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Saturday, April 18, 2009

How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (4)


by Ann Abbott

Culture is everything, everything is culture.


We don’t want our students to get tired of being told that every observation they make, problem they put forth, question they ask is “culture.” But it really is. And they really do get tired of whatever it is that we repeat over and over.

That’s why culture should be part of what you’re teaching about, not always the isolated subject of study. Just like content-based instruction shows that we can teach language through an academic content, we can teach culture through the content we focus on in Spanish community service learning course.

In other words, we should strive to move toward teaching culture as thought process, an analytical framework. Darcy Lear has a great strategy for teaching culture to her students: start with anything you take for granted, and then start to peel back the layers of culture. So, something that seems neutral—swimming—suddenly becomes clearly a culturally-imbued practice (or non-practice in my case).


At the University of Illinois we now have a course that is called Introduction to Cultural Analysis. Click to see the course description. This is the first year that it has been taught and is a required course for the revamped Spanish major.


Other posts in this series:
How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (1)
How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (2)
How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (3): Rebrand culture.
How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (5): Analyze your emotions.
How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (6): Wrestle with shadows.
How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (7): Develop skills of observation.
How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (8): An example.

Related posts:
How do you "teach" cultures?
What do we mean by "culture" in the foreign language classroom?

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