Cultural competence when learning languages
Nowadays, language simply cannot be separated from the additional components it brings to the classroom. One of those components is culture. In order to develop the cultural competence in students, culture should be present when possible in our lessons to help students inquire, learn and to be curious about the variety of different cultures in the world.
By Andrea Romero, secondary Spanish Language Acquisition teacher
Although culture is more likely to be immediately linked to arts and music rather than to languages, we must not forget that all that is linked back to language.
In the first period of this school year, the students also learned a little about the countries were Spanish is spoken. Of course, not only in Spain, but in plenty of other places that not many people are completely aware of. Students worked with a map and located the different countries and capital cities. At the same time, they were asked to inquire some more with some questions such as:
- How many people in the world speak Spanish?
- In how many countries is Spanish spoken?
- Where is Spanish in the ranking position of the most spoken languages in the world?
By answering these questions, students discovered how many other cultures speak, live and use Spanish in the world and they were surprised there were so many countries. Also, they realised what the current impact is of this language and why it should be a good idea to learn it.
Close to Halloween celebrations, I decided to show students another way of celebrating it and also, all that it comes with that festivity: included food, music, traditions etc.
For my surprise, students actually knew a lot about Dia de los Muertos in México, how was that possible? Do you know how? Through the movie: “Coco”. I was impressed with the power of a movie to cross borders and transmit culture in an entertaining way.
After watching the short video about the traditions for “Dia de los Muertos”, students reflected on how important traditions are for every culture and how much we can learn from each other.
Then to add some more fun to the class, students used their creativity to color their own “ Katrinas” which they enjoyed a lot.
We are working on trying to include culture more often in our lessons, I hope we can continue doing it so and help students be more interested in learning languages and all that comes with it.