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Cultural Differences: Language Learning and Teaching

Level: ESL Intermediate and above
Objectives: raise awareness of various ways learning/teaching is done in different parts of the world; find out students’ preferable ways to learn; prepare students for new learning situations
Teacher Notes:
Write the following quote on the board and discuss its meaning:
Like an iceberg, that part of culture that is visible is only a small part of a much bigger whole. (Jerome H. Hanley)
(Some aspects of culture are observable: clothes, ways of greeting people, dancing, body language, etc., but some features, like most of the iceberg, are hidden from the view e.g.: world views, beliefs, values etc. - also, learning/teaching styles).
Put students in pairs/small groups. Brainstorm different ways to teach and learn:
What are some ways a teacher uses to help students learn? In your prior learning, which of the following were the most/least frequently used by a teacher?
Ways to Teach:
- explain/present new material
- review/go over
- demonstrate/model
- give a lecture on/lecture on
- facilitate/lead a class/group discussion
- do grammar/vocabulary drills
- brainstorm (request as many ideas a possible from the whole class on a topic)
- ask to peer teach
- provide feedback
Ways to Learn:
What are some ways to learn? In your prior learning, which of the following did you use the most/least frequently?
- memorize/learn by heart
- review/go over/practice
- ask questions in public
- participate in class discussions/debates
- take notes
- do research
- do group projects
Hand out the worksheet. In This Is the Way I Learn English! students indicate to what degree the given statements reflect their preferable ways to learn English. Have students share their choices in small groups. Take up the most interesting points as a whole class (e.g.: How many people like to discover language rules by themselves? Who prefers slow and systematic teacher explanations? Why?)
Alternatively, ask the results to be handed in anonymously for your later reflection. Elicit any additional ways students prefer to learn English.
Wrap up with Conversation Questions.
Student Handout

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ESL Worksheet Cultureal Differences Language Learning and Teaching.pdf

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