Culture: it’s one of ACTFL’s 5 C’s. Plus, many districts are already adding intercultural standards in their curriculum. How can teach culture without reinforcing stereotypes or just giving our own perspective? Simply show them culture and let them reflect.
I had been using YouTube videos in the classroom for years and was curious to find out if they had an impact on students like I thought. So I chose this for my master’s research study. Of course, I needed data. So, I did a six-week study on the daily YouTube videos and measured 24 students’ attitudes about culture using pre/post rating scales, cultural surveys and journal entries. Long story made short(er):
I also asked an open-ended question: “Tell me about your favorite YouTube video shown so far in this class.” Surprisingly, I had 22 unique answers. Almost every students described a DIFFERENT video.
Moral of the story: The cultural focus made all the difference. We didn’t just watch a video and move on. I didn’t focus on whether they liked the video or not. Not every video was their favorite, but they were able to learn a little bit about Hispanic culture from every video they saw.
Here’s how I got them to reflect:
At the beginning of the year I spent a few minutes in a discussion about culture. We talked about what it was and listed American examples like apple pie, baseball, 4th of July, and for us – Hot brown sandwiches and the Kentucky Derby. They described how there are many versions of American culture that were very different, like hip-hop vs redneck. I told them their job this year was to investigate Hispanic cultures and see if they could better understand sub-cultures by making educated guesses (inferences).
The next day it all started. They had this on their “warm-up” paper.
Each day I showed an authentic video to kick start our lesson. Then they filled out this simple form after watching the video. It was their job to pick one aspect of culture that stood out to them during the video. Then they described what they saw at their proficiency level (my students started with individual words).
Here’s an example.
Unit Topic: Sports
Daily Goal: I can tell which sports I like to play vs. sports I like to watch.
Aspect of Culture Student Reflection (Level 1):
There are so many different cultural aspects in any given video. It was interesting letting students explain what they saw. Even novice mid students could explain culture in phrases like – “Aspecto es economia. Personas con carros feos y pobres.” I realized that even though their language was limited they were still able to gain new understanding about the culture. They needed to know what to look for and the aspects of culture on their paper was just what they needed.
By separating the description and opinion, students starting looking at the culture without a bias. Focusing on fact and evidence, they were willing to try to figure out what they saw and not immediately react with their opinion.
Aspects of culture – it’s one powerful way to follow up a YouTube video in the world language classroom.
(The entire student form is here at the Mercado if you’re looking for a copy!)
Other “YouTube Task” Posts:
#3 Open It Up
#5 The Search