March 7 | #EarlyLang

“Interculturality and Early Language Learners”
from March 7, 2018

On March 7, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly #EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed the importance of interculturality, how to incorporate it into classes using the TL, and helpful resources for developing both intercultural competence (IC) and intercultural communicative competence (ICC).

Defining the topics:

Intercultural competence (IC) is the ability to interact with people from outside one’s own culture based on attitude, knowledge, and skill along with demonstrating awareness, curiosity, empathy, and knowledge of another perspective.

Intercultural communicative competence (ICC) is the ability to interact effectively and appropriately with people from other cultures and language backgrounds; this is the overlap of IC and language proficiency.

Q1: Thinking about the definitions of Interculturality we shared, what are the specific attitudes, knowledge, and skills we want our students to acquire and develop?

The main trend of this portion of the conversation centered on open-mindedness and observing without judging. For all learners this is important; young learners can also come to appreciate that while things are “different” or seem “weird”, they must try to see from other perspectives and be curious instead of judgmental. Simply being different doesn’t mean wrong, it could be something interesting to explore. An attitude of being ready to learn and try new things is also important, so is the ability to recognize stereotypes and how they affect one’s thinking. Finally, several participants mentioned the importance of travel, that students know how many places use the TL, and giving them the desire to visit those places.

Q2: How do we ensure that we incorporate interculturality in an age-appropriate way?

Begin by being intentional, make a plan to address interculturality from the students’ perspective so that they relate to the content. Several participants recommended that teachers consider what students are interested in and what is important to them as a way to make it relevant and meaningful so that it will also affect their perspective and ideas (in a positive way). @_MadameH and @doriecp both mentioned using authentic resources such as videos or photos of places, art projects inspired by people from the culture, festivals, and music all as ways to connect to culture in a meaningful way and invite curiosity into the classroom.

Q3: How can we help students develop interculturality while keeping classes in 90%+ target language?

@_MadameH “Visuals!!!”

@_SrtaOwens “first students learn vocabulary and language structures, making personal connections” and using that vocab/structure to explore other cultures and countries

@MundodePepita “for littles, keeping things very concrete & age relevant is key to 90-100% in the TL. Songs, games, realia, simple comparisons of concrete topics (Santa / 3 Kings for ex), food, dance, etc” and to not teach everything about culture to novice learners

@DoraFGragg “by using pictures, videos and items that they can see for vocabulary in target language. I use Diagrams and write USA/Peru or USA/Mexico etc on the board or chart paper and we say similarities or differences”

@doriecp “And students can develop IC outside of language class as well! It’s important to partner with classroom teachers and teachers from other disciplines as much as possible!”

Q4: How can we use the new @NCSSFL @actfl Intercultural Communication Can-Do statements in #EarlyLang classes?

One suggestion is to use them to keep parents and the community informed. Another participant writes the IC Can dos along with proficiency can dos on the board so students can see all of the lesson objectives. @SECottrell suggested to focus on the linguistic pieces and determine what students can identify or say.

Q5: What other resources have you found useful in bringing interculturality to your classroom?

Resources are practically endless, from the small things teachers can do to the bigger picture. Gestures, use of idioms, how to write the date all convey a cultural perspective. Authentic resources provide another means of seeing different viewpoints through video, guests (parents and others who speak a different language), books, realia, food, and music. Online sources can be helpful, too, like Spanish Playground or Twitter to follow countries or famous people from other cultures. Several graphics were linked. Byram’s model of ICC and Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity Finally,

@doriecp linked a book she co-authored to provide concrete examples of theory to practice


Participants discussed their actions steps based on the chat. One reflaction was on the importance of experience. Students need to understand what it is like to be a child in the culture of the TL so they are not simply passive learners, but gain insight into that life. @mundodepepita linked a blog post with principles for integrating interculturality and the classroom as a resource to spark ideas for the rest of the participants.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Dorie, (@doriecip)‏ for leading the chat and to our co-moderator, Julie, (@mundodepepita) for helping guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat.The next chat is March 21, 2018 at 8 pm EST.  Hope to see you there.

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This week’s chat is

sponsored by:

EMC School

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