Monday, July 30, 2012

English Immersion Day Camp

After coming off my candombe experience, I had to work on my presentation for the English Immersion Day Camp. I was so happy to be put into the group that was in charge of a workshop on Language and Culture - my specialty! I decided to talk about the American Council on Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the 5 C's - Communication, Culture, Comparison, Connections, and Communities.

Presenting about language and culture. Thanks ACTFL!
To show how I incorporate culture into the classroom, I gave two examples of some of my favorite lessons. Instead of separating culture and communicationas two different topics, I integrate them together all the time. In my honest opinion, there is really no excuse to not teach culture. Some might complain that there is no time, but if you combine the three together, you can do it. It just takes a little creativity. Instead of using generic Juan and Maria, look up something about an interesting topic which will also give more authenticity to the lesson. Use the Spanish Royal Family to discuss the family, the Aztecs legend of los Novios to teach the past, and gauchos and cafeteros to teach about daily routines.

I recommended that an English teacher could substitute a lumberjack or a cranberry farmer from Cape Cod, Massachusetts for the cafetero and gaucho. It would require the students to investigate and dig a little deeper in our American culture. It's the regional level where our "culture" becomes more our own because it's based on where we live. English students need to learn about the regions of the U.S. (which actually can make us very different even though we are from the same country). just like my students need to understand that the countries of Latin America are not all like Mexico.

We left early that morning and met up with some other English teachers who sat with us on the bus to practice their English and to share experiences as teachers. For a few, it was the first time they ever spoke with a native speaker of English. We got to the ranch that we were holding the Immersion Camp in and began with the ice breakers. They were a lot of fun, too.

Great to share experiences together

Then, each group began to present on such topics as technology in the classroom, backward design, language and culture, and interactive/engaging lessons. At lunch time, the Ambassador of the US to Uruguay to come visit us and congratulate us for all our hard work.  

It felt great to be able to share our experiences and to bond with teachers from another country. Being a teacher is something only few can understand. It doesn't matter where we are from or what circumstances we teach in, we are all united together in our desire to teach the next generation and to opening their eyes to how beautiful the world really is. We are also bonded by the difficulties present in our job which is why we need to learn from each other so we can make our piece of the world that much better.

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