Use an intercultural approach

Ambassador Project (Reflection and Presentation). During the wrap up at the end of the semester or ambassador unit give students a graphic organizer with space for each of the countries studied by the students. Each student presents on his/her country and those listening fill in the information they hear. For example: use of natural resources, clothing, breakfast foods and habits, etc. Any blank spaces can be filled in by interviewing the student responsible for that country and asking questions. This gives students practice listening and speaking in an authentic situation. Finally, students can work in pairs to describe their country’s Ps and compare them (obviously related to L and R).

Sample Activity

Reverse Travel Tips. Students will read travel information about the U.S. that is produced by the target culture and categorize the travel tips as those that specific for the target culture and which those that could also apply to U.S. tourists. Students will then examine the cultural-specific tips and discuss why they exist (e.g. you don’t need to order water in U.S. restaurants, it is brought to you automatically. This tip may mean that in other cultures, water is not always brought without a request). Students will also analyze the tone of the article and the attitude(s) it suggests toward the U.S. as well as the possible values of the target culture.

Sample Activity

Selfies. Begin the lesson activating prior knowledge about our cultural practice of selfies. Ask students to reflect on when they take selfies, with whom, how they share them, etc. Then, transition to selfies from the past, or self-portraits, introduce students to different artist’s self-portraits that are posted around the room like a gallery.  Discuss features such as colors (vibrant/muted), lines (thick/fine), and light (dark/illuminated). Other artistic styles can be introduced such as tenebrism and compared to the use of filters on modern selfies. Encourage students to focus on our culture’s selfies to help make a connection to selfies from the past. Ask students to circulate the gallery analyzing each piece of artwork and inventing a possible title for the piece. Use the attached worksheet to guide the gallery walk.

Extension idea: Students invent the “selfie” of someone from the L2 context (e.g. draw or paint a selfie of Kahlo)

Sample Activity

Multiple Angles. Describe a situation that displays cultural differences from different perspectives. For example: a man compliments a woman walking on the street. The man might be thinking he is boosting her ego and being thoughtful since he’s taken the time from his busy day to compliment her. From her point of view his comment amounts to harassment because he has focused on her looks and assumes she cares about his opinion.  How would each person in the scenario react if they were in one TL country versus another? If they were in their own country?