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Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to teach culture and promote stereotypes

Culture can either be a fun or excruciating class to teach. Focusing on the different traditions, customs and manners between Korea and the United States, it's a fantastic course with higher-level students. They seem to enjoy learning about silly US superstitions -- like tossing spilled salt over your shoulder or considering black cats a bad sign -- and are equally enthusiastic to share their own stories.

A friend's students told her that in Korea, a crow is a bad omen and if you get unexplainable shivers, a ghost is sitting on your shoulders you so you must brush him off. One shared superstition is opening an umbrella indoors -- don't do it. Definitely an interesting and discussion-provoking class.

With lower level students, however, Culture is painful. To make it a little simpler, we focus on teaching American holidays (comparing Thanksgiving to Korea's Chuseok, for example) and lessons with young students basically consist of them making holiday cards.

For older students who still have almost no grasp of English, I came up with the idea to talk about stereotypes and have them draw or write their impressions of America and what they believe Americans think about Korea.

Tossing aside a few common answers (America: hamburgers and pizza; Korea: kimchi), there were some really creative responses and interesting insights into how America is seen by Korean teenagers.

- Ferris Wheel
- FBI (drawing of satellites radiating from the US to spy on the entire world)
- freedom (many students simply wrote "freedom" or "free," which was nice to see)
- Transformers
- Beyonce and "Mickle Jeckson"
- dragon
- monkey house

- fast Internet
- high IQ
- many crazy boys and "many not think people"
- IT top country ("potoshop")
- "pig cold"
- F4 (hello, "Boys Before Flowers")

1 comment:

  1. hmmm.. interesting.. my Korean coworkers told me the "opening an umbrella indoors" was not a superstition here.