Incorporating Cultural Content in the Language Classroom

Many language instructors enter the classroom for the first time without knowledge of language acquisition principles. They are often asked to design their classes based on a textbook that doesn’t speak to students’ experiences and fails to appeal directly to them. New instructors often feel pressured to teach following a grammar-oriented approach that seems to leave little room for practical language skills.

These issues and others have emerged as part of a year-long inquiry into the challenges of teaching languages at CUNY facilitated by the Teaching and Learning Center. Join participants in our Focused Inquiry Group to discuss strategies for balancing grammatical and cultural content to create engaging language learning environments. We will examine different source materials, from textbooks to movies, music videos and Open Educational Resources (OER), and will offer concrete ideas on how to adapt these materials to the needs of various classes. We’ll explore selected language acquisition frameworks, such as Task-based learning and Implicit vs. Explicit Knowledge, that can allow faculty to use culturally relevant content while meeting class goals. Participants are invited to bring any instructional materials that they use. All language instructors are welcome.

This workshop was offered in Spring 2019 as an in-person workshop at the Graduate Center, CUNY. The workshop and materials were developed by Joanna Birnbaum, José Chavarry, Luis Henao-Uribe, Michael E. Rolland, Inés Vañó García.


All materials on this page and in the linked google folder are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 4.0 International Public License.

This folder contains outreach materials, workshop plans, and resources.

Materials Folder: Incorporating Cultural Content in the Language Classroom Workshop

Workshop Plan

4:00 – 4:15 (15 min.)

  • Intro: Brainstorming – Think (3min) / Pair ( 2 min) / Share (8 min)
  • Why are we here?  (Concerns):  low-stakes (things that we can control) & higher stakes objectives (out of our control)
  • What is T/P/S? [Meta: The workshop aims to model some pedagogical strategies]

4:15 – 4:40 (25 min.)

  • What is Implicit vs Explicit Knowledge? [Cultural relevant content]
  • Guidelines to select movies / videos / magazines / literary texts.

4:40 – 5:05 (25 min.)

  • Task-Based Language Teaching. [Scaffolding]
  • Hacking the textbook. Strategies to use the textbook to design Task-Based exercises.

5:05 – 5:30 (25 min.) – OERs

  • How to find OERs. [Exit tickets]
  • Limitations and possibilities. Showcasing two models.

5:30 – 6:00 (30 min.)

  • Create a Task-based culminating assignment using different source materials