Celebrating Cultural Diversity
Since the beginning of the summer the cultural life has exploded in England- various festivals, attracting hundreds of locals and tourists, are organised every weekend. Last Sunday I went to the small town of Alton, Hampshire where I witnessed "War on the Line" and got transported back to the 1940s. It was quite fascinating to have a ride on an old steam train, mingle with civilian and military re-enactors and explore period displays, singing, dancing and vintage vehicles. I have to admit that British people know how to keep their traditions and past alive.
I remember the time when I used to be a teacher in mainstream schools, I would not miss an opportunity to tell my students about the British or American culture and celebrate their customs. I will never forget the first Halloween party we organised with a volunteer from the Peace Corps. Both teachers and students were excited to participate and dress up.... In hindsight I don't think that my costume of a ladybird was scary enough..., however, I learnt that my students were eager to experience something new.
But since those times...
things have changed... I have changed ... my outlook on life has changed and now I firmly believe that teachers should introduce multicultural topics into classroom.
Now I live in the beautiful town of Folkestone, Kent where one can meet people from all over the world. That's why last weekend the local council organised the eleventh Multicultural festival, which brought together performances from Nepal, Japan, Brazil, Scotland, the Caribbean and Africa. We were able to learn Kendo and Tai Kwan Do, watch the art of Tai Chi and Belly Dancing, jive and rock. What I found particularly interesting was the group of Japanese students who taught me how to write my name in their language, showed a traditional fishing dance and how to make origami.
So seeing the excitement in the people's eyes, I was inspired to write this post and ask you:
How do you celebrate cultural diversity
These are some of the activities that work quite well with my students:
* My younger students love the episodes of "Little Human Planet" so I eagerly prepare video lessons planned around this BBC series. You can find some episodes on YouTube. Highly recommended!
*Let's colour and learn about indigenous cultures. Have you heard about Princess Vanea? Vanea is a 6-year-old girl who loves exploring cultures. She and her mum create colouring books which help children find out about cultural diversity. Check their website here.
* Creating a quiz " What do you know about other cultures". The students can design the quizzes in groups and then swap them around to test their classmates.
* Writing an article about other people's traditions. The students need to do some research and choose the most appropriate piece of information to write the report. You could give them some guidance, such as find out why the festival is celebrated, how and when it started, what influence it has on the local people, etc.
* Create reading activities based on folklore from other countries. I often use the story "Frank and Russie's Little Big adventures" that I write with one of my students. This is a fictional story, which describes a student and his English teacher' s adventures around the world. It is suitable for A2/B1 students. If you want to check out the first three chapters of the story, head to the FREE PRINTABLES page. You can get the new chapters when you subscribe to the e-zine "Inspirational English". It's FREE!
* Record a "What's on guide". June is packed with festivals so why don't you ask your pupils to find out about the most exciting events taking place in Oxford, for example, and once you've checked the script, they can record their audio guides.
Finally, I would like to add that I consider such activities extremely valuable not only because we get to know other cultures but we also learn about ourselves and our heritage. But most importantly it is a way to teach our pupils to stay CONNECTED and remember that they were born to add something, to add VALUE to this world.