Geography and Culture

Teaching geography is sometimes on of the more difficult concepts to convey to students. We hate to simply have students memorize a map, label cities, rivers, and borders and call that a culture lesson, but sometimes that is all that we have the time to do. Based some readings in cultural studies, many teachers are turning to the expert approach to teaching about places in a particular region.

Screen Shot 2013-04-13 at 8.45.10 AMIn this type of activity, each student is responsible for becoming the expert on a particular place (city, town, neighborhood) and can present this information to others in the class. What usually happens is that students find cultural pieces of interest in what the other students have learned and will often inquire further. For younger students it is helpful to have students ask each other about their “expertise” and have questions to be answered.

For more advanced levels, students can be responsible (in the target language) for more historical aspects of a particular place and can even begin to do some research on social structures or issues. This information generally available on line in publications that are written in the target language countries. For example, illiteracy rates or public assistance may be appropriate for high school or college students, whereas important buildings and neighboring towns/cities would be a better option for elementary and middle school students.

Ultimately, the goal in teaching geography in a foreign language classroom should include awareness of the people that create and live the culture associated with it, rather than just a series of dots on a map.

2 responses to “Geography and Culture

  1. At my state conference I went to a session about using Google Earth to help,with this. Students can learn geography of a place with cultural cues. Groups could do different cities. Check out my post about it here I thought it was an awesome idea and there are so many ways to incorporate it. Let me know what you think!

    • Hello,

      I just read your post and it is very interesting. I particularly like the idea of having students pick and actual location to live and work. Very authentic.

      Thank you for sharing.

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