We, World Language teachers, have the responsibility to teach our students to feel positive about other cultures. We have to move beyond the “cute, quaint and weird” aspect of culture. When students see the quaint and weird, they feel negative about the other culture. They do not want to associate with such people.
We have to emphasize that the world is a “We”, not an “us vs. them”. We should avoid contrasting the cultures to show how we are different; differences do not lead to positive feelings about another culture. We should constantly be asking our students to identify similarities among the L1 and L2 cultures. In each class, we should show pictures of the L2 people doing daily tasks so our students see the many similarities such as our basic need to eat, play, have families, etc. As they see a picture of people on a street in Quito, they realize that they have many similarities with such people.
Our students come into our L2 class with many negative stereotypes from media. For example, they have the movie perception that Colombia is a drug infested violent place. We have to eliminate negative or even hateful feelings toward another culture.
Let our classes be that place that stops negative feelings and even hate toward other cultures.
(A summary of a presentation that I, Harry Tuttle, did on Culture for NYSAFLT.)