Happy Halloween and why knowing about other cultures is good for you


Dress: H&M, Boots: Dansi (Both from previous seasons)

One of the many things I love as a foreign language teacher is bringing different cultures closer to my pupils. The coming few weeks are great ones for teaching British and American culture. Next week is Halloween and in November I can choose between Bonfire Night, Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving, or simply do all of them. Since Halloween is not really celebrated in Switzerland I will wear this pretty subtle halloween dress to school on the 31st of October. 

Don’t you just love this dress for the occasion? My pupils certainly do! They think it is a real fun one. And fun is a key element in teaching, whatever the subject.

Why knowing about different cultures is good for you

There are some very good reasons (apart from the fun factor) to include culture when teaching foreign languages. The very same reasons apply to all of us. Have a look for yourself.

1.  You become a better communicator.

The ultimate goal of learning a foreign language is that you can communicate in this language. First of all, you need a basic vocabulary of course. Since you communicate with so much more than just the words you use,  you can communicate even better if you do understand something about the other culture. You can find a good example at the end of this blogpost.

2. You stimulate your mind, because you will be forced to think in new ways.

Learning about other cultures is an interesting way to challenge your thought processes and to expand the way you process information. You will realise again and again that there is more than one way to do things or to look at things. Like Marcel Proust, the French novelist, observed: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”

3. You will better understand other people.

Learning about other cultures also stimulates mutual understanding, something I think is very valuable in today’s world.

In the classroom I use stories, songs and often food to teach my pupils about foreign cultures. Sometimes I even use clothes, as you have seen in this blogpost. In my private life I regularly travel to different places to explore other cultures, like written about here: Berlin’s Buddy Bears and the East Side Gallery: two positive projects

In case you prefer romantic roses over Halloween to understand the value of knowing other cultures: check out the video at the end of this blogpost.

Happy Halloween for those of you who celebrate it!

Love, Lieske

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