An approach to the culture of the English speaking countries through the teaching of English to elementary school students

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(1)UNIVERSITY OF PEDAGOGICAL SCIENCES “FÉLIX VARELA MORALES” VILLA CLARA. Department of Foreign Languages. MAJOR PAPER. Title: An approach to the culture of the English speaking countries through the teaching of English to elementary school students.. Author: Santiago Frank Cabrera Pérez. Adviser: B.A. Guillermo Godoy Becerra. Consultant: PhD. Diana Estela Pérez Chávez. June 2012.

(2) “He. who does not know foreign languages, knows nothing about his own” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. “(...) the teaching of culture should become an integral part of foreign language instruction. Culture should be our message to students and language our medium” Deborah Peck. 2.

(3) ABSTRACT Cabrera Pérez, Santiago Frank.. An approach to the culture of the English. speaking countries through the teaching of English to elementary school students. Adviser: B.A. Guillermo Godoy Becerra The present research came out with the purpose of solving a problematic situation caused by the disregard of the potentials offered by the use of an approach to the culture of the English speaking countries in the teaching of the English language to elementary school students. The application of different methods of investigation from the theoretical, empirical and mathematical levels allowed the determination of the theoretical foundations of the research, the assessment of the necessities to meet, and the formulation of the proposal. It come up in the form of a Set of Complementary Didactic Resources whose objective is to facilitate an approach to the culture of the English speaking countries in an interesting, dynamic and motivating way. The specialists consulted gave positive opinions regarding the quality and pertinence of the proposal, and the partial application of the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources in the educative practice proved to be effective among the learners and the educational personnel. Particularly, the impact among the students was very positive, because it opened for them a new universe for knowledge and exchange.. 3.

(4) TABLE OF CONTENTS. Introduction. .................................................................................................. 4. Development ..................................................................................................10 1- Theoretical foundation …………………………………………………………….10 1.1- The teaching of English and its relationship with the culture of the English speaking countries.........................................................10 1.2- Potentialities of the English subject to facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries………...................................................... 1.3- Didactic resources: A useful way to achieve success………………………..14 2- Diagnosis and assessment of needs……………………………………………..17 2.1- Analysis of the results…...............................................................................18 2.2- Presentation of the proposal.........................................................................23 2.3- Evaluation through specialists´ criteria…………………………………………28 2.4- Results obtained during the partial application of the Set of Complementary Resources in the educational practice …………………….30 2.5- Analysis of the results…………………………………………………………….33 Conclusions........................................................................................................34 Recommendations..............................................................................................35 Bibliography....................................................................................................... 36 Annexes................................................................................................................41. 4.

(5) INTRODUCTION The beginning of the 21st century finds the world in an interesting and controversial linguistic situation, a "true intellectual boiling pot" in the words of the French linguist Patrick Charaudeau: On the one hand, the national and minority languages, saved by the great effort of the native population in their vehement search for what is legitimate and unique; working unfailingly on the rescue and the preservation of their structures, linguistic and semantic functions, causing in some occasions a communicational isolation. On the other hand, the so-called “international languages", chaotically diffused in an overly “informed” world, lacking structure and personality and gradually coming undone. They are losing their cultural wealth as victims of the same process of cultural imposition that transformed them into lingua francas.. In the specific case of the English Language, important factors like, the heterogeneity of the geographical and demographic circumstances of their use and reach, and the lack of regulatory academic structures to register, preserve and modify its use and perspectives, accelerate the gradual and continuous loss of the content and message that, as a cultural channel, the language exerts on its speakers.. Clyfford Fyle, in his article The language, support of a cultural identity, states that “(...) the grammar, the proverbs and the idioms of a language allow us, more than any other factor, to understand the way of thinking and feeling of those who have it as their mother tongue. The vocabulary of a language comprises all the objects, actions and ideas that affect those who speak it (…) The literature of a language gathers the best experiences and sensations known by those who have spoken it along the years; as a result, a language ends up being the expression of the personality of the group, a means of identification with regard to its culture. Thus, when we say "I am Italian", "I am. 5.

