Teaching Culture 2013

(SFW 2012)
What is culture?
The definitions of culture(s) seem as
diverse as the cultures themselves.
Educating Future Army Officers for a
Changing World defines culture as “the
totality of learned behaviors, attitudes
and a shared way of life that is passed on
to succeeding generations.”
(p. 33)
Why do we teach culture?
Support National Security Strategy: Army Culture & Language
Support USMA mission:
Educate: we want cadets to know certain things
(e.g., names and cultural significance of key
Train: we want cadets to do certain things
(e.g., behave in a culturally-sensitive manner), and
Inspire: we want cadets to be open to other
How do cadets learn
about culture?
Overseas immersion: CRAWL-WALK-RUN.
Examples: spring language & cultural immersion in
China, summer language & cultural immersion in
Brazil, semester abroad in France
Local opportunities: mini-immersion at West Point
or nearby. Examples: interaction with international
officers, international cadets, international visitors,
and class trips to Chinatown, Brighton
Beach, Montreal
Instruction and homework: integrate cultural
awareness into language-learning process
How do we teach culture?
- Meet them where they are. Discuss aspects of
popular American culture and whether they are easily
imported into other cultures. Why or why not?
- What’s in a name? Allow cadets to pick an inclass name appropriate to the nation(s) in which your
language is spoken.
- Sing a song, learn a proverb, or poem. Resist the
temptation to turn this fun activity into a grammatical
How do we teach culture?
Coin me! Distribute a coin from the nation(s) in
which your language is spoken to each cadet and
make sure you keep a coin. If you “coin” cadets
during class or in Central Area, and they do not have
their coins, they must do ten push-ups counting off
in your language. If they do have their coins, you
must be willing to do the push-ups (or some other
less physical activity, e.g., buy a soda at Grant Hall).
Царь далеко,
а бог высоко.
How do we teach culture?
How do we teach culture?
1. With minimal commentary in advance, play a carefullyselected film clip (preferably w/subtitles).
2. Ask cadets in groups to record (in writing) what they saw,
heard, and felt. Then fill in some cultural context of the
film clip and have cadets watch and discuss the clip a
second time.
3. The enhanced quality of their descriptions should show
cultural awareness enriches their experience.
4. Can be done as an “information gap” activity.
How do we teach culture?
Chronology: give cadets slips of paper with the names of
leaders of countries they are studying.
1. Tell cadets to arrange them in order of their reign.
2. Then have them arrange them in geographic distribution.
3. Then have them divide them into good and bad; old and
new; most important and least.
4. They make simple statements as to why: “People worked
too hard.” “People lived well.” “There was a big war.”
“I like his clothes.” “Nice horse!”
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