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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Workshop

Rooted in Culture

This session looks at the ways teachers can investigate cultural products and practices with their students and how this will help the students develop a deeper sense of the cultural perspective.

I think the fruits of exploring [the appropriate ways to interact with native speakers] helps to lead the individual not only to learn more about the target language and its culture, but, through comparisons and reflection and introspection, to discover more about one’s own language and one’s own culture.

— Alvino Fantini, School for International Training, Brattleboro, Vermont

Learning Goals

What is the importance of integrating culture into the study of a foreign language? In this session, you’ll review relevant research, observe video discussions and classroom examples, and do a culminating activity on integrating culture into your lessons. At the end of this session, you will better understand how to:

  • use the Standards framework of products, practices, and perspectives to analyze culture in the context of the foreign language;
  • help students begin to think about cultural perspectives in both the target culture and their own culture; and
  • integrate the teaching of cultural concepts into the context of foreign language instruction

Unit Glossary

intercultural competence
Intercultural competence refers to the ability of an individual to move beyond his or her own language, culture, and world view and interact effectively with members of another culture.

Knowledge, Attitude, Skill, Awareness (KASA)
Knowledge, Attitude, Skill, and Awareness (KASA), created by applied linguistics professor Alvino Fantini, are the categories by which intercultural competence is often analyzed. Knowledge refers to a person’s understanding of the target language and culture. Attitude is a person’s willingness to try to understand and adapt to the expected norms of the target culture. Skill refers to the behaviors of a person when he or she interacts in the target culture. Awareness refers to an understanding of your own cultural values, the cultural values of the target culture, and the similarities and differences between them. A person’s awareness is enhanced by his or her knowledge, attitudes, and skills, and can also lead to the development of deeper knowledge, attitudes, and skills.


Check out these additional resources to explore the topic further.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. National Standards in Foreign Language Education Collaborative Project. Yonkers, NY: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 1999. (To purchase the Standards document, go to or call 1-800-627-0629.)

Damen, Louise. Culture Learning: The Fifth Dimension in the Language Classroom. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1987.

Dodd, Carley H. Dynamics of Intercultural Communication. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Fantini, Alvino E. “A Central Concern: Developing Intercultural Competence.” In About Our Institution, edited by Alvino E. Fantini, 25-42. SIT Occasional Papers Series. Brattleboro, VT: The School for International Training, 2000.

Fantini, Alvino E. “Comparisons: Towards the Development of Intercultural Competence.” In Foreign Language Standards: Linking Research, Theories, and Practices, edited by June K. Phillips, 165-218. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Co., 1999.

Fantini, Alvino E. “Language: Its Cultural and Intercultural Dimensions.” In New Ways in Teaching Culture, edited by Alvino E. Fantini, 3-15. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., 1995.

Fantini, Alvino E. “Teacher Assessment.” In New Ways in Teacher Education, edited by Donald Freeman and Steve Cornwell, 43-55. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., 1993.

Fantini, Alvino E., and Beatriz C. Fantini. “Artifacts, Sociofacts, Mentifacts: A Sociocultural Framework.” In New Ways in Teaching Culture, edited by Alvino E. Fantini and Beatriz C. Fantini, 57-59. Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., 1995. (This text is available in the Before You Watch section.)

Fantini, Alvino E. Language Acquisition of a Bilingual Child. Avon, England: Multilingual Matters, 1985. Also La adquisición de lenguaje en un niño bilingüe. Barcelona, Spain: Editorial Herder, 1982.

Fantini, Alvino E., et al. Beyond the Language Classroom: A Guide for Teachers. Brattleboro, VT: The Experiment Press, 1984.

Galloway, Vicki. “Giving Dimension to Mappaemundi: The Matter of Perspective.” In Teaching Cultures of the Hispanic World: Products and Practices in Perspective, edited by Vicki Galloway, 3-38. Mason, OH: Thomson Learning Custom Publishing, 2001. (This text is available in the Before You Watch section.)

Hall, Edward. Beyond Culture. New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1977.

Kohls, L. Robert, and John M. Knight. Developing Intercultural Awareness. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1994.

Lange, Dale L. “Planning for and Using the New National Culture Standards.” In Foreign Language Standards: Linking Research, Theories, and Practices, edited by June K. Phillips, 57-120. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Co., 1999.

Lusting, Myron W., and Jolene Koester. Intercultural Competence. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

Moran, Patrick R. Teaching Culture. Boston: Heinle and Heinle, 2001.

Samovar, Larry A., and Richard E. Porter. Communication Between Cultures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1991.

Samovar, Larry A., and Richard E. Porter. Intercultural Communication: A Reader. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1991.

Stempleski, Tomalin, and Susan Stempleski. Cultural Awareness. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Library Videos Chart

The following lessons from Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices are listed in the order in which they appear in the “Rooted in Culture” video:

Lesson Title Instructor Language Grade Level
Happy New Year! Leslie Birkland Japanese 9-11
Communicating About Sports Jie Gao Chinese 6
Politics of Art Lori Langer de Ramirez Spanish 12
Performing With Confidence Yvette Heno French 10-12
Routes to Culture Pablo Muirhead Spanish 9-10
Daily Routines Margaret Dyer Japanese 5
Holidays and Seasons Margita Haberlen German 3
A Cajun Folktale and Zydeco Paris Granville French 8
Hearing Authentic Voices Davita Alston Spanish 8
Interpreting La Belle et la Bête Michel Pasquier French 11
U.S. and Italian Homes Marylee DiGennaro Italian 9



If you are taking this workshop for credit or professional development, submit the following assignments for session 5: Rooted in Culture.

  1. Examine the Research
    Read the articles, then submit your written responses to the Reading Questions.
  2. Examine the Topic
    Complete the interactive activity, then write a brief summary of what you learned from the activity.
  3. Put It Into Practice
    Complete one or both of the activities, then submit your thematic unit that integrates cultural content with language instruction and/or five entries from your cultural exploration journal.
  4. Action Research Project
    Submit your completed action research project on any one of the eight session topics.
  5. Reflect on Your Learning
    Review your notes, then write a summary of what you have learned and how you plan to apply it in your classroom.