Teach Positive Attitude Toward Another Culture, Not Hate

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.)

Modern Language Culture -Like it

Many modern language teachers love to return to the target language country. They enjoy the food. They delight in walking the streets to soak up the culture.  Notice the verbs in the previous three statements. They are not factual verbs but they are emotionally positive verbs.

Modern language teachers want their students to like the target language country. However, often the teachers’ presentations do not contribute to a positive feeling about the target language country. When students learn the factual culture such as the country’s name, its location, its flag, its unit of money, its geography, and the famous places in the country these facts do not help the students feel positively about the culture.

Modern language teachers can connect their students to real people from the culture. These teachers go beyond having their students read about the people in their textbook. They have their student talk with a native speaker about common themes such as weekends, sports, food, clothing, housing. They can have a native speaker physically come in the class or they can use a program like Skype to virutally bring a person in. Teachers may show a picture of a person and then have that person phone in.

A native speaker helps students to move from learning  facts about a country to actually meeting someone from the country. Students begin to like that country.

How do you help your students like the modern language culture?

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity. At the same location, I have 30+ activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking

My Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment and a general Formative Assessment book are available at http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/harry_grover_tuttle/

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities and Modern Language Proficiciency: Can-Do Strategies ebooks are available at http://bit.ly/tsmash