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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > How much history and culture is too little or too much?    

How much history and culture is too little or too much?



blunderbuster
Germany

How much history and culture is too little or too much?
 
Hi fellow teachers,

I was wondering how you deal with students who complain about too much culture and history in teaching materials. What are your views on this? Do you make an effort to give people background information when you see fit or don īt you take such detours at all? Someone complained to me because I spent an approximate 1.5% of the total course duration (27x90min) on talking about history.....

Regards

12 Nov 2010      





aliciapc
Uruguay

Hi Regina, I think if you apply content to your language classes, that īs great! It shouldn īt be a reason for complaint, rather for compliment ... I do try to make sts learn through the language, science, history, geography, whatever I have time for and is related to the syllabus .I īm lucky they don īt complain! And content makes classes much more interesting...

12 Nov 2010     



libertybelle
United States

I think it all depends on what curriculum you are suppose to be teaching.
I love learning about History by reading novels.
I hate school book History with boring dates and kings.........*yawn* and
so do most students too.

In my opinion, History is not made by kings and queens, but by the people who lived at that period in time.
It īs important that we teach kids a language they can use to exchange ideas and information.
It īs all about communication.

I teach a topic by trying to see and understand it from many perspectives.

To really teach English - it īs the kids that must do most of the talking - not the teachers!
We serve the ball - the kids play the game.  (like soccer)
My function is to explain and to give my students the tools for finding information and process it so they can use it.
L

12 Nov 2010     



donapeter
Romania

I recommend    British History Highlights (Timesaver)Noone complained! 

12 Nov 2010     



Zora
Canada

I always take "detours" if I can. I know that I liked it when I was in school and a teacher was able to give us a bit of background info or some additional tidbit on something. I think "great" teachers are able to tell anecdotes that engage us and, it is often these moments, where a student remembers something important...

Also, to be bluntly honest, a lot of students nowadays are "extremely" (and I mark and underline this) ignorant about world history, geography and often anything that īs not to do with famous popstars or sports figures or leeches of society that have become famous because they shook Madonna īs hand; therefore they are having an affair with her... *rolls eyes*

In short, I often think itīs a necessity to add additional info because learning a language is not just about learning pronouns and verbs.  Itīs also about "everything that goes along with it" and if a student complains, well, thatīs just too bad.



12 Nov 2010     



GIOVANNI
Canada

I also think it is important to give some additional input when teaching.  It makes things more interesting and I always find that most students tend to ask questions, after a little information on a subject is given.  I find ī īthe detours ī ī give good conversation pieces in class.

12 Nov 2010     



MoodyMoody
United States

I have a little different perspective because my students live in the USA and can see many of the differences. They NEED to know about American culture, so they don īt mind at all. Some of the things I teach can be boring, such as pay stubs, but 1) it īs mandated by my curriculum, and 2) that īs something they really need to know.
 
Since my students come from such different backgrounds, I often invite them to talk about things from their country. I learn as much from them as they do from me. For example, did anyone know that it īs bad luck for a red fox to cross your path? That īs an Ethiopian belief.
 
I guess the point I īm trying to make is that any mention of culture should be relevant to the students and to the material you īre teaching. 

12 Nov 2010     



blunderbuster
Germany

Thank you guys. Some other students, who loved it (I have a degree in history), backed me up, but I still wanted to know you guys ī opinion. These students weren īt learning English but German, I hope you didn īt mind me asking the question here ....

Regards

12 Nov 2010     



libertybelle
United States

Moody - one of the problems with my history lessons was that we almost ONLY learned about American history and almost nothing about anywhere else in the world.
I learned a lot more after moving to Europe.

I read a great book about Russia in  novel and learned more than ever in a normal history book.  But that īs just me.

L

12 Nov 2010     



MoodyMoody
United States

I agree with you, libertybelle, we Americans are much too insular in our education. I also learn a lot of history through novels.
 
I made the incorrect assumption that blunderbuster was referring to learning British, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, Belizean, Barbadan, Jamaican, and USA culture in the context of teaching English.
 
I also have a different perspective on language and culture teaching since I teach adults with many different native languages (10 different native languages in a class of 20), many different education backgrounds (from no school at all in the native country to a BA in accounting), and many different ages (19 to 68). I will admit that I don īt teach a lot of history in my class; I leave that to the Citizenship class teacher. Our focus is on the English the students need to have to be productive members of American society. It takes all kinds, even if I haven īt quite figured out what kind I am.

12 Nov 2010