(6) Yoruba" or "I am Hindu", we identify ourselves as members of a certain cultural group that is expressed in a certain language.". Confronted with this complex paradox, how does language teaching operate in our country? Does this process constitute a true approach to the ancient and rich tradition that gave birth to the English language? Is the historical background of the English language and culture known in our context?. Looking for answers to these queries and keeping in mind the deep interest of the Revolution in the formation of an integral general culture of the Cuban people, the research about this theme was begun, and it was focused on the Second Cycle of Primary School, where, for the first time, children interact with a language in a carefully planned way.. One of the main purposes of the teaching of this language should be guided to the enrichment of the student's cultural profile. However, through different exchanges with the students, through observations to the English lessons, and through the analysis of documents that prescribe this work, it could be established that:. • The syllabus of the subject does include the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries, but there are no activities or exercises planned for this matter whatsoever. • There is no evidence of interest, on the part of the teachers, to include aspects related with this theme in their classes. • The school materials used by students and teachers are outdated in many aspects and they do not include in their contents the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries. • Consequently, classes lack enough motivation for an appropriate learning of the English language.. These limitations led the author of the present paper to outline the following scientific problem:. 6.

(7) • How to contribute to the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries of 5th graders of elementary school through the English subject?. Defining as the object of investigation:. • The development of integral general culture of elementary school students.. And as general objective:. • To propose a set of Complementary Didactic Resources (RDC in Spanish) aimed at achieving an approach to the culture of the English speaking countries of 5th grade students through the English subject.. To fulfill this objective the following scientific questions are enunciated:. • What theoretical-methodological foundations sustain the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries in the English subject? • What is the current state of the teaching of the English subject in the elementary school that might facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries of 5th grade students? • What structural elements and contents should a set of Complementary Didactic Resources possess in order to facilitate an approach to the culture of the English speaking countries of 5to grade students through the English subject? • What criteria are expressed by the consulted specialists about the quality and pertinence of the proposal presented? • What results are obtained at the time of partial application of the designed set of Complementary Didactic Resources in the educative practice?. The answers to these queries led the authors to outline the following scientific tasks:. 7.

(8) • Determination of the theoretical-methodological foundations that sustain the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries in the English subject in elementary school. • Determination of the current state of the teaching of English in elementary school to uphold the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries. • Creation of a set of Complementary Didactic Resources aimed at facilitating an approach to the culture of the English speaking countries of 5th grade students through the English subject. • Assessment of the designed proposal through the specialists´ criteria. • Partial application of the set of Complementary Didactic Resources to the educative practice.. During the research the following methods were used:. From the theoretical level: • Analytic-synthetic: It was used for the analyses of the information that makes up the theoretical foundation, the interpretation of the data obtained in the diagnosis and the arrival at conclusions and recommendations. • Inductive-deductive: It allowed the assessment of regularities during the diagnosis and the assessment of needs to sustain the proposed solution to the scientific problem.. From the empirical level: •. Analysis of documents: Applied to the different documents, syllabuses and class plans to verify the treatment given to the theme of the research.. •. Observation: Applied to 5th grade lessons of English to verify the existence of aspects and activities aimed at facilitating the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries. It was applied before, during and after the application of the proposal.. •. Consultation with specialists: Took place through a poll applied to specialists in the topic with the objective of assessing the quality and pertinence of the proposal presented.. 8.

(9) •. Individual interviews: Applied to the English teachers with the objective of verifying their level of knowledge on the culture of the English speaking countries, and their inclination to introduce aspects that favor the approach to these topics in their lessons.. •. Initial collective interviews: Applied to the students to verify their level of interest and motivation to the topics under research.. •. Final collective interview: Applied to check the level of interest and motivation of the students after the application of the proposal.. From the mathematical level •. Percentage analysis: Applied to process the obtained results in the application of the different instruments and to make the necessary comparative analyses.. To check the results of the research, a partial application in the educational practice was carried out, which included verifications before, during and after the application. The data obtained through these verifications allowed a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the effectiveness of the designed proposal. The 5th grade class of Primary School “Juan Carlos Rodríguez Rodríguez” from Santa Clara was taken as the sample for the present paper. The selection of the sample was done following a non-probabilistic intentional criterion. It was composed of 20 students, 10 boys, and 10 girls. The scientific novelty of the investigation lies in the innovative approach to the teaching of English aimed at enriching the cultural background of the 5th grade students of Primary School, starting from the use of didactic resources according to the characteristics of their age. The selection of contents, and the imagery of the didactic resources at the disposal of the transmission of knowledge in a dynamic, purposeful and highly interactive way, allow the students to perceive the teaching-learning process of the new language not only as the acquisition on a new system of codes and symbols for communication, but as a new way to feel and understand the reality of another culture. The contribution of the paper is summed up in the set of complementary didactic resources that offers the educational institution as a way to facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries through the English. 9.

