by-step guide. In D. Crookall & R. Oxford (Eds.), Simulation, gaming and language learning (pp. 33-45). New York: Newbury House Publishers.
·         Livingstone, C. (1983). Role play in language learning. Harlow: Longman.
·         Milroy, E. (1982). Role-play: a practical guide. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.
·         Rodriguez, R. J., & White, R. N. (1983). From role play to the real world. In J.W.Oller & P. Richard-Amato (Eds.), Methods that work: a smorgasbord of ideas for language teachers (pp. 246-255). Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers, Inc.
·         Savignon, S. Communicative competence: Theory and practice. Second edition. N.Y.: McGraw Hill.
·         Savignon, S., & Sysoyev, P. (In Press). Sociocultural strategies for a Dialogue of Cultures. The Modern Language Journal, 86 (4).
·         Sciartilli, G. (1983). Canovaccio: cue cards for role-playing. In S. Holden (Ed.), Second selections from modern English teacher (pp. 95-97). Harlow: Longman.
·         Shaw, M.E., Corsini, R.J., Blake, R.R., & Mouton, J.S. (1980). Role playing: A practical manual for group facilitators. San Diego, CA: University Associates, Inc.
·         Sysoyev, P.V. (2001a). Cultural identity in the context of dialogue of cultures. Tambov: Tambov State University.
·         Sysoyev, P.V. (2001b). Language and culture: Looking for a new dimension in teaching foreign language culture. Foreign Languages at School Journal, 4, 17-24.
·         Sysoyev, P.V. (Ed.). (2002). Identity, Culture, and Language Teaching. Iowa City, IA: Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies.
·         Tomalin, B., & Stempleski, S. (1993). Cultural awareness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VIII, No. 7, July 2002
http://iteslj.org/
http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Kodotchigova-RolePlay.html