This page contains activities, assignments, readings, and resources for teaching and learning about culture, contextualization, and realia in world language education.


  • Students will define culture.
  • Students will locate high quality, culturally authentic materials.
  • Students will explain how the cultural triangle can be used to plan meaningful language lessons.
  • Students will design a meaningful language lesson that incorporates at least 3 research-based principles or instructional strategies for teaching culture.
  • Students will design a project that engages secondary students in exploring culture and assesses their learning.


1) I can define culture.
2) I can locate high quality culturally authentic materials.
3) I can use the cultural triangle to plan meaningful language lessons.
4) I can design a meaningful language lesson with a cultural focus.
5) I can design a project that engages middle or high school students in exploring culture.


  • What is culture?
  • Why is it important to teach culture in the second language classroom?
  • Where can teachers find high quality, culturally authentic materials?
  • How might the cultural triangle from the National Standards for Foreign Language help us to better understand and teach the relationships between the products, practices, and perspectives inherent in a given culture or a specific community within the target culture? Annenberg - El triángulo cultural
  • How might teachers use the National Standards to design opportunities for students to experience and explore culture in meaningful ways?
  • How might teachers guard against reinforcing stereotypes and prejudices when teaching culture?
  • How might teachers assist students in recognizing the diversity that exists within the target culture (i.e., avoid overgeneralizations)?


DotSubLogo.jpg (Annotated Dotsub captions for A Single Story)


Sicilian Discussion with Bisnonna

The Danger of a Single Story - Segment 1

The Danger of a Single Story - Segment 2 (Immigration, Mexicans, & the Power of a Repeated Story)

The Danger of a Single Story - Segment 3 (Of Flattened Experience, Stereotypes, & Incomplete Stories)


  • Activate Prior Knowledge & Experiences -Build on what students already know about their own culture to help them understand cultural ideas and practices that are new to them. Start locally and then build (i.e., self, families, communities, nations). Teach them that they have a culture (i.e., how would they respond to the idea of eating chicken soup on Thanksgiving?)
  • Allow the Culture to Speak for Itself -
    • Interaction/Participation - Provide students with multiple opportunities to interact with the target culture (through exposure to culturally authentic artifacts and materials, native speakers, opportunities to view and participate in culturally authentic practices, community events, etc.).
    • Evaluation - Assist students in evaluating the accuracy, authenticity, authority, credibility, and coverage of the cultural information they encounter.
    • Interpretation -Teach students to generate a variety of alternative hypotheses about the meaning of the cultural information they encounter and to base their final interpretations on sound reasoning and evidence (as opposed to emotional reactions or hearsay).

  • Avoid Stereotypes- Purposefully provide counterexamples to stereotypes and over-generalizations. Try to avoid absolutes (i.e. "All French people . . . ."), "othering" (objectifying the other culture or separating "US" from "THEM," often with the intent to criticize or pass value judgments), "exoticizing" (i.e., emphasizing only what grabs attention or will be perceived as strange or weird by students), "trivializing" (i.e., presenting only what is quaint or silly) or "political bias." You can "type" without "stereotyping."

  • Compare, Don't Just Contrast- Present both similarities and differences between the target culture and the dominant culture of your students (i.e., refrain from "othering" the target culture by emphasizing solely the differences).

  • Critically Evaluate Texts - Consider the cultural content (or lack thereof) embedded in the texts you choose to use
  • Elicit & Challenge Incomplete or Mistaken Information- Uncover students' mental models about culture by giving them opportunities to talk about their own culture. Address their misconceptions respectfully. Offer students multiple examples/representations of the phenomena under study so they can see the diversity that exists within the target culture. Be sure to address both "big C and little c" culture.

