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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Sage Advice question: Technology and foreign language/culture study

Sage Advice question: Technology and foreign language/culture study

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43 Replies 2449 Views
Readers of Edutopia.org will recall that we have a regular feature called, "Sage Advice." This is where we pose a question to the greater Edutopia community and post some of the best ones on the site. The newest question is this: "How do you bring global cultures and foreign languages into your classroom?" Please feel free to share any and all ideas. These will reprinted on the Edutopia.org site. Thanks in advance! We look forward to hearing from you.

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Andrea's picture

I create a global awareness with my fifth graders by letting them communicate with the child that I sponsor through Compassion International. It helps them to think outside of their own little bubble and realize that there are paope their age dealing with some of the same school issues on the other side of the world but that also have to deal with just getting clean water. We write letters back and forth and recycle all year long and at the end of this past year, they decided to donate the money to my child in Kenya. They loved it!

Andrea's picture

I sponsor a little girl through Compassion International and my fifth graders read her letters and write to her. It helps them to get out of their bubbles and realize that she struggles with Math and English like they do but that she also has to worry about where and how to get clean water. We recycle all year long adn at the end of this past year they decided to donate the money to her in Kenya. Great continuous event that lasted all year long and when I got a letter last week, my students from last year begged to read it!!

G P Witteveen's picture
G P Witteveen
outreach educator & multimedia producer

Int'l education, including interpersonal cues (intercultural communication competence), is as practical as math and science. So follow the same "3 R's" or relevance, relationship and rigor: personalize a different language/culture with class visitors (or exchange students), seek tangents to make comparative observations of home country to other society, for rigor try the rich resources added to http://outreachworld.org - a project of the 130 National Resource Centers for Area Studies and Languages.

Darleen Saunders's picture

To bring other cultures and languages into the class, try getting out of the classroom. Learning can take place anywhere anytime. We have a delightful multicultural country just outside those doors. I finally saw the light and it was not fluorescent.

It all started when I enrolled my daughter in an International program and realized, that other than learning an additional language there was no international learning taking place. So she enrolled in a international boarding school where she mostly learned that from other students, but again not in the classroom.

One of the students then asked her to come home with her on a break--to China. So off she went for a three week home stay. That was the "aha" moment when we realized that to learn about other cultures and languages one could actually go there.

So how is she continuing her American A-G education? She travels with other American high school students who are doing the same thing in a program for self learners who enroll in college early and bypass high school. She may also participate in an international exchange program. These programs are not expensive, in fact they are way less than you'd expect as there is no overhead of classrooms to maintain.

Now I know that every student cannot do this but honestly we need to break our students free from those classrooms and think outside the box. The "classroom box" is the problem. Get out the door!

Penelope Vos's picture
Penelope Vos
Primary teacher from Australia, author of "Talking to the Whole Wide World"

13 years ago, my school decided that the foreign language our kids had time to master was Esperanto, and they picked me to learn and teach it.
(Not that I had ever mastered any other foreign language!)

Even with the dodgy resources I had at the time, it was great! I had kids staying after school to skype with Swiss kids in Esperanto after about 20 hours of instruction, keen to learn more so they could say more.

There are only a couple of million people in the world who speak the language but they are they are spread over 100 countries, and interested in intercultural communication, so it is pretty easy to find suitable partner-schools in any country you choose.

Esperanto gives kids a chance to be confidently bilingual and to make intercultural relationships, which make other foreign languages personal to them. They can learn a third language very much quicker as a result of the skills, linguistic understanding, confidence and motivation they gather on the way.

I found that it was motivating to the students that their teacher was learning with them so, after 10 years of teaching this way, I started developing a program to empower other teachers to learn on the job.

Any elementary teacher can use "Talking to the Whole Wide World" to teach Esperanto to fluency without studying beforehand. The book has a CD in the back to model the pronunciation and the songs and poems. There are 28 absolutely constant sound-symbol combinations (mostly familiar to English-speakers)and the emphasis is always on the second-last syllable, so a bit of demonstration goes a long way. There is also on-line support through the website for teachers to ask questions and share experiences.

It would be fun to welcome some US teachers to the community.

Penelope Vos's picture
Penelope Vos
Primary teacher from Australia, author of "Talking to the Whole Wide World"

Sorry, I didn't realize that the first posting did go through after registration!

Isabel Castro's picture
Isabel Castro
Spanish/Elementary/Library Media

I use my students, many of which come from other cultures and speak foreign languages. For example, in a science lesson about the colors of stars, students taught each other the names of colors in Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, Italian, etc. In a Spanish lesson about the "quinceanera", a student brought in pictures of his own coming of age celebration in the Sikh religion.

Isabel Castro's picture
Isabel Castro
Spanish/Elementary/Library Media

I use my students, many of whom come from other cultures and speak foreign languages. For example, in a science lesson about the color of stars, students taught each other the names of colors in Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, Italian, etc. In a Spanish lesson about the "quinceanera", a student brought in pictures of his own coming of age celebration in the Sikh religion.

Joanne Ashe's picture
Joanne Ashe
Executive Director of Journeys in Film~Educating for Global Understanding

Over 500 Middle and High School teachers have enthusiastically used Journeys in Film to bring the world into the classroom, using foreign language films from around the world with corresponding standards-based curricula, developed by Journeys' top-rated educators for middle and high school students.

Journeys' curricular materials provide innovative No Child Left Behind standards-based lessons that foster deeper learning with real-life connections at the familial, community, national and international levels. Journeys' curricula build skills in core academics and provides comprehensive educational experiences through lessons across a spectrum of subjects - math, science, social studies, arts, culture, language arts, and critical thinking. Students learn about their peers around the world, often yielding real-life connections. www.Journeysinfilm.org

Chris Baer's picture
Chris Baer
9-12 photography & graphics teacher from Oak Bluffs, MA
Blogger 2014

This fall I arranged for my four high school photography classes to be paired with penpal classes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. For several months we made captioned photographs of our daily lives under themes like "Morning Routines" "Mealtime" "Where I Live" "The Market" and "After-School Activities" and then periodically exchanged and discussed them through a forum provided by the nonprofit educational network iEARN.org . The discussions were fascinating and eye-opening.

The program culminated on 10 November, a randomly chosen day on which we arranged for students in more than thirty countries in six continents to post captioned photographs of their lives on that (mostly ordinary) day, from the moment they woke up until they went to bed. The 1000+ photos of this typical day poured in over several weeks from all corners of the globe, from Argentina to Zambia, and the incredibly diverse results were amazing to pore over.

We plan to hold another round of exchanges and another special day in late March.

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