“Culture is an abstraction; it cannot actually be seen or touched…. We see people acting in agreed-upon ways in the face of similar situations…we notice people moving their bodies in certain ways – making choices in their lives about where to live, what to eat, how to learn, how to work and love – in response to similar events and experiences, and say: “oh, these people belong to the same culture”. (H. Ned Seeyle)
Our recent #langchat inspired me to blog about something which I am truly passionate, using authentic texts in the world language classroom. We discussed the definition of culture and how to teach it. Because culture is fluid and amorphous, it is difficult to define. The website http://coerll.utexas.edu/methods/modules/culture/ expands upon culture as a skill.
- The ability to perceive and recognize cultural differences.
- The ability to accept cultural differences.
- The ability to appreciate and value cultural differences.
Authentic texts are an alternative to outdated textbooks. As I said in my tweet: “RT @lelises: @profeguerita exactly! We don’t need a textbook when we have the world! TL exists everywhere. Web gives easy access. #langchat”
There is not just one way of saying something, and native speakers do not always answer in complete sentences. Similarly, we do not want our students to be automatons. The self-discovery process of language acquisition involved in using authentic texts gives learners a clear picture on varied ways of communicating the same idea.
Authentic texts often provide more than is necessary, therefore differentiating. This is especially important in classes of varied learners, a familiar portrait of today’s language classrooms.
Many teachers struggle with ways to expose novice learners to authentic texts. If you scaffold appropriately, novice learners can be exposed to a variety of materials.
Here are some that I have used in my classroom:
Greetings and leave takings from films or TV
Class schedules and school websites
Photos Photos Photos!!!
Map guides of theme parks and cities
Pop culture websites like MTV espana
Transportation websites, like TGV websites