Letting Them Talk About Culture

This is the result when you let students talk about culture. A fellow teacher and I are presenting at ConnTESOL on activities to use culture in the classroom and the other day I got huge verification that it works to get students talking!

This all started with an icebreaker on the first day of class where I asked a mix of old and new students to talk about everything they knew about me. One of them mentioned that my wife would give birth first which led to them asking what we would name our son. Apparently in Arabian culture, sometimes you call “Abu Mohammed” (for example), which means “Father of Mohammed”. So then remembering an activity Thatcher has mentioned, we started discussing how people are named in different cultures. Did I mention that one of the objectives of this class is to write a compare and contrast essay?

So the discussion of names led to them writing writing down a few sentences
about their families and then discussing what they had in common. There was so much English that I had to film it briefly:

You can’t pick much out but one Chinese student was asking about Arabian names and what they mean. Another Asian student was asking if it was true that all Arabs are rich. Stereotypes being debunked and students learning about each other. What more could you ask for?

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