SPECIAL EVENTS: THE ENGLISH CULTURAL WEEK.
The English cultural week can be an invaluable event to bring some distinguishing aspects of the FL culture to students of the target language; in this case in coordination with the rest of the areas. Therefore, through teachers´ meetings we may come up with a cross-curricular proposal, analyzing the way in which the different areas can contribute to the development of the cultural week. Besides, this event offers an invaluable opportunity to promote parental involvement through active participation of families in some of the activities.
In more practical terms, the next paragraphs cover a possible “route map” for the different areas:
Artistic Education: It is undeniable that decoration of classrooms and common spaces like corridors entail a strong motivating power for children. Accordingly, prior to the development of any other activity, we shall provide main teachers with materials and resources to decorate different spaces at school. There is a wide range of possibilities, ranging from English speaking countries flags, posters depicting famous people from these countries (i.e. music bands or singers, sport men and women, Royal family, presidents…), images showing typical sports, etc.
Social Science: In this area we want learners to identify in a world map the countries where the English language is spoken. This shall be done through Interactive maps, using the IWB to get children familiar with geographical aspects of the FL world. In this sense, children may match capitals and countries, identify English speaking countries, drag typical monuments and representative buildings of the FL world to their corresponding place (i.e. drag the London Eye to England, etc). Moreover, students can be asked to follow a similar procedure to relate famous people from the FL culture to their countries through a “treasure hunt” activity in which they investigate in some pre-selected web sites.
Natural Science: In this area, we shall focus on the weather in English speaking countries. The objective is to search and scan some pre-selected websites for students to obtain data and complete a chart, so that they can compare the weather in an English city (i.e. London) with the weather in the own region. Once obtained this information, it can be recorded and displayed in the “English weather board”.
Physical Education: the P.E. area shall contribute by getting children familiar to typical British and American sports like cricket or baseball, as well as traditional sports such as the Highland Games. At the end of the cultural week, children´s families can be invited to an adapted funny competition in which the different classrooms clans compete in games like “Tossing the caber” or “pull the rope”.
Music: Using songs is always motivating for children because they like music and movement. Besides, through this appealing resource we can get them to become familiar with the FL culture. Seen in this light, the music teacher in coordination with the FL teacher/s shall adapt simple versions of highly recognized traditional or pop-rock songs to the different levels for children to play with the flute and dance.
Mathematics: In this area we can pose mathematical challenges, like finding out the adequate quantities of different ingredients to cook typical dishes (i.e. Brownie, chocolate chip cookies, and so on). The final result shall be a recipe which can be cooked at home with the previously arranged help of parents to be brought to school.
In addition, some practical proposals from the FL area adaptable to the different levels may be.
Holiday project: Projects offer students the possibility to collaborate and share their knowledge using the FL. In addition, through “investigation tasks” learners may discover relevant facts and aspects of the FL culture. In this activity, students in groups can prepare a journey to some English speaking capitals (i.e. London, New York, Sydney, etc). Therefore, they shall search and scan some pre-selected websites to gather information about interesting places, food, traditions, etc. Before getting students to work, the teacher must provide them with clear instructions. To do so, each group shall be given clues on the type of information required and some tips to make the search easier. Once they have collected the data, they write down relevant information in a chart considering different aspects (i.e. interesting places in London: The Houses of Parliament; typical food: fish and chips; some other activities: a ride in The London Eye, etc).
Finally, with the help of the teacher, students can report back to their classmates and present through the Interactive White Board (IWB) some photographs of the places they have chosen.
Our English guest: Taking an English person to our classes may ensure that our students see the usefulness of the FL and learn something about other cultures. However, this activity cannot be improvised; rather, we should practise making questions, selecting topics, etc. In groups, students may ask the English guest about his/her country and city, the weather, food and favourite activities.
Meet new friends: the internet and some educational platforms such as e-Twinning offer schools the possibility to interact and use the FL in a secure digital environment. In this sense, we can use a presentation script rehearsed along the previous week for children to introduce themselves to other students from an English speaking country. This activity requires careful preparation on the part of the FL teacher and can be implemented at different levels. An example can be a video conference using a classroom Skype account. After introducing themselves and meeting their new partners, we shall inform them about the activities we have accomplished for the English cultural week.
Product: The Anglo-Saxon games. The unit´s challenge intends to connect with one of the most remarkable children´s interest: games. The celebration of the English cultural week is an ideal setting to put into motion the Anglo-Saxon school Olympics. This project leads to the comprehension and expression of games to take part in them, the investigation about traditional sports in our area, and most importantly, the inclusive values of inclusion for people with any kind of disability. Our eTwinning partners shall receive a video demonstrating the traditional game with a podcast explanation, and a video-report with the highlights of the Anglo-Saxon Olympics.
The celebration of an English cultural week brings about the possibility to deepen into the main aim of foreign language teaching (FLT onwards), which is the attainment of a certain degree of communicative competence, since this event can be an ideal contextualizing framework which contributes to enhance the cultural dimension of the English language.
Video by: Hogie the Globehopper