  • Embed Culture in EVERY Activity (See activity examples below)
  • Frame the Culture Positively - Encourage students to avoid value judgments (i.e., "different," not "better," "worse," "stupid," or "weird"). Speak about the culture as though a native speaker were standing in the room--honestly, openly, but respectfully.
  • Highlight Connections & Relationships - Focus on the relationships between products, practices, and perspectives in the target culture rather than considering each one separately and in isolation.
  • "Make the Familiar Strange" - Encourage students to examine their own culture from the perspective of an "outsider."
  • "Normalize" the Target Culture - Use culturally authentic images and materials on a regular basis. Try not to "frame" or "teach" the culture as something that needs to be separated or "pulled out" each time (from Deanna Mihalyi)
  • Prioritize Perspectives- Encourage students to examine how the beliefs, values, historical events, and physical conditions of the culture influence the logic behind what and how people do things.


Example: A vida politica (accompanying Weebly website with Vokis and campaign info.)


external image msword.png Cultural Text Brainstorming Web.doc
external image pdf.png Cultural Text Brainstorming Web.pdf
external image msword.png Cultural Text Lesson Plan Web.doc
external image pdf.png Cultural Text Lesson Plan Web.pdf
external image msword.png Cultural Investigation Project & Checklist.doc
external image pdf.png Cultural Investigation Project & Checklist.pdf
external image pdf.png Erin Barton Anderton Cultural Investigation Project.PDF

Culture (Choose ONE reading from the list below).

  • Taylor & Bateman, Ch. 11: Developing Cultural Proficiency (Read pages 243-248, skim the rest.)

  • I C? I see! Developing Learners’ Intercultural Competence - Excellent article that focuses on the “why” of teaching culture and offers practical suggestions for doing so. The term “intercultural competence” is becoming a buzzword in the profession, and standards are being developed to help teachers assess it, so it will be useful to you to read this.

  • Understanding & Assessing Intercultural Competence - Very interesting work that shares different ways to define and assess intercultural competence. If you choose this one, I would recommend that you spend time skimming the definitions after each italicized word, and spend time with the charts, graphs, and tables.

Answer the following questions in this discussion forum:

a) What are the 3 most important ideas from the readings you did?
b) What is one question you still have about your topic?
c) Respond to someone else's question.



Culture in Second Language Teaching - Very simple and to the point, but kind of leaves anyone who has spent much time around world languages going “Well, duh!”

Best Authentic Resources for World Language Teachers - Very practical list. Lacks theoretical depth and a lot of these are self-evident to me, but may be useful to you as new teachers.

Bateman, Blair E. (2004). Achieving affective and behavioral outcomes in culture learning: The case for ethnographic interviews. Foreign Language Annals, 37, 240-253. Retrieved September 1, 2008, from

Galloway, Vicki. (2001). Giving dimension to mappaemundi: The matter of perspective. In V. Galloway (Ed.), Teaching Cultures of the Hispanic World: Products and Practices in Perspective (pp. 3-63). Mason, OH: Thompson Learning Custom Publishing. (AATSP Professional Development Series Handbook, Vol. 4). (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, **Rooted in Culture Worksheets**) Retrieved September 1, 2008, from

Mantle-Bromley, Corinne. (1992). Preparing students for meaningful culture learning. Foreign Language Annals, 25, 117-127.

Mora, Pat. Listen to the desert/Oye al desierto interview. Google Videos. Describes how her books include the pieces of her experience that were missing in her own educational experiences and how important such connections are for bilingual children in order to motivate them to develop literacy skills in both languages

Phillips, Elaine. (2001). I C? I see! Developing Learners’ Intercultural Competence. Communiqué, 3.

Schultz, Renate A. The challenge of assessing cultural understanding in the context of foreign language instruction. Foreign Language Annals, 40(1), 9-26. Retrieved Sept. 1, 2008, from

Sinicrope, C., Norris, J., & Watanabe, Y. (n.d.). Understanding and assessing intercultural competence: A summary of theory, research, and practice.
Shedivy, Sandy. (2007, Spring). Lies my Spanish textbooks tell. Rethinking Schools, 21(3). Retrieved January 3, 2009, from

Taylor, James, & Luckau, Paul F. (1996/1986). Chapter 11 - Teach culture? I only have time to teach the language! Fundamentals of language teaching: What every Spanish teacher needs to know. Brigham Young University.


