Cultural interaction!

I’m not sure if I’ve talked about it in detail or not, but I’m currently working on my Master’s through Michigan State. Currently I’m taking a class on teaching culture in the language classroom. We’ve covered some challenging concepts, and I’ve had to think a lot about the preconceived notions I have of people that I never even noticed before, it’s been an eye opening experience for sure.

The most interesting things we’ve done thus far in the course, though, is create cultural activities for our classroom. We’ve based our activities on the activities found in THIS book. It’s a little pricey, but there are SO MANY GREAT ACTIVITIES! One of the best things about the book is that all of the activities are applicable to any language!

The first activity that I designed was meant to meet the Investigate portion of the intercultural I Can statements from NCSSFL-ACTFL. In that activity, students listened to one of my friends from Costa Rica describe some of his childhood games, as well as read a facebook conversation between him and me. They then listed the games that he talked about, investigated one of the games on their own, and drew on comparisons to games that they have played in their childhood. That activity definitely needs some more fleshing out, but it is definitely on the right track.

My second, and most recent activity design focuses on the Interact portion of the I Can statements, specifically the “language” subsection. This part has always tripped me up when assessing students. I had a gross misunderstanding of what “interact in a culturally appropriate way” meant. Then it dawned on me… we use rejoinders all the time in class. Those are culturally appropriate phrases! I can get students to interact in a culturally appropriate way!

Now, I use rejoinders almost every day. I try to work them into story-asking, readings, PQA, I don’t know why I had never thought of doing it during MovieTalk! Or at least… not the way that I did it for this cultural activity.

This could be done with anything in a CI classroom I suppose, but it added some novelty and some great reasons to get repetitions of phrases.

Each student gets three rejoinders (they could be a variation of however many you’d like, I had enough different ones to give each student three different rejoinder cards).

Teacher makes a statement, clarifies, circles, whatever you do to make sure students KNOW what you just said.

Teacher asks students to look at their rejoinders and find an appropriate phrase to say after the statement the teacher just made. Take a look at a few of the options students give you. Really though, take a poor choice to show students that not all rejoinders fit everywhere.

For example, I had made the statement “The man falls down the stairs” and asked students an appropriate response, a few of the suggestions were “How funny” “Poor thing” then I took “Not worth it” as well. I restated the statement and asked students to vote on what they thought was the most appropriate rejoinder. I mentioned that “no vale la pena” does not make sense there, and that they understood my statement because they knew that wasn’t the appropriate response.

Then I began reviewing past statements. I made a few statements and asked what an appropriate response would be. I think that this was giving them repetition of the language, AND it was showing me their comprehension.

What I would change next time I do this though, is I would personalize the statements I make more, because I think it could be really funny, and give extra repetition of language.

My next step is to review the movie talk that we did with still images and a short reading. Students will then WRITE in the rejoinders where appropriate.

Finally I’ll do a short speaking re-tell of the video where students are in groups of three, one student retells the story with help from images, another student attempts to use rejoinders while their partner re-tells, and then the third student makes a tally for each rejoinder the second student uses.

My assessment for this is NOT necessarily language production. I WANT the student doing the re-tell to do well, but what I am mostly aiming for is for students to begin TRYING to use culturally appropriate phrases at appropriate times.

2 thoughts on “Cultural interaction!

    1. If you go to Grant Boulanger’s website he has some google drive documents with the list of rejoinders 🙂


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