Cultura lends itself well to a large number of large scale written and oral assignments. Here are some suggestions.
Depending on the level of the class in which you use Cultura, it is a good idea to have students write two or three major essays in the the target language throughout the semester in order to allow them to synthesize their newly found knowledge.
After students have worked on the questionnaires, ask them to:
- Pick a theme/topic/notion that seems to them central to the culture they are studying from having worked with the materials so far. They should avoid choosing a theme based on any word from the list of questionnaire prompts.
- Write in what different contexts they saw this theme emerge.
- Say whether it may be contradicted in other contexts.
- Formulate a hypothesis as to the importance of that notion in the other culture. Students need to review the materials studied so far.
End of semester essay
Have students write about what they have learned by using Cultura:
about French culture
about their own culture
has their perspective changed? in what way? Tell them to be as specific as possible.
This paper should not be a rehash of the first one.
End of semester oral projects
It is a good idea to have students work in teams for projects at the end of the semester, so that they can transfer their newly found interpretive skills on other types of materials. Students should be encouraged to highlight parallels or differences between what they see in these new materials and what they have discovered so far in exploring other types of materials.
Here are some suggestions.
Using the Film module
Students compare an original film and its remake.
Using the Newsstand module
Students can compare headlines, for a day or a week, of a national newspaper from each country: What is talked about? What is not talked about? They may also select a story covered by newspapers from both countries and compare them: What is mentioned? What is not mentioned? Is there an embedded point of view? Alternatively, students can compare newspaper and magazine forums from both countries and see what topics are debated, see what points of view are presented, compare how people from both cultures react to the same topic, or analyze the style of discourse.
Using other sites
Students can compare, for instance, the Web sites of similar government agencies from each country or advertisements in comparable magazines from each country. What information is presented and how?
Students can also select their own topic of comparison and explore a theme that is related to a field they are specializing in (they will need to find comparable sites).
Encourage students to draw parallels between the cultural differences they see in the new materials or their choosing and differences they noticed when using Cultura materials.
Throughout a Cultura exchange, students are involved in the process of discovering the foreign culture. It is therefore particularly apt to ask them to keep a log of what they find, the questions they pose themselves, and the answers they receive.
Such a journal can be filled by students every day or every week. The goal is for them to keep a regular log of what they have learned and discovered so that they can reflect upon their own evolution as intercultural learners.