CultureConnection.jpg -
- An extensive, categorized wiki collection of cultural resources for Spanish teachers, organized by conceptual topics, grammar topics, media types, and vocabulary topics

AKidsTourOfLatinMusic.JPG - A Google Map with links to videos of both folk and popular music from Spanish-speaking countries around the world

Actiludes.JPG - Fantastic, didactic activities and free worksheets in Spanish for a variety of subject areas

AdsOfTheWorldLogo.jpg - Links to advertisements from around the world

AlienigenasNaAmericaLogo.png - A Ning community that contains links to a blog and podcasts re: Brazilians living in the U.S.

AudiriaLogo.gif - A collection of multimedia texts from a variety of different sources (movies, radio, songs, TV) that teachers can use as the basis for activities

BLAALogo.jpg - Extensive library of digital texts (including children's literature and museums) from Colombia

- A collection of links to newspapers, radio, and TV from countries around the world. You can filter them by country, language, topic, or type of media


CulturallyAuthenticPictorialLexiconLogo.png - A database of culturally authentic Creative Commons images, organized by language and topic

DotSubLogo.jpg - Searchable collection of videos in hundreds of languages from around the world. Choose the 100% option in order to get a subtitled version of the video. You can also select the "country" tab to find videos from a specific country.

FluencyProfLogo.png - Website containing links to cultural listening activities, myths, legends, and grammar/vocab.-oriented listening activities with easy, medium, or hard levels, transcripts, and cloze exercises available for the various texts

FullTextsOnlinePortugueseLogo.JPG - Links to poetry and short stories in Portuguese

FullTextsOnlineSpanishLogo.jpg- Very nice collection of Spanish & Latin American literature (navigation on the left)

GlencoeOnlineLogo.gif - Culture-based websites in Spanish

GlossLogo.jpg - Searchable database of language maintenance/proficiency development lessons (reading and listening) in a wide variety of languages. Allows you to limit the search to video-based lessons. Click on the individual links to launch the lesson modules

InternationalChildrensDigitalLibraryLogo.gif- Children's picture books online - search for your language

InfografiasEnCastellanoLogo.JPG - A site containing a host of infographics on topics like health and social issues

KennedyCenterLogo.gif - Check out CDs of music, content materials, culture kits, flags, and/or maps from the Outreach Resource Library at BYU's Kennedy Center for free. The Center can also help you schedule free presentations for your classroom regarding specific countries. You may also wish to explore their CultureGuides--conuntry-specific teaching units for both elementary and secondary classes

LanicLogo.jpg - Latin American Network Information Center - Extensive list of texts in Spanish & Portuguese (organized by country)

Legends&FolktalesLogo.jpg- Interactive map with legends and folktales from around the world--many available in different languages

MaterialesLogo.jpg - Magazine produced by the Embassy of Spain (also available through the Spanish Resource Center)

MuyInteresanteLogo.gif- Brief tidbits about various current events and interesting stories in the news (also available from Spain)

NewseumLogo.jpg - Today's front pages from newspapers around the world

OpenCultureLogo.jpg- List of audio courses and podcasts in a variety of languages, including Spanish & Portuguese

QuinoLogo.jpg - Site in Argentina containing Quino comics & Mafalda videos

RealiaProjectLogo.jpgSearchable database with links to faculty-reviewed, culturally authentic images, media, and materials from multiple countries

SpanishLanguage&CultureLogo.gif - Excellent grammar practice activities based on culturally authentic multimedia materials

UniversityLibrariesAlbanyLogo.gif - Extensive list of resources for Spanish literature and linguistics

VoiceOfTheShuttleLogo.gif - Links to sites related to literature in Spanish & Portuguese

VozYVideoEnPoesiaIberoamericana.jpg - Library of poetry in Spanish read aloud by the authors (or by others)

YouTubeLogo.jpg..EDU - Search for educational videos in Spanish

ZambombazoLogo.png - Blog by Zachary Jones with links to materials in Spanish that reflect popular culture