Teach Culture Later

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6 thoughts on “Teach Culture Later”

  1. Actually, Ben, the culture (like the grammar) is imbedded in the AP test – but it’s a different take on “culture” than the traditional, typical “Bavarians wear Lederhosen, listen to oompah bands and celebrate Oktoberfest”.
    I agree with you about what most people perceive as “culture”. However, there are elements of culture that are taught easily and naturally. When I count on my fingers in German I always start with the thumb – that’s cultural. (BTW, I got good mileage/kilometerage out of “Inglourious Basterds” because many students had seen it and could relate to the “drei Biere” line with the wrong set of fingers up for “drei”; it’s a key plot element.) When a cell phone goes off in class, I can ask if this ever happens in Germany. (It most certainly does.) I can compare social networking in the US with social networking in Germany – some of my students have German Facebook friends. We learn about the Bundesliga and soccer. I don’t have to take time out from the language to “teach culture” because certain things come naturally and others are easily and relevantly incorporated into discussions with students.
    In levels 3 and 4 I do the more traditional cultural items, but by then the students have the language to talk about them in German. They are also ready (readier) to talk about the larger world and not just about themselves.
    N.B.: On the sample test for German, one question asks students to write about online social networking in their country and online social networking in German-speaking countries. At first that seems like a difficult question, but my AP students would have no problem with it because they know about Facebook.de and are online with their German friends. They can easily write to the prompt.
    Last Saturday I was at a workshop with an AP German reader. She said that with the new emphasis, the holistic grading of exams puts the stress on communication and deducts for grammar only when it interferes with communication. Also, they no longer deduct for wrong answers on the multiple choice (interpretive) section; you just don’t get credit for it. The French exam matches the German exam.

  2. I agree with you Ben. There was a great editorial a while back in the FL Annals titles “What’s the Beef?” that had to do with the same topic. I do have a question though, what if you throw in a little bit of culture in stories, and I don’t mean the textbook type of culture but fun culture? Such as “monsters” in the target cultures? Such as the chupacabra or, as I learned about recently, in Argentina they have the Nahuelito. This is “culture” that I think students would find entertaining and these creatures could find themselves in many classroom stories.

  3. Much of what I consider cultural education is “stereotype busting”. For example, the majority of my students assume all Spanish speakers eat tacos and enchiladas. The target language can be used to solve the mystery of why (insert name of student/celebrity) can’t find tacos or enchiladas in Spain (or a South American country). This person is dying of hunger because they can’t find tacos or enchiladas. So they go to a restaurant and order tortillas (if they are in Spain), receive omelets, and since they are allergic to eggs ….. Several structures could be used to “ask” such stories.
    And because I rarely have subs who know the language, when I am gone my students watch travel videos for Spanish speaking countries (Bizarre Foods, Sam Brown, etc). I have a standard note-taking template that the students use with prompts that work for any of the videos. They get a few points that count as a quiz as long, as I can tell by what they answered that they really watched.
    Also, as Chris mentioned, the Chupacabra, La Llorona, and others make great continuing characters that students love to use.

  4. Ardythe,
    Would you mind sharing that template? I’d love to see it. I like the idea of using those videos with a sub. I never know what to do with a sub because, like in your case, they never speak the language.

  5. Here is the template. This one is specific for three different videos and I converted it to a google doc for sharing. I will split the url so that the filter won’t consider it spam. If it does not work let me know.
    https://
    docs.google.com/document/d/1fmv511o4jzyHC4w32NKL36MB1LUjzGmgoQHbc0Wvlpc/edit?hl=en_US

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