A Touch of Culture
Gill Johnson and Mario Rinvolucri, UK
Gill Johnson is a seasoned teacher trainer, who has worked on many projects all over the world. She is a committed CELTA trainer and assessor though lately she has delved into mainstream teaching and training in the UK, training graduates 'on the job' and mentoring new teachers in the secondary school where she now works for most of the year. When she isn't doing any of the above or working for Pilgrims, she loves singing and making music.
Mario Rinvolucri teacher, teacher trainer and author. He has worked for Pilgrims for over 30 years and used to edit Humanising Language Teaching. Regularly contributes to The Teacher Trainer. His books include: Creative Writing, with Christine Frank, Helbling, Multiple Intelligences in EFL, with Herbert Puchta, Helbling, Unlocking Self-Expression through NLP, with Judy Baker, Delta Books, New edition of Vocabulary, with John Morgan, OUP, Humanising your Coursebook, Delta Books, Using the Mother Tongue, with Sheelagh Deller, Delta Books, Ways of Doing, with Paul Davis and Barbara Garside, CUP, Imagine That with Herbert Puchta and Jane Arnold, Helbing, Creative Writing with Christine Frank, Helbing. Mario's first CDrom for students, Mindgame, was written with Isobel Fletcher de Tellez, and engineered and published by Clarity, Hongkong in 2000 . E-mail: email@example.com
The four exercises below come from Gill Johnson and Mario Rinvolucri ‘s book on teaching culture that should be out with DELTA in late 2008. The four exercises come from the chapter devoted to teaching the culture of English speaking countries. If you have comments to make on the four activities please get in touch with us firstname.lastname@example.org
Good listenership in English
Mock insults in UK teenage flirtation
Even things in English speak a different language
Googling the names of US and UK institutions
||to raise students’ awareness of the cooperative nature of British English discourse.
||listenership tokens, to use the Cambridge Grammar of English terms
||be ready to tell the class a short personal anecdote.
- Explain that when people have listened to someone telling an anecdote as part of a general conversation, they will often prove that they have been listening attentively by adding a moral to the story….this is sometimes in the form of a proverb…..
Explain that you are going to tell them an anecdote and that when you finish you want everybody to write a short reaction sentence, a moral or a proverb…. to prove how well they have been listening.
- Tell your anecdote and allow the students a minute’s thinking and writing time.
- Tell the student to fill the board with their sentences, so the group can choose the ones they like the best.
- Ask an extrovert student to tell the group a personal anecdote and repeat the above steps. Do this with a couple more people.
Note: A useful discovery of Carter and McCarthy’s in THE CAMBRIDGE GRAMMAR OF ENGLISH is the amount of interdependence there is between speakers and listeners in normal conversation.
||intermediate and upwards
||introduce students to the way UK teenagers use mock-aggressive banter with each other
||copy the dialogue below for each student.
- Write these words up on the board and explain them:
slag thong knickers nerd sad geek bitch
- Pair the students, if possible with a male and a female in each pair and tell them you are going to dictate a Him Her dialogue. The male takes down what the boy says and the female takes down what the girl says.
Dictate the conversation.
- Give the pairs five minutes to rehearse the dialogue. Tell them it took place on
an English bus. The couple in question were teenagers and surrounded by their friends.
- Give out copies of the dialogue. Get volunteer pairs to act out the dialogue and ask the students to decide who got the bantering, mock aggressive tone of the conversation right , while conveying the sexual attraction at play between the two.
- Ask the students to work in small groups and decide how this kind of courting
happens in their culture, if at all.
- Write up this paragraph from Kate Fox, WATCHING THE ENGLISH, on the
board.: The key ingredients of flirtatious banter are all very English:
Banter excludes things we English don’t like and that make us feel uncomfortable:
Acknowledgement : Teenage chat-up conversation below comes from Watching the English, Kate Fox, p 337
Her: You gotta licence for that shirt? Or are you wearing it for a bet?
Him: Huh, Look who’s talking – I can see your knickers, you slag!"
Her: It’s a thong, you nerd- not that you’d know the difference. And that’s the closest you’ll ever get to it.
Him: Who says I’d want to? What makes you think I fancy you? You’re such a slag!
Her: Better than being a sad geek!
Him: Sla- Oh, that’s my stop. You coming out later?
Her: Yeah – come round about eight.
||upper intermediate to advanced
||to help students understand how alien the onomatopoeic words of a foreign language can feel to a learner.
- Ask a student with good handwriting to write this text up on the board. Dictate it to the student:
Practising English was hopeless; what was a person to do when even things in England spoke a different language than the one they did back in Pakistan? In England the heart said BOOM BOOM instead of DHAK DHAK; a gun said BANG! instead of THAH!; things fell with a THUD not a DHARAM; small bells said JINGLE instead of CHAAN-CHAAN; the trains said CHOO CHOO instead of CHUK CHUK
- Ask the students to list the sound words from this text and to work in groups of four finding the equivalent words in their language/s.
Ask them to find more sound words in both their MT’s and in English, words like click, swoosh, clang, clunk,, thwack, clonk, tweet, chirrup. Go round helping the groups with the English words.
- Ask the students to write up the onomatopoeic English words they have found in a column to left of the board with their equivalents in other languages to the right, one column per language.
- Ask each student to choose three or four sound words that she or he likes for whatever reason and three or four he dislikes. . Students must not choose words from their own language.
Ask various students to read out the words they appreciate and to say why. Ask various students to do the same with words that do not speak to them.
- End the exercise by getting the students to comment on the feelings of the Urdu speaker above.
Variation: do a similar lesson on both the onomatopoeic words for animal noises and the verbs that evoke the sounds , e.g.: woof-woof or bow wow and the verb to bark, or baa-baa and the verb to bleat.
Acknowledgement: the passage above comes from page 35 of Maps for Lost Lovers, Nadeem Aslam, Faber and Faber, 2004
||to get students to teach each other a little about governance in UK and US
||the main institutional names in US and UK politics that you need to know to follow these countries’ media.
In the computer room
- Dictate these parallel lists:
|The White House
||10 Downing Street
||The Prime Minster
||The House of Lords (legislative)
|The House of Representative
||The House of Commons
|The State Department
||The Foreign Office
|Stars and Stripes
||Ministry of War
|The Bill of Rights
|The Supreme Court
||The House of Lords (judicial)
||Paddington Green Police Station *
* Paddington Green Police Station was the London interrogation and torture centre for Northern Ireland freedom fighters and currently hosts similar activities for Jihadists.
Depending on the size of your class ask each student to take responsibility for
googling one or two items. Make sure all the institutions are dealt with.
Ask each student to pick out five salient pieces of information about each institution, and write each one down in a single sentence. No student to produce more than 5 sentences per institution.
- Once the web search is complete, draw the students together and ask them to read out their sentences to the plenary. Add information where you think it is needed.
- Collect all the sentences and copy them for the students for the next lesson.
Acknowledgement: this exercise is a variation on an activity called CULTURE MATCH from the book CULTURAL AWARENESS (P. 21) by Tomalin and Stempleski, OUP, 1994. Barry and Susan say their exercise is an adaptation of one described Luke Prodromou in the June 1992 Issue of PET.
Please check the British Life, Language and Culture course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the What’s New in Language Teaching course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Methodology for Teaching Spoken Grammar and Language course at Pilgrims website.