With the holiday season approaching, it’s good to add some fun into teaching to keep your students engaged and motivated. We’ve created 12 simple classroom activities and tips that you can carry out with your primary class to encourage them to be good.
5 ways to bring cultural diversity into your classroom
Bringing cultural diversity into the classroom is becoming increasingly important. Our young learner and teen students are exposed to different ideas, traditions and voices from all over the world. This is thanks to social media platforms like YouTube, SnapChat, TikTok, and Instagram – among others.
This is a hugely positive advance because greater cultural understanding increases opportunities for studying and working abroad. However, with so many online contradictions, the world can also seem confusing. It’s our job as teachers to show students how to navigate and cope with the information they find.
By talking about cultural similarities and differences – and rejecting stereotypes – we help our students understand that the world is an extremely diverse and exciting place. In turn, this will encourage them to be more understanding and tolerant of others in the classroom, helping them to thrive in the future, if they enter an international working environment.
So here are five exciting ways to bring cultural diversity into your classroom using maps, reading materials, and images.
1. Use a world map
World maps are excellent classroom resources. You can use an online version projected on the whiteboard, a poster-sized one from a school supplier, or one that you build on a bulletin board with A4 printed sheets.
Having the world at your fingertips suddenly makes a huge planet seem much more inviting and exciting. It’s not just the places themselves but the distances, geography and diversity that can be displayed on a world map bringing new information and connections to the learners’ attention.
Build on your map throughout the year. Encourage students to add information to the map to increase their knowledge of the world as you cover different themes. Add cultural details relevant to where you teach and new places students are learning about in class.
If you create a yearbook, add a snap of the final map to show students the world they have discovered over the past year.
2. Build a background
Build on a theme or topic covered in your coursebook by including photographs and/or commentary from students of a similar age from around the world. You can find authentic materials online using resources like Teacher Tube (a school-friendly video platform), or search for images or articles online. Themes you could cover include; musical instruments, animals, festivals, places of interest and sports.
Then you can encourage students to share their traditions or thoughts on how their experiences relate to those you have introduced. It’s also a good idea to bring in items related to the theme that they recognize and talk through why they are important in their culture.
For example, if your theme is related to music, find a video or a set of images of children around the world playing (or talking about) traditional instruments. Bring in an instrument or two that your students would easily recognize. Ask them to share how the instruments are played and their cultural significance. They can then add their ideas to the map in the form of stories, photos or drawings.
3. Highlight similarities
Sometimes when we mention culture, the outcome can be to highlight differences, but we can highlight similarities too. Students can often be interested and even amazed at how similar lives across the world can be. Below are some example activities:
- Who are the people who help in your community? Possible answers could include nurses/doctors, the police or fire service, teachers, bus drivers, etc. Compare images of these occupations from around the world and have students identify/discuss why they are similar.
- What is your favorite way to celebrate? Look at what items (food, clothing, gifts) mark celebrations in different cultures – why are some things, like New Year celebrations and birthdays, universal?
- What makes a good friend? Ask students if distance changes these characteristics.
Use string to link the countries to an image or word-list of similarities and add to this, as topics increase.
Note that while it’s also important to show there are differences, you should be wary of stereotypes. If you are using a coursebook, look and see how many stereotypes are included – you might be surprised. Are the Inuit only shown living in igloos? Does everyone in Mexico have a sombrero? Is the most pasta eaten per person in Italy? (No, it’s the USA).
Does the stereotype give the learner a better understanding of a country or culture? How can we present a balanced view?
4. Share a story
Most cultures are rich in storytelling tradition. This means asking students to share a story should be stress-free. Nevertheless, they may need help with the English words, so how do we prepare children to share their stories?
This can be an excellent opportunity to build a home/school link. Help students to think about a story they want to share:
- What words do they need to tell that story?
- Can they act out parts of the story?
- Could a picture, a clip of video, a piece of music help tell the story?
Give the students time to prepare so they can bring in photos, realia etc. from home. In some situations, it might be an opportunity to invite in parents/grandparents to help with the story.
If you have tablet computers in your class let a small group of students take turns to record the stories. Have other groups create a poster for each story to add to the world map.
5. Use culturally diverse reading materials
Providing diverse reading materials is an excellent way to introduce your students to cultures, ideas and traditions from all over the world. So perhaps it’s time to review your class library. If you can’t find authors from every continent, it might be time to update it.
While printed books are a nice resource to have, you are restricted by your shelf space. Digital readers, on the other hand, can help you solve that problem. With so many great titles available, there’s no need to limit what you have available for your students to read.
