“Visual Representation and Cultural Authenticity in the SL Classroom”
Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D. Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania Ideas for Visual Representation in the Classroom Link to PowerPoint
Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience…most learning is passive including visuals. To increase the
learning value in the classroom, combining visuals with activity makes connections stronger.
Sources of authentic visuals
; Items from the target culture you obtained.
; Gifts you were given.
; Media presentations, brochures, etc., obtained from bureaus of information in target
; Ticket from event you attended with pictures/handbills, etc.
; Job application forms
; National flag
; Driving test
; Driver’s license, photo ID
; Legal agreement (marriage, rental contract, purchase of a home)
; Birth certificate
; Car title
; Bank receipt/cheque
; involving the teacher (you) interacting in the target culture
; of places and people you know and can provide anecdotal information about
; yourself/people you know enjoying food, holidays, sports events, or activities
PRINT/ELECTRONIC MEDIA Note: when using pictures, be sure to select very high quality
; advertising (projected images) (Contrast with reality, “What is it like a short distance
from the beautiful images projected in media?”)
; famous individuals from the target culture
Cone of Learning Experience:
Ways to expand the “learning value” of visual images
Whenever you are conveying facts to students,
a good way to personalize the learning and interact with the topic is to use K-W-L
What do you KNOW about the topic?
What do you WANT to know about the topic?
What did you LEARN about the topic?
Using this method, students combine their knowledge of a topic for more meaningful learning experiences…
-Take pictures of students when they are studying cultural topics and display with the picture
representing the topic in class.
-Have students eat a particular food in class. Then they will associate the taste and smell of the
food with the picture.
-Have them try several foods and vote for their favorites.
-Learn how foods are used in the target culture, where foods are grown, what percentage of
the gross national product is represented by these foods, etc. Have students create
reports or develop other displays based on their research.
-Skype an individual from the target culture who will talk with your students about a topic and
even show them the interior of their home or the street, etc., while talking. -Include YouTube or other videos that feature the cultural topic.
-Have students prepare for celebrations by creating decorations, etc. Play a video in support of
the celebration and then let it repeat while students are working on the decorations, or
play music from the target culture while you are creating.
-When you are teaching, consider having music from the target culture playing softly in the
background during most, if not all, lessons. (You need to consider each class. For some
classes, this might be distracting. It should be music without lyrics, like soft Spanish guitar
-Have students study the history of celebrations and discover why people celebrate the way
they do today.
-Have students study the history of music and discover how historical events influenced the
way music is used today.
-Represent music with pictures of dancers. Teach the students to dance. Have them create a
costume worn in a picture that can be hung alongside the picture of the people dancing. -Have students learn authentic dances or other musical presentations and host an event where
students can demonstrate them and explain their history.
-Invite native speakers from the target culture to participate in these events and possibly
demonstrate themselves in the classroom or during an event.
-Have students create classroom displays. Assign each student to display an important fact or
favorite memory or dream, etc., along with items in the classroom. (If students are not
artistic, don’t have them draw or write, allow them to create with the computer.)
-Focus on one theme that can be developed to a deeper level. For example, study one country
for a period of time and really learn about many aspects of that country. (Architecture,
daily routine, food, government, holidays, cultural viewpoints and habits, etc.)
-Focus on one holiday and see how many ways you can find that other countries celebrate that
holiday. (Christmas, wedding, birthday, coming of age, funeral, initial driving of a car,
going to school, going to college, Independence Day, etc.)
-Compare and contrast with students’ first culture. Have them study historical underpinnings of
their cultural products, practices, and perspectives.
On the next page are links to several videos that illustrate effective integration of culture into
the classroom in meaningful and authentic ways that involve students in active learning.
10. Fruits of the Americas
21. U.S. and Italian Homes
All these videos model
ways to incorporate visuals
23. Promoting Attractions of Japan with activities and authentic culture.
26. Routes to Culture
2:20 min.; Drums 24:20 min.
