Lead with Culture and Language Will Follow

Culture is the cornerstone of the world language classroom – no matter what the age of the learners. This is especially true for our early language learners because culture gives them a context for learning the language. Language is the tool to help children communicate with people who might be different from them. But beyond language, cultural understandings help us with the nuances of behavior and language.  And perhaps more importantly, culture is the hook to draw in learners and keep them interested.

Some cultural points will be lost on some of our earliest learners, but it is nonetheless an important component – if not, the most important component of our early language classes. There’s a variety of things we can use to make culture real for our students. The best way is to use as many authentic resources as possible. Authentic resources could be traditional texts, videos, and music, but we need to consider other things like folk art, utilitarian objects, fine art, tickets, brochures, ads, memes, tweets, websites, and pictures.


Follow my self-paced e-course on Culture in the World Language Classroom, “Keeping Culture Front and Center.” 

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While it is universally accepted that culture should be a large part of a world language course, the way it is taught remains a sticky issue. Some teachers tack on a culture as an afterthought or a bonus, while others fear their students couldn’t understand it if presented at their proficiency levels, so opt to teach it in English!

In this interactive workshop, we affirm that culture is the “true content” of the world language course and it lies at the heart of the standards-based approach to language education. Rather than tacking on culture at the end of a unit – or worse, teaching cultural information in English – participants will learn how to use culture as the base of a unit.

Topics Addressed:

  • Culture is not an add-on, but rather the centerpiece of the language class.
  • Start with culture and language learning will follow.
  • Culture can be taught in the target language – no matter what level the students.

How this course will help you in your classroom:

  • Students gain a richer understanding of the target culture.
  • Students learn the difference between superficial culture and deep culture.
  • Teachers will learn how to use culture to drive language instruction.
  • Teachers will learn how to use target language for instruction about culture.