Purpose & Goals

Language teachers are expected to integrate culture into their classrooms, but at times accessing a foreign culture from abroad can be a challenge. Therefore, the first goal of this workshop is to share with participants not only the more theoretical aspects of U.S. culture in comparison with their home culture (values, assumptions) but also more specific, concrete aspects of U.S. culture (race, ethnicity, music, education, media, current events, and any other topics in which participants express interest in the pre-workshop survey) in order to give them firsthand knowledge of relevant cultural topics. To reinforce these aspects, participants will go on site visits both locally and farther afield, as well as meet with experts at Southern Illinois University and beyond in the form of classroom visits and guest lectures. All materials will be open-source so participants can continue to use them in their own classrooms.

The second goal is ensure that this knowledge is transferrable to their teaching jobs in their home countries and to encourage self-assessment and reflection. To this end, participants will be asked to make regular contributions to an online forum in which they will reflect on not only the contents of this workshop but also how these contents could be applied in their jobs back home. Secondly, they will be asked to design a lesson plan around a cultural topic of their interest covered in the workshop, which they will then present to their fellow participants. After that they will reflect on their own lesson plan and help to critique fellow participants’ lessons in the implementation of a reflective form of teaching which can be carried on in their professional practice back home.

Learning Objectives:

  • To help participants identify appropriate, relevant cultural topics which can be integrated into their classrooms
  • To strengthen participants’ abilities to contextualize information and creatively connect examples to local context
  • To encourage intercultural dialogue by exploring and engaging in dialogue with the host community of southern Illinois and to become aware of participants’ cultural perspectives in comparison to cultural perspectives in the U.S.
  • To gain exposure to adult experiential teaching methods through interactive classroom sessions and site visits
  • To strengthen knowledge of U.S. values and culture, including race, ethnicity, politics, and education
  • To use an online forum to become reflective learners concerning learning about culture and learning about English language teaching approaches
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