27. Interpreting Picasso’s Guernica
These practices will lead to authentic and memorable learning and provide ideas for
representing culture in real ways in the classroom. END OF PowerPoint presentation
IDEAS FOR COLLECTING ARTIFACTS DURING STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCES…
(excerpt from Study Abroad Hints created for students of Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D.) Artifacts from study abroad experiences…
Photos of yourself doing activities (journal about your experiences to preserve important details)
Visit bureaus of tourism; ask for multi-media presentations, brochures, maps, etc. Collect food items and toiletries that are non-perishable so you can show them with the target language. Select common items that correlate to American items (soap, shampoo) as well as unusual items that may be common to the target culture (ethnic foods, exotic items) for contrast.
Collect advertisements, sample documents, forms that native speakers complete such as job applications, drivers’ license exams/applications, instruction booklets, certificates,
driver’s license, identification cards, birth certificates, passports, visas, paper money,
Take note of technology. For example, in my home country of Venezuela the average population had cellular phones much sooner than in the U.S. Pay phones were using credit
cards with television screens long ago—far advanced to the telephone booths here. These
kinds of facts are important and interesting to learners.
Talk to natives about special family customs and daily activities, favorite recipes, etc. What
foods are eaten every day or nearly every day? What kinds of foods are used for breakfast?
What about coffee? Is it common for the average person to drink coffee or some other beverage? How do natives view time?
What gestures are used in the target culture? For example, in Venezuela it is common to point with your lips toward something you are talking about.
How do children recite the alphabet? What songs or tunes are sung with the alphabet? What tongue twisters or other language exercises are used in the target culture to help children master language features? Be sure to ask about and learn these. Record natives explaining them and demonstrating them if you need to until you can master them. You can also use these recordings to teach your students these features.
What kinds of games are played in the target culture by children? by adults?
Pay attention to the details. Try to visit more than one country if you can so you can make comparisons for learners for different customs within the same target language. Visit historical places, favorite hang outs, natural features of the country such as terrain
(mountains, beaches), common animals, insects (and spiders), plants (trees, flowers), fruits
and vegetables, markets, restaurants, museums, etc.
Look at the kinds of pictures, pots, and décor in homes you visit. Take note of special
activities you participate in when celebrating holidays. You’ll have personal anecdotes to share
that will supplement the study of these events for your students. It will convey an authentic element to learners in your classroom.
Collect CDs with music that is enjoyed by the people of the country you visit. Find music that appeals to young and old and special songs that are used for special occasions (birthdays,
Christmas, independence, national anthem, new year’s celebration), etc. Sing the birthday song for learner birthdays in the classroom. Get copies of words of songs so you can distribute them to your students and assist them in learning popular songs you introduce.
Note differences between customs of rural natives and urban ones, etc. Religious views,
political views, patriotism, and other perspectives are also good subjects for observation and
Do your best to create a balance between appropriate generalizations about the target culture while avoiding stereotyping. Make sure you don’t stereotype as you view the target culture. If you do it, you will convey this way of thinking to your students.
Learn about famous persons from the target culture—historical figures, artists, authors, and
modern persons of note. Also seek to investigate whether persons from the target culture have
been successful in the United States. Look at this PowerPoint presentation about famous
persons in American culture from Puerto Rico.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to record too much at one time. Make a plan and
concentrate on a particular aspect or handful of concepts as you learned to do in class observations of other teachers.
Make a plan that allows you to maximize the time you have in the target culture. For example,
divide you time into weeks. Visit markets the first week and collect food stuffs, toiletries,
and journal about shopping. The second week, visit a tourism bureau. Find out popular
sites that tourists visit as opposed to what natives are interested in. Use this information to
plan trips to these areas during your study abroad experience. Don’t neglect postcards as
valuable artifacts. Often postcards offer high quality panoramic views of important
landmarks and natural features using aerial photography or other specialized technology
that you cannot duplicate with your handheld digital camera.
This handout available at: www.lhup.edu/evalerio/presentations.html
Click the BMLC Link under 2012 presentations…
Dale, Edgar. Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience (Internet search engine)
Ogle, Donna. K-W-L: http://www.readingquest.org/strat/kwl.html
Shrum, Judith L., Glisan, Eileen W. Teacher’s Handbook: Contextualized Language Instruction. 4th ed.
Boston: Heinle. 2010. Print
Valerio, Eduardo M. Study Abroad Hints. Course document.