Learning a new language inevitably gives you a taste of culture. In my classes I attempt to integrate culture in different ways. Displaying an object for example. I combined Google Earth to show my students the monument to the Equator located in Ecuador, but first I placed a small wooden replica of it on a desk for students to look at it and discuss what they thought it was - fun and very creative ideas came up! With audio, the sound of a "charango" or a "quena" may lead us to talk about music instruments in the Andes and/or life in the Andes. The image in this blog is part of a short powerpoint presentation about the celebration of Carnival in South America and around the world. It is a picture of the well known "Diablada de Oruro" in Boliva. This is presented in context with other images as examples of how Carnival is celebrated around the world. Because the image is beautiful and it allows a variety of activities; I can ask my students to brainstorm on what they see; describe the costumes, research on what is the Diablada, or compare it to other forms of Carnival celebrations around the world. Images in a language class open broad opportunities to practice any skill.It takes time to look for and find the right one; but once you have it; the time was worth it.
As I am taking the courses in our program and applying technology in my class, I have to admit it has brought the best and worst out of me. Applying technology in education does not only require an extensive amount of time to search the right tool and then implement it; but it also demands flexibility when it does not work and you need a "plan B."
On the other hand; when technology works smoothly it highlights learning and offers variety; it brings originality and ownership to students. It has allowed my students the option to show what they can do with language - with tools that make sense to them.
Skype, chat rooms, audacity, voicethread, Google Earth are some tools that have great value in a language class. We have had virtual tours, chatted in Spanish, collaborated with other teachers and students in different countries! These tools have transported my teaching outside the classroom in a valuable way giving my students an opportunity to experience real Spanish despite being in Asia.