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How to Learn About a New Culture During Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month is already in full swing in the United States, lasting from September 15 to October 15 annually. We are proud to celebrate alongside our Hispanic ambassador teachers who come from 14 Spanish-speaking countries around the world, as well as with the people from our local Hispanic communities in our partner districts.

This month provides a special opportunity and call-to-action to learn more about the rich diversity of Hispanic culture globally and to uplift the Hispanic students in our classrooms, too. Culture gives our lives color and character, and it is an exciting way to foster curiosity about the world in students as they develop into empathetic global leaders. It is our responsibility as educators to ensure that teaching about different cultures is done in a respectful and authentic way.

In order to fully appreciate a different culture, it is important to dig deeper and find out why certain traditions and customs are meaningful to the people in that culture. First, watch this video to learn more about how to appreciate a culture that’s different from your own, and then read on to discover how you can use these tips this Hispanic Heritage Month.

1. Read books written by authors of different cultures.

Using literature in the classroom can be a great way to explore cultural differences by understanding a firsthand perspective of someone who is from that culture. Hispanic culture is vast, with more than 20 countries worldwide speaking Spanish, so try to find a wide selection of books to incorporate into your lessons that showcase differences.

Consider dedicating a few days to taking a deep dive into books from one country or region, and have students spend some time comparing and contrasting themes from the stories they are hearing. Tying these stories to reflection activities or projects can be a great way to stimulate conversation and deepen students’ understanding of the intricacies of each culture they learn about.

2. Watch popular movies, TV shows, or news channels.

Using entertaining or informative media to showcase certain cultures is an engaging option for learning about another culture in depth. Have students consider the ways in which these culture-showcasing movies or TV shows differ from the ones they are used to in themes, characters, dialogues, and settings, and reflect on how these differences relate back to the target cultures.

News in the United States often focuses heavily on domestic issues or offers only a glimpse at more global news stories, which can skew the way students view other countries. Find some clips of news channels in Spanish-speaking countries, and show students examples of stories that their local news stories might relate to. This helps students begin to understand that their peers in these countries are not as different from them as they might have previously thought.

3. Get to know people from different cultures.

This tip is the most important one, and it really is as simple as that. Listening to and forming relationships with people from various Hispanic cultures helps us to immerse ourselves in what we are learning in a more full and authentic way while providing much-needed context. As humans, we naturally categorize things in our heads, which can often oversimplify what we are learning about.

Building connections with people from other cultures helps us to go beyond our previously conceived notions about stories, images, and stereotypes. Invite members of your community to share their cultures with the class, or set up a virtual cultural exchange with students in a Spanish-speaking country. Encourage your students to actively listen and ask questions so that they can get the most out of this unique opportunity.

 

For more information on how you can implement this month-long cultural celebration in your classroom, check out this blog post for ideas on educational activities. How are you appreciating cultural diversity during Hispanic Heritage Month? Let us know by tagging us on Twitter at @ParticipateLrng, or by using the hashtag #unitingourworld.