iFLT 2018 “Bringing Culture Back – Martina Bex”

Martina Bex – Check out her website!!


Language vs. Cultural Content 

How can we teach CULTURE in the TARGET LANGUAGE??

  • How do you talk about perspectives in the Target Language?
  • Authentic Resources are difficult to make them comprehensible.
  • There is SO much culture to cover.
  • Maybe you don’t know a lot about the culture.
  • Don’t want to emphasize stereotypes.
  • Planning – You run out of time to do it in CI because that takes time.
  • Students cannot relate.



Acquiring Vocabulary – Comprehensible Input (stories, readings, PQA etc.)

  • Establish Meaning – translate, vocab in context/sentences, PQA
  • Story
  • Music

Introduce Topic – non-fiction, informational

  • include both viewpoints

Explore the Topic – authentic sources that you have “comprehensified” and resources created for language learners

  • MovieTalk, Comics, Infographics, Music


EXAMPLE: El Chico del Apartamento 512

** “Student-Centered – communication involves what the students KNOW, NEED and CAN DO”

** Mental Representation of Language – “Language is a HUGE web inside your brain with TONS of connects.”

** ERRORs – “Gives information of where students are and where they are headed”

How do you START?


What structures do you want to teach?

What Vocab do I HAVE to teach?

  • What structures do I need to teach for my students to use the vocabulary that I may require to teach

What structures do I need to teach

EXAMPLE – UNIT 2 – La Corrida de Toros

EXAMPLE – UNIT 17 El Viajero / La inmigración

EXAMPLE – UNIT Superstitions

EXAMPLE – UNIT Bullfighting

** Don’t commit time to words that you would only really use to talk about that cultural topic. Also, don’t use cognates as your targeted structures that could be easily recognized.

** Summarize your topic in 3 sentences in ENGLISH and think about the structures/vocabulary you needed to talk about it.

DEMO STEP ONE – (Group Brainstorming)

My group- Legal Immigration (because illegal immigration is a little too controversial)

tiene que saber – has to know (Someone has to learn, has to know, has to go etc.)

toma # (años, meses, semanas, días) – it takes _______ (years, months, weeks, days)

cuestait costs


STEP TWO – Create Cultural Reading

Create a cultural reading with the target structures.

  • Start with a small summary. Change the target structures if needed.
  • Keep it comprehensible.  Keep an “in bounds” word list in front of you
  • Use negation. “No es difícil.”
  • Stay away from passive voice
  • Present-day situations – “Gauchos live and work alone.”
  • Past events? Subjunctive? Conditional? – IT IS OK! Shelter vocabulary NOT grammar!

DEMO STEP ONE – (Group Brainstorming)

¿Quieres ser ciudadano?  Muchas personas quieren ser cuidadanos. Cuesta mucho dinero. Toma 5-8 años. Tienes que saber mucha información de Estados Unidos.


STEP THREE – Do Cultural Research

  • Become an expert!!
  • Locate authentic & non-authentic resources for the topic
    • Videos
    • Songs
    • Blog POsts & articles
    • Infographics
    • Tweets
    • Novels and short stories



Pretend to THROW a knife, a baby, a cat… to another student by saying their name and throwing slowly


STEP FOUR – GLOBAL Competency (Fill in the triangle)

Think through the Products, Practices, Perspectives on this TOPIC to help deepen the study and avoid stereotypes.


Planning model developed by Cari Johnson (blog post by Martina Bex)

  • fill in triangles
  • write comprehensible discussion questions
  • create comparative readings


Product – citizenship exam, study materials, the oath when you become a citizen

Practices – Becoming a citizen, taking a test, learning the language, dual citizenship, different types of residency (green card, residency)

Perspectives – what does being a citizen mean, what entitles you to be a citizen, what does it say about a country who has a long/hard process or easy citizenship, why do you become a citizen



  • How can they demonstrate their acquisition of the target structures?
  • How will students demonstrate knowledge of cultural PPP?
  • How will students demonstrate their global competency?


STEP SIX – Plan Cultural Explorations

  • Create activities that will prepare students for the assessment
    • target structures/content must be covered
    • which modes must be used (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational)
    • what skills should be practices
    • which resources will you use
  • Use target structures in each activity


GROUP goal – 3-4 Discussion Questions about the topic that you choose that (1) are comprehensible and (2) help them demonstrate their knowledge of the PPPs and target structures.

Create your own country, would you keep these regulations that we discussed?

What would someone “have to do” in your country, what would it “cost”, and how long would it “take” to become a citizen?


STEP SEVEN – Plan Vocabulary Acquisition

  • TPRS Story
  • Game
  • MovieTalk
  • PQA
  • Readings


STEP EIGHT – Expand into larger Units

Repeat the process for related topics and build into larger units

  • Politics in Latin America
  • History of Peru
  • Argentina
  • Festivals in Spain

End with culminating assessments

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