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  1. #1
    iannou is offline Key Member
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    Default "Cultural Content"/ limited resources

    Hi,

    A new public school term will begin shortly here in China. I'll be going back to teaching large classes of middle-schoolers (14-15 yr olds). This will be my second term of this sort of teaching. My "brief" or job description is pretty vague in many ways. As a foreign, native English speaking teacher, I'm expected to model correct pronunciation, conduct oral reading practice, and try to encourage students to speak as much as possible. I've come up with some ways of doing this, and I've had varying degrees of success.

    The other part of my brief is to provide some cultural content -- some insight into western culture, and more specifically, North American culture. I worked on this during the term which ended in June, and my success rate was pretty poor. I judge this by the level of interest my students showed in the topics/materials I chose for this portion of the lessons.

    I included "limited resources" in my subject line because I feel it is a real limiting factor. I pop into classrooms fitted with blackboards, desks and chairs. Audio/visual equipment is either not present, or it is not accessible to me. I'm limited to what I can carry around with me, my voice, and whatever I can quickly write on the blackboard. (I am not able to make photocopies in the quantities required for the 200+ students I meet in a day - not even if they share.)

    Some things I have tried:
    • letter sized photos to be passed around in class
    • a small mp3 player with barely adequate speakers
    • currency - notes and coins from Canada
    • writing folk song lyrics on the blackboard


    The photos have to be of something really interesting to the kids (e.g. Canadian schoolkids, pop stars, or NBA players) or they just fall flat. I'd like some suggestions on other universally interesting subjects for middle schoolers. Yes, I've asked them, but their suggestions were very few in number.

    The money was a big hit. If you do this, put the notes (bills) into plastic sleeves to prevent them from being torn to bits. Also, be very clear that nobody will be leaving the classroom unless all the money is returned to the teacher.

    Playing mp3's of any pop song they didn't know was a big flop. Playing Justin Bieber's "Baby" was popular, but seemed like a waste of time since most of them could already sing along with the recording -- just a pleasant way to kill 3 minutes of class time.

    Writing lyrics on the board was a mixed bag. Some kids like to sing, and they are patient enough to sit through this. The majority are not interested in singing and let me know it. Oh, and you'd better be prepared to sing the song. Just teaching the lyrics won't cut it.

    I'm looking for ideas on how I can present the requested cultural component in the classroom environment I work in. How can I present Halloween, Christmas, the Super Bowl, etc (feel free to suggest others) in a way that is engaging for at least a few minutes?

    What other means of presenting my culture am I overlooking? What other topics could be presented under the "culture" heading?

    TIA,
    Ian

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "Cultural Content"/ limited resources

    Could you do large A3 or bigger photocopies as posters? Do you have access to a machine that can make them?

  3. #3
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    Mylanguageclick is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: "Cultural Content"/ limited resources

    What other topics could be presented under the "culture" heading?

    -Flag
    -Aboriginal influences
    -Languages
    -Sport
    -Cuisine
    -Music
    -Customs and Etiquette in Canada (Meeting and greeting, gift giving, dining ettiquete)

    Regards.

  4. #4
    iannou is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: "Cultural Content"/ limited resources

    Quote Originally Posted by Mylanguageclick View Post
    What other topics could be presented under the "culture" heading?

    -Flag
    -Aboriginal influences
    -Languages
    -Sport
    -Cuisine
    -Music
    -Customs and Etiquette in Canada (Meeting and greeting, gift giving, dining ettiquete)

    Regards.
    All good suggestions. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Could you do large A3 or bigger photocopies as posters? Do you have access to a machine that can make them?
    I don't have access to this through the school I work for, but it may be possible to get A3 photocopies at a local shop. This is something I will look into. I'm in a small (by Chinese standards) city and many services are hard to come by here. Having some type of poster would definitely be an improvement in terms of focusing the class's attention.

    It might seem like a fairly obvious solution, and one I should have thought of on my own, but paper is considered to be fairly expensive here. The novelty of having visuals like this for my lessons could generate some additional interest on the part of students regardless of the content. It's not as if the kids have never seen a poster, but seeing one as part of a lesson would be a bit different, I think.

    Thanks,
    Ian

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "Cultural Content"/ limited resources

    And recyclable as they don't leave with it.

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