Just a few short years ago, we created fictitious contexts for our students to produce “cultural products.” Today, we can bring the world to our classroom! Gone are the days of “Why do we have to learn this anyway....??”
Thanks to our ever improving educational technology, here are ACTFL’s 5 C’s Version 2.0:
Gain Knowledge and Understanding of Other Cultures
What better way to see a culture’s products, perspectives and practices,but through an authentic text. There is an abundance of pictures, websites, 360 virtual tours of museums, videos, authentic texts, and eBooks. Tour the streets of Madrid and stand in front of El Prado thanks to Google Earth!
Communicate in Languages Other Than English
Today’s pen pals are key pals. Students can communicate in the target language on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter with their classmates and the rest of the world. Skype joins two classrooms at a moment’s notice by a simple click of the mouse. Travel has also become easier and more accessible. When there's a will, there's a way, and someone can always find some sort of affordable program or travel experience.
Connect with Other Disciplines and Acquire Information
Instead of looking at encyclopedias or checking out books at the local library, teachers can immediately google search or wikipedia other content areas associated with the lesson. One can easily delve further into topics such as famous artists and their masterpieces, listen to top twenty countdowns in Italy, change dollars to euros with currency converters, and relearn France’s history so that you can enlighten students today.
Develop Insight into the Nature of Language and Culture
Easy access to authentic texts encourages our students to compare different aspects of our daily lives to others in foreign countries. A soon to be released documentary “Life in a Day” chronicles, via video, a single day on Earth. People from around the world submitted 80,000 video entries from 192 countries all shot on July 24, 2010. Our modern world makes it easier and more necessary to be able to make comparisons.
Participate in Multilingual Communities at Home & Around the World
"We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams." - Jimmy Carter
Within the US, the explosion of various ethnic communities has opened the door to experiences that can positively influence students’ lives. In our own neighborhoods or surrounding cities we can visit a multitude of restaurants and shops . Music from various countries is played on the airwaves and various tv channels offer programs in many different languages. Every summer multicultural events, festivals, and concerts allow us to experience these communities firsthand and support them. Students can give back by volunteering for organizations that service these ethnic communities. We no longer have to find out about these activities by word of mouth, just search them online.
As an educator we are responsible for guiding our students so that their curiosity leads to independent learning. Take advantage of technology and guide these students to explore the endless opportunities of learning another language and culture.
It's an amazing time to be a world language educator!