Teaching and Learning: Language and Culture

Janet Glass Dwight Englewood School, Englewood, New Jersey

Rutgers University

Alfred Nobel’s Peace Prize wished to reward, “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations.” What could be more critical today? As teachers of world languages, our medium is language but our message is one of cultural ambassador. Besides, what is more intriguing to a student than to learn how to make a new friend from another culture, to enter another world? This motivation is what stimulates our students’ curiosity and helps them master the language. But once hooked, how can we make the most of their interest?

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The Importance of Embedding Culture into the Teaching of Foreign Languages

 Dr. Peter B.  Swanson

Georgia State University

For years it has been noted that language teaching and learning are social processes and that the teaching of language is the teaching of culture. Thanasoulas (2001) suggests that culture and communication are inseparable because “culture not only dictates who talks to whom, about what, and how the communication proceeds, it also helps to determine how people encode messages, the meanings they have for messages, and the conditions and circumstances under which various messages may or may not be sent, noticed, or interpreted.”

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Meeting the Needs of all Students in FLES Classrooms: A Call for Differentiated Instruction

Dr. Frances S. Hoch

Raleigh, North  Carolina

The FLES (Foreign Languages in the Elementary Schools) program model is designed to provide a sequential language learning experience to all students. Access and equity lead the list of characteristics that the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign  Languages (ACTFL) has designated for effective elementary school programs. ACTFL states: “All students, regardless of learning styles, achievement levels, race/ethnic origin, socioeconomic status, home language or future academic goals, have opportunities for language study.”

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The Spanish Language of the United States

Gerardo Piña-Rosales, The North American Academy of Spanish Language

First of all, dear reader, let us focus on the title of this essay: "The Spanish Language of the United States" instead of "The Spanish Language in the United States." The difference between these two propositions is an essential one: it implies that we have begun to speak of a United Stated Spanish with its own characteristics, as one more of the multiple variants of the Spanish language spoken around the world.

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Jan Kucerik, Pinellas County Public Schools, Pinellas County, Florida

A 7th grade student known to his Spanish teacher as "Juanito" ambles reluctantly into his beginning Spanish classroom. He greets the teacher, not with an enthusiastic "Buenos días, señora," but instead with the question on the mind of many of his classmates, "What are we doing in here today?" Although we would like to believe that the question has been posed out of genuine interest in the classroom activities, we realize that Juanito's question is motivated by self-preservation. He worries that he might be unprepared for, or embarrassed by, the activities Señora has planned for today.

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