This summer I have had the privilege of teaching 30 students from Ecuador in the GO program here at Kansas State University. The students are teachers of English from Ecuador on behalf of the Ecuadorian government to improve their teaching skills for their English program back home. They have been a pleasure to teach and have taught me tons about their culture, educational system, and their lives back home.
In fact, if you have access to those of another culture, it is a great learning experience. I offer here to you, three strategies you may employ to enhance student understanding of other cultures. Try them out and see if they work for you.
1. Contact your local university or program for cultural opportunities.
While it may seem that K-State is miles away, we really are not. We are often involved with programs with other cultures and could provide access to these individuals who can answer student questions. This is even more practical with strategy two.
2. Use technology to make access possible.
Through some simple research, it is possible for teachers to start relationships with kids in other parts of the world. This year, my son’s school developed pen pal relationships with kids in China that culminated in a Skype chat with a school and basic questions (that were screened by the teacher) were asked about their village, school, and culture.
3. Embrace your local resources.
There are hidden gems in each town in Kansas. We truly are becoming a multicultural world and there are peoples of different backgrounds amidst us every day. Pay close attention to what is occurring in your town, and make a note when you here an accent or see a different cultural activity going on. You may be able to make a connection that will pay huge dividends.
My experience is not typical, as I have been thrust into teaching my Ecuadorian friends. The payoff has been huge though, as I have material now to share when I talk about teaching another culture.
2 thoughts on “I’m GOing places….”
I’m a big fan of traveling as a student. I’ve spent two summers in Spanish-immersion schools. Because I tested well, I was put in classes far above my vocabulary level. I felt dumb. I had never before felt dumb at school.
I would walk to school every day thinking to myself, “I’m gonna concentrate really hard today. If I concentrate really hard, I’ll understand the material.”
I’d arrive at school. Sit down. Concentrate.
Roughly 20 minutes later I was at full intellectual saturation. I was lost. I started doing all sorts of ADD-ish behaviours I would never allow my students – drawing on my shoes, daydreaming, and more.
I went on trips to teach teachers and to teach English and to teach international students. I probably learned most from my time as a student – and very little of the learning had to do with the actual language.
Agree 100%! I spent a year in Germany and France during my college years – it was an incredible learning experience. The sort of cross-cultural experience described by Brad – even simple things like Google Lit Trips, guest speakers, the right type of video clips – all can add up to create well-rounded students.
Travel Ho indeed!