Focus on one area of the world at a time and read adapted versions of books by authors from this region. Then ask students if they have a similar story in their culture.
More blogs from Pearson
Sometimes, it’s nice to share cultural insights with our students so they can get a deeper understanding of the context of the language they are learning. However, without lots of time and money, it can be tough to travel to an English-speaking country yourself and experience what life is like first-hand.
But what if you could learn about British history, customs and culture from the comfort of your sofa?
That’s right - in an instant you could be transported back to the dark cobbled streets of 19th century London, to an industrial town in northern England or a rural village in Surrey.
Today, we want to share six English stories set in Britain that provide cultural, historical and social aspects of British life, both past and present.
So sit back, relax and let us take you on an adventure.
Written by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
This story about the intelligent and beautiful Emma was first published at the end of 1815. The book, which takes place in a fictional village called Highbury (located in the charming county of Surrey), covers themes such as romance, social class and female empowerment.
Emma is a social person who enjoys seeing people happy and contented. She spends her time arranging marriages between her friends but sometimes makes mistakes. Will the problems she causes upset people? And can she find love herself?
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray
Written by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
This philosophical yet supernatural thriller, first published in 1890, is full of lies, secrets and mystery. The tale revolves around the main character, Dorian Gray, who after inheriting a property from his grandfather, travels to London and soon makes new friends. One of his new acquaintances paints a portrait of Dorian, who makes a dangerous wish that he would give anything - even his soul - to stay as young and good-looking as he appears in the painting.
Soon, things start to go wrong and his life gets out of control. But he doesn’t seem to get older. Why? The terrible secret he’s hiding in his attic is the answer. What could it be? Allow yourself to travel back to Victorian times and see London through the eyes of this handsome and hedonistic young man.
Written by Mary Anne Evans (1819-1880)
Written under Mary’s pen name,George Elliott, this work of realism was first published in eight installments during 1871 and 1872. The story, set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch from 1829-1832, tells a tale of science and discovery. It follows Dorothea, a young woman determined to change the world and Dr. Lydgate, an ambitious man who wants to be a leader in science. Dorothea and Dr. Lydgate are both married, but soon their marriages go wrong.
Can they ever be happy? Will they achieve their dreams? Although the central theme of the book revolves around the marriage of the two main characters, with many historical references such as the 1832 Reform Act, the beginnings of the railways and the death of King George IV, Middlemarch is great for those who are interested in history as well as provincial life.
4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Written by Richard Curtis (born 1956)
Those looking for a more modern look at British life can learn plenty about customs and cultures in this contemporary book, which has been adapted from one of Britain’s funniest and most popular films. Released in 1994, Four Weddings and a Funeral is about Charles (played by Hugh Grant in the film), a charming man who is very unlucky in love.
One day, during his friend’s wedding, he meets a beautiful girl called Carrie. Unfortunately, she does not plan to stay in England, and travels back to the United States. But they keep meeting each other, so maybe things can work out for the couple. Laugh while discovering the ins and outs of the British social scene in this romantic comedy.
5. North and South
Written by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
North and South, published in 1855, is about a young woman named Margaret Hale who moves with her parents from rural southern England to an industrial town called Milton in the north. There, she meets a wealthy mill owner named Mr. Thornton, and though she dislikes him, he immediately falls in love with her.
During her time in Milton, she witnesses what it’s like to work in the mills where employers and workers constantly clash. As his workers go on strike, will Mr. Thornton be able to charm Margaret? This complex and provoking story follows the working class struggle during the Industrial Revolution.
6. Oliver Twist
Written by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
Published in 1832, Oliver Twist was Dickens’ second novel. The story tells the tale of a young orphan we can all feel for. Oliver is brought up in a workhouse where he is beaten, starved and poorly treated. With no parents to look after him, he decides to run away to London, where he joins a gang of thieves.
His new friends look out for him, but can they protect him from a life of danger and crime? An interesting look at the darker side of Britain’s capital, Oliver Twist is still popular today with film, musical and TV adaptations.
Want some more reading inspiration for your English lessons?
Discover graded Readers featuring some of the world’s best-loved authors.
Pearson has Readers adapted from classic English novels with audio files and a comprehensive teacher resources section, meaning you can use them in class with your students too.
In the fast-paced world of business, there is one undeniable fact that holds true: employees are the key to success. Their commitment and expertise propel organizations towards their objectives, which is why investing in a learning culture is essential. The advantages are numerous and include improved staff retention, increased productivity and the goal of higher employee engagement.