Cultural Competence in the ELE classroom

competencia cultural

Cultural Competence in the ELE classroom

competencia cultural

Do your students have clashes with Spanish culture? Do they live in families and complain because they insist to eat too much?

My name is Lucia Largo, I am a psychologist and I am very interested in the acquisition of intercultural competence in learning Spanish.

In my family we have always been travelers: as a child were in many countries and lived for a while in the United States. Since then he awoke in me the adventurous spirit and began to travel, live and work in other countries such as Argentina, Morocco and until a month ago in a Japanese ship that went around the world (“Barco de la Paz”).

Understanding the human mind and how culture and language construct our social reality, affecting our behavior seems an exciting task. I have lived in my own flesh what it means to adapt to other cultures (the last of the Japanese) and while trying experienced many peaks and valleys. Therefore, I think you get to understand a little better the culture of the language being learnt is necessary and enriching. Now I teach workshops to facilitate the acquisition of the Spanish cultural competence to foreign students in TANDEM school.

competencia cultural 2
The classroom of ELE (Spanish as a foreign language) is the ideal place to develop this skill. I think the cultural competence goes hand learning the language: it is so important to learn colloquial phrases and understand how social context are used and how sense. For example, it is also important to explain why a Spanish may become angry when to get the bill at a restaurant, while the foreign student insists calculator parting with their share of the bill.

competencia cultural 3 I leave here with two simple dynamic cultural competence to work. The first recommended by a friend who is professor of ELE, Alicia Romero, and it is as simple as organize them in a group, looking at each other and ask them to tell their peers their experiences using this phrase: “The strangest thing happened to me in Spain it is … “. In this way, we will favor group cohesion and reflection on cultural misunderstandings. It seems important to also try to find solutions to all these situations so that students are not left in the complaint.

The second is to work non-verbal language, and physical contact, which depending on what cultures come will find it more or less difficult (to Americans and Japanese have a harder, for example). The activity would be to try to include acts of physical contact, while representing a situation as encouraging someone who is struggling, greet a friend who spent some time without seeing, etc.

I’d love to read your comments about the experiences of culturall shock that your students bring to class.

Thank you very much to all!

This article is also available in Spanish.

NEW! We created a Workshop on Intercultural Competence to help students to acquire a better understanding of Spanish culture and adapting to their stay in Spain.

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