As cultural exchange teachers, you play an active, important role in your students’ lives as ambassadors of your culture and heritage. The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to revitalize a space in your classroom that can introduce your home country to students. Read on for four tips on creating and utilizing a culture corner in your classroom.
1. Proudly display your flag and maps.
Your classroom culture corner should be a reflection of who you are and where you come from. At the most basic level, be sure to include elements like the national flag, a country map, images of famous people, food, festivals, and typical dress. Do you have photos from a visit to a national landmark? Print copies and hang them on the bulletin board! Including photos from your home country will help students contextualize the environment and make sense of the world around them.
Since you may not have space to include all of these elements at once, consider changing out sections of your culture corner periodically. Will you feature a new famous person each month? Highlighting a different food or festival each season can spark new conversations and keep students’ interest.
2. Make use of tangible artifacts and realia.
In addition to visual elements like maps and photos, try to incorporate tangible artifacts and realia into your culture corner display. Consider the age of your students and what elements will be most attractive to them and hold their attention. Choose items that can be interacted with, that tell a story, or that can be easily compared with common items students see on a daily basis.
Is there a musical instrument you could display that represents music from your home country? Engage students’ senses by introducing the instrument and playing a song for them that will let them hear the instrument in action. If you are teaching in a language classroom, include realia like food wrappers, newspaper clippings, or road signs that have writing in the target language to help students become more comfortable with seeing unfamiliar words.
3. Include themes that speak to your country’s cultural values.
Facilitate deeper learning for your students by creating a culture corner that speaks to your country’s cultural values. Values help define a society or culture by suggesting what is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, sought or avoided. Are there photos or images that represent key historical moments from your country that you can use to help explain a deeply held belief or cultural value from home?
Adding elements that can inspire conversation about what makes your country unique can help tell a story of who you are and where you come from. Naturally curious, your students will enjoy exploring the “why” behind cultural elements on display in your culture corner.
4. Establish your culture corner as a place for dynamic learning.
Now that you have put together your culture corner with photos and artifacts that represent your culture and values, don’t let your hard work go to waste! Your culture corner should be dynamic and complement units of study whenever possible. As you and your students get to know each other, you may discover there are words from home that your students are unfamiliar with. Elevate the learning by creating a running list of those new words (and their American English equivalents) to which students can refer.
Your culture corner can also be a reference point as you review lessons and make comparisons and connections to deeper learning. No matter where you’re from, we hope that your culture corner will be ever evolving and can serve as a visual representation of the global learning happening in your classroom.
Participate Learning is committed to uniting our world through global education, and our ambassador teachers play a vital role in changing students’ lives and introducing them to new perspectives. The more knowledgeable children become about the world and its cultures, languages, and people, the more prepared they will be to lead and thrive in our interconnected world. Explore our top resources for global educators here.