Exploring Cultural Differences
As a language and culture assistant, one of the things your students will be most interested in is your culture: What music do you listen to? What do you wear? What do you eat?
Getting students to ask these questions, then think about how their own cultures are similar and different to your own is perhaps your most important task.
Three really helpful words when you’re talking about culture are product, practice and perspective.
Product: A representation of culture. This can be a physical object (e.g., a skirt, a necklace, a bow tie, a car), an idea (e.g., democracy, healthcare), or a value (same sex marriage should be legal).
Practice: What is done with the product. For example, the skirt is worn by women around their waist. They then wear it when dancing and listening to music.
Perspective: Why the practice is important to the people involved. For example, this skirt is only used during a formal celebration in Guatemala after a girl becomes a woman, and signifies a big change in her life and position in her community.
Here’s an award-winning unit plan that involves students interviewing someone from a different community about their culture so that students can then empathize and stand in solidarity with these participants.
Spanish Culture as an auxiliar de conversación
Just as important as helping your students compare and contrast their own cultures is you yourself learning about your ciudad, provincia and comunidad autónoma. Make sure you’re taking advantage of your 3 day weekends and get out there and travel!!