The teaching of culture and history is an integral part of our educational model. The students need to know about their past and how cultural diversity influences their relationship with other groups of people in future.
The advent of the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 1999) drew attention to the vital role of culture, and defined culture as a fundamental part of the second language (L2) learning process.
Professional conferences and journals focused on cultural learning “as an instructional objective is equally as important as communication” (Moore, 2006, p. 4). While language teachers have recognized the need to incorporate more cultural activities in order to promote students’ cultural and intercultural understanding to “help combat the ethnocentrism that often dominates the thinking of our young people” (National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 1999, p. 47), the question lingers as to how such cultural teaching should and could most effectively occur at the classroom level.
The purpose of this article is to summarize the research related to the teaching of culture that describes effective pedagogical practices and can be integrated into the second language curriculum in ways that engage learners actively in the acquisition of language and culture. This overview will attempt to advance an approach to the teaching of culture and language through the theoretical construct of the 3P’s (Products, Practices, and Perspectives) (National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 1999), or content, combined with an inquiry teaching approach (pedagogy) utilizing digital media (instructional technology) and provide guidelines for successful classroom application.
The benefits reaped by students through authentic, collaborative, and contextualized learning tasks that result in digital products for an audience are well documented in the research (Maor & Roberts, 2011). When teachers integrate powerful technological tools into their instruction, students are allowed to personally interact with real data and solve open-ended problems. Integrating technology in this manner places the majority of responsibility for finding meaning in the hands of the learners. This learner-centered approach allows students to start with what they know and build their own understanding of culture.
The integration of content, pedagogy, and instructional technology when constructing knowledge promotes a rich and engaging learning environment for foreign language learners. In addition, the authors will review the research that illustrates how teachers can utilize more traditional methods of teaching culture (e.g., folklore, fairytales, authentic pictures, art, etc.) and improve them with technology to make them more effective