Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Workshop
View & Analyze the Video
In “Rooted in Culture,” Professor Alvino Fantini from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, discusses the importance of teaching culture and being sensitive to native cultures, perspectives, and behaviors when interacting with speakers of the target language. Professor Fantini also joins a round-table discussion on ways of integrating culture into a foreign language curriculum and the challenge of helping students gain a cultural perspective. The discussion is moderated by University of Pittsburgh professor Richard Donato and includes teachers Leslie Birkland of Kirkland, Washington, and Lori Langer de Ramirez of New Hyde Park, New York. The video also features excerpts from Ms. Birkland’s and Ms. Langer de Ramirez’s classes, as well as other classes across different grade levels and languages.* The video addresses the following questions:
- How do teachers integrate culture into instruction?
- How do products and practices lead to perspectives?
- How do teachers build intercultural competence?
*The classroom excerpts featured in this video are from the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 video library. To learn more about the featured lessons, go to the Library Videos Chart.
Watch the Video
1. How do teachers integrate culture into instruction?
- Consider your school calendar. What cultural events might you build into the regular curriculum and explore, as Ms. Birkland does with the Japanese New Year?
- How might a teacher determine whether a current event should be treated briefly or as the focal point for a unit?
- How can teachers enhance their own understanding about a cultural topic? What might you do if questions about a cultural topic come up that you are unable to answer?
- What are the limitations of cultural notes or sidebars in textbooks or other resources? Are there ways of using these effectively? If so, how? If not, why not? What might you do if the information presented contradicts your own experience, such as the text Ms. Langer de Ramirez described about teens going on dates with chaperones?
- Consider your students’ experiences. How could you tap into their cultural experiences outside of the classroom as a starting point for integrating culture into instruction?
2. How do products and practices lead to perspectives?
- Why is it easier to focus on products and practices before perspectives?
- How might a teacher decide whether to use English when teaching about culture?
- How can teachers address any stereotypes that students have about the target culture? How might teachers lead students to further explore new cultures with an awareness of the issue of stereotypes?
- What is the value of exploring perspectives? What are the challenges of exploring perspectives?
3. How do teachers build intercultural competence?
- How do teachers acquire the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and awareness needed for intercultural competence? How do they develop the skills needed to foster intercultural competence in their students?
- What resources could teachers use, beyond the textbook, to build intercultural competencies for themselves and their students?
- When comparing cultures, what can teachers do to help avoid making the target culture seem exotic or strange?
- In what ways is culture a lifelong learning task for teachers? For students?
5.1 Before you Watch
To begin this workshop session, you will tap your prior knowledge and experience and then read current research on teaching culture in foreign language classes.
Overview 0 Overview
This six-minute video introduces you to the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 Workshop series and provides you with a virtual tour of the Web guide. Watch the video to familiarize yourself with what you will be doing as a participant in the workshop, or to launch a study group using the workshop.
workshop 1 Meaningful Interpretation
This session looks at how the interpretation of texts (including documents, paintings, movies, audio recordings, and more) can go beyond literal comprehension and tap into students' background knowledge while fostering critical-thinking skills.
workshop 2 Person to Person
Focusing on interpersonal communication, session participants discuss how students use language to make themselves understood and to understand others. The session also explores how different teaching approaches encourage or discourage meaningful student interaction.
workshop 3 Delivering the Message
Looking at the presentational mode of communication, this session shows how students and teachers consider a variety of audiences as they create and deliver written presentations.
workshop 4 Subjects Matter
Foreign language teachers promote language learning within the context of other curriculum areas, such as geography, science, and language arts. A look at the research helps teachers address the balance between grammatical form and content in the language classroom.
workshop 5 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.
workshop 6 Valuing Diversity in Learners
Students come to the language classroom with a range of literacy and language skills, as well as varying cultural backgrounds and experiences. This session looks at how teachers can help students individually progress, as well as use students' unique skills to contribute to the growth of the class as a whole.
workshop 7 Planning for Assessment
Assessment can be embedded in relevant, meaningful, and authentic performance tasks throughout the year, as well as in culminating activities. The session also addresses the value of ongoing feedback to learners.