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Raising Cultural Awareness in the Primary Classroom Viv Lambert

Activity Ideas Things in common Use this activity as a warm up to get children to think about who they are and in what ways they are similar to or different from others. Use it to revise whichever structures you choose. In pairs, ask the children to find five things that they have in common with their friend (or five ways in which they are the same) by asking each other simple questions, eg Whens your birthday? Do you like pizza? Have you got a dog? Ask pairs to feed back to the class, eg, (We are the same because) our birthdays are in January, we (both) have a dog, we (both) have one brother etc. As an extension activity, ask them to find out one thing that is completely unique or special about themselves and to tell the class, eg, I am special because I wear glasses. Colourful fish Give each child the outline of a fish on a piece of paper. Ask them to colour the fish, or give them coloured paper to cut up and make a colourful fish of their own design. Ask children to describe their fish and talk about the differences between the fish, eg My fish is yellow. Your fish is red. Has your fish got a blue tail? Stick the fish onto a poster background showing an aquarium scene to make a collective collage. Discuss how interesting the collage is with so many different varieties of fish swimming in the water. Categories Divide the class into groups of 4 or 5 children. Give each group several photos of children from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. Ask them to describe the children using the language you want them to practise, eg adjectives of appearance, Whats he/she wearing? What are they doing? Whats the weather like? etc . Then ask children to sort the photos into categories. They can choose the categories themselves, or if they need guidance, ask them to sort them according to appearance, clothes, weather, etc. Ask each group to show the class how they have sorted the photos and why. They may come up with lots of different suggestions, eg, These children are wearing school uniform, these are not; these are rich, these are poor; these are playing, those are going to school. Suggest that despite all the differences they have just expressed, everybody in the photos also shares many things and has the same needs, eg, They are all happy, they all have friends, they all need food, etc. Make a passport Make passports as part of a Global Citizens project. Photocopy the outside of your own passport to use as a realistic cover. Prepare inside pages with a space for a photo and simple headings such as: name, age, nationality, date of birth, colour of eyes. Practise the questions they need to know in order to fill in their details eg. Whats your name? How old are you? Where do you live? Whens your birthday? etc. Children can put their photos in their passports and complete them with their personal details.

Festival activities Look in coursebooks and resource books for activity ideas that relate to festivals and special days and use them at the relevant time of year. Encourage children to explore their own customs (What do they eat on this special day? What do they wear? What do they do?) and to find out about the festivals celebrated by children from other cultures. Coursebook activities Use the activities in Primary coursebooks as an opportunity to get children to explore their own cultures from the point of view of food, clothes, weather, daily routines, etc. Once they have thought about these topics in relation to their own lives, remind them that people from other countries and cultures may have different habits and lifestyles. Authentic materials When possible, use authentic materials from English-speaking countries, such as nursery rhymes, songs and real books, videos and magazines to expose children to different cultural influences. Before the holidays, find out if children are going away within your country or abroad and ask them to bring back souvenirs from any travels they do.

CLIL Projects Most coursebooks now include CLIL materials (Content and Language Integrated Learning) These CLIL topics provide an ideal way into culturerelated topics, such as famous people from around the world, art and literature. Visit the website: You can create your own projects using carefully selected English websites for projects, eg, World weather. In this project, children think of a city they would like to visit. They locate it on a world map and use the Internet to research the weather conditions there. Use it to practise Whats the weather like (in Paris)? Its hot. Its cloudy, etc. Weather websites are an ideal source as the information is presented in such a visually accessible way. Direct communication with people from other cultures Take the opportunity whenever possible to invite visitors from different cultural backgrounds into the classroom to talk to the children. Go to -Gateway and set up a link with a partner school so that children can communicate in English directly with children from other countries.