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Sage Advice question: Technology and foreign language/culture study

Betty Ray Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

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.

Comments (43)

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Spanish/Elementary/Library Media

I use my students, many of

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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.

Executive Director of Journeys in Film~Educating for Global Understanding

Bringing the World to Your Classroom through Film

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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

9-12 photography & graphics teacher from Oak Bluffs, MA

Comparing daily life through photography

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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.

ePals

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I learned about a great website while I was student teaching that allows students to connect with eachother around the world. The site will allow students to chat via a webcam or they can simply email eachother. The teacher is in control of web addresses and the criteria they are looking for, English speaking, 4th grade, etc. What a cool idea and I can't wait to use it in my own classroom. I believe the website is www.epals.com.

7th Grade japanese instructor

Hiroko

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I am an instructor of Japanese language and Culture in Punahou Case Middle school in Honolulu. We often talk about creation of Global village which is the crossroads for foreign languages and cultures meet. We often establish our curriculum based on our textbook and we introduce our culture according to the textbook units.
I would like to invite your opinion what the best instruction of Foreign language and Culture for middle school students.
I believe 7 and 8th graders are on the way to their exploration of new findings in the global awareness. I wonder if I can reverse my language instruction reversed: from the cultural awareness to the foreign instruction. Language has to be taught as hands-on experience.

I will invite your opinion.

Mahalo, Hiroko

Performing Arts Consultant

Project Idea

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I teach a Saturday school program at a Theater Arts School in upstate NY. We spent a semester (twelve one-hour sessions,) working on a wonderful project that maybe some of the other educators on this site might enjoy. We wrote a one act play entitled "The Chain Letter." Each student (ages ranging from 7 – 12,) researched a country of their choosing from out of a large selection of books that I borrowed from our local library. They created a character based on their research (I supplied them with a list of questions to help them create their character’s biography,) and they wrote a letter to the Global Community, describing their lives and some of the concerns from their part of the world. I then redistributed the letters to a different student, and each character had to write a letter in response to the one they received. After several exchanges, I took the kids’ writing, and pieced it together to form the script for our play. The students were very dedicated to their work and writing. We engaged in a lot of great discussions, some of them very positive, and some of them discussing difficult topics. Nonetheless, it was an amazing experience, and I felt the kids learned a lot!

Teacher of French, levels 1-AP, near Sacramento, CA

Café of the Arts

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As a French teacher, I have a clear obligation to infuse language and culture daily so that each minute of class time is purposefully planned to enhance my students' linguistic and cultural proficiency. I have already done student-created museums at the local Alliance Française (giving them direct access to the local francophone community) and student-created web sites on different aspects of the French-speaking world. My students are also paired with a village in rural Senegal through the Peace Corps World Wise Schools program. They have epals at a school in Belgium as well. I use the internet extensively, as others have mentioned here, to "visit" the francophone world, watch the news, view film clips, and listen to music. Each of these distinct online offerings provides different windows into the perspectives of the more than 30 countries that make up the French-speaking world.

This year, my classes are also hosting a "Café of the Arts." This grant-funded project-based learning event was designed by the students last year. They are working in groups to learn about visual arts, performing arts, cuisine, or music of the French-speaking world. Ultimately, their research will culminate in a free community event of student performances of francophone music and dance, student-hosted film showings of francophone short films, a student art gallery of original works influenced by the work of francophone artists and student-prepared cuisine from around the world.

Nicole Naditz
Teacher, California

Teacher of French, levels 1-AP, near Sacramento, CA

Café of the Arts

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As a French teacher, I have an obligation to ensure that every moment of my class is purposefully designed to infuse language and culture. My students have produced student-created museums at the local Alliance Française on various topics related to the history of the francophone world; they are paired with a village in rural Senegal (West Africa) through the Peace Corps World Wide Schools program (and received a grant to send solar lanterns to the village); they have epals in Belgium; they create their own web pages with research about French-speaking countries; and they "visit" the French-speaking world through the Internet, as others here have mentioned. By watching the news, "touring" sites, "shopping" for products on francophone web sites, listening to music, and watching film clips, the students are exposed to multiple avenues that help them observe the diverse perspectives of the more than 30 countries that make up the French-speaking world.
This year, my students have embarked on a grant-funded, project-based learning event that they designed last year. They are working in self-selected groups to learn about the visual arts, music, dance, film, and cuisine of the French-speaking world. In March they will produce a free community event called the "Café des Arts" during which they will perform francophone songs and dances, exhibit student-created art inspired by their study of francophone artists, host short film showings from the French-speaking world, and serve cuisine from several of the cultures of the French-speaking world. Each act, food item and artwork will be accompanied by an explanation (orally or in print) of the cultural perspectives that shape the "products" they are presenting.

Reflectibe Essays from Students about their (global) experiences

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I volunteer for a DC non-profit called "One World Education" (www.oneworldeducation.org) who publishes student authored reflective essays about their - often global - experiences on their website and then writes curriculum/lesson plans around them and brings them back to Middle- and High-School classrooms. The students' essays are amazing and when other students read them it is quite powerful how they learn from their peer's experience.

Check them out. The student essays can be accessed on the website. They have a fantastic one of a girl in Africa and her experience with AIDS, a girl writing about pollution in China etc. You do have to create an account to access the lesson plans but it is completely free.

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Our city has 5 sister cities. For our holiday music program each grade level was assigned a country to study the culture and music and then sing a song in that language for the concert. The Sister City Association brought in free speakers from each country to share stories and folklore with our students. It was awesome!

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