Lesson 2: Cross-cultural Communication

Language Functions

So if the learners know vocabulary and grammar, but still cannot communicate their intentions appropriately, what can the teacher do to help in this area? The question was posed to the students, who expressed the following ideas:

Verónica said...
Explain the cultural frame ... [In the Spanish culture] you really need to be more polite and put first the hearer and not you ...
Invite a native speaker, if you can, to your class ... have the students interact with that person.
Judith said...
They need to have role play games with the students where one person pretends to be the native speaker. And the other one is the language learner who has just come to the country. [Practice] with the formal/informal forms: You go to a teacher or you go buy some meat at the butcher and how do you ask for that?
Inyoung said...
Show a kind of authentic context. [Watch videos of] authentic interactions between native speakers, and let the learners see what is happening in their interactions. Then practice some role plays.

These are all excellent ideas. In addition, we should try to practice language in functions (to accomplish goals), using:

  • Contextualized language.
  • An emphasis on communication needs, goals, desires.
  • "Chunks of language," or set ways of saying things (e.g., learner hears "I figured it out" and later says "We can figured it out" without analyzing that the verb is in the past tense).