(10) subject, which will contribute to the motivation of the students to these contents, and the enrichment of their cultural profile, allowing them to perceive the learning of a foreign language in a new and more complete way.. 10.

(11) DEVELOPMENT. 1- Theoretical foundations. 1.1- The teaching of English and its relationship with the culture of the English speaking countries.. What is the prime objective of the learner who strives for competence in a foreign language?. Fluent use of communicative functions and grammatical structures, fairly ample vocabulary, and adequate pronunciation and prosodic patterns – rhythm, intonation and stress – seem to be generally accepted as sufficient for a second/foreign language learner. Nonetheless, when confronted with a native speaking environment, the language learner who has attained the above mentioned characteristics will find that, despite the fact that he masters all the linguistic elements, probably close to perfection; he cannot totally “fit” in such an environment, since there is a whole parallel system of signs, either verbal or non-verbal, that are the direct outcome of the cultural factor, of which languages are the direct result. The above mentioned linguist, Patrick Charadeau, in his article “Learning a foreign language” (1983) states:. “(...) in the particular case of the foreign language teaching, the most important thing is probably the understanding of the intercultural factor. Only this can definitely carry out the rupture with the universalistic conception of the language teaching. (…) The following idea is paving its way: what is essential for the student is the learning of the foreign culture, and indirectly, in the learning of his own, and through the 'cultural clash' the knowledge of himself begins. Under these conditions, the teaching of a foreign language would be, above all, an opportunity to become aware of the differences between diverse systems and socio-cultural images.”. 11.

(12) In her wide-ranging study Teaching culture beyond language, Professor Deborah Peck (2010) shows the importance of the cultural factor in the teaching-learning process:. “Of what value is culture to second language learning? For the foreign language teacher, the reasons are many. Culture shapes our view of the world. And language is the most representative element in any culture. Any item of behavior, tradition or pattern can only be understood in the light of its meaning to the people who practice it. “. This revealing research illustrates various aspects of the vital importance of the knowledge of the culture of the target language for its full appreciation, and the development of values such as, mutual respect, and understanding among peoples, especially in the cosmopolitan structure of the intercultural relations of today’s world.. Another interesting study on the relationship between foreign language teaching and culture was conducted by Professor Dimitrios Thanasoulas under the title The importance of teaching culture in the foreign language classroom:. “At any rate, foreign language learning is foreign culture learning, and, in one form or another, culture has, even implicitly, been taught in the foreign language classroom – if for different reasons. What is debatable, though, is what is meant by the term culture and how the latter is integrated into language learning and teaching”.. Kramsch’s keen observation should not go unnoticed:. “Culture in language learning is not an expendable fifth skill, tacked on, so to speak, to the teaching of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. It is always in the background, right from day one, ready to unsettle the good language learners when they expect it least, making evident the limitations of their hard won communicative competence,. 12.

(13) challenging their ability to make sense of the world around them”. (Kramsch, 1993: 1).. Nowadays, the possibility of giving a much more active role to the cultural constituent in the teaching of foreign languages is a subject of debate; however, the attempts under way have faced many obstacles, one of the greatest is the wide variety of publications destined to the teaching of English, which are the upshot of the so-called “free enterprise” prevailing in the capitalist world. Nevertheless, publishing houses like New Headway Intermediate (Soars and Soars, 1996) have great potentials for the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries, especially to the United Kingdom, as it is revealed by Barócsiné Sztefka in his paper A case study on the teaching of culture in a foreign language (2002).. The growing importance of the intercultural aspect in the teaching of foreign languages has been corroborated all through the bulk of the bibliography consulted, not only as a useful tool to entice the students´ motivation, but as an essential educational element as well.. The relatively new inclusion of a foreign language into the Primary School curriculum is a good opportunity to facilitate the approach of the Cuban students to this new multicultural reality from the early stages of their development.. 1.2- Potentialities of the English subject to facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries.. The second cycle (5th and 6th grades) of Primary School in the Cuban educational system is an important stage in the children’s cognitive and psychological development. They have overcome their basic learning stages, and then, they begin to interact with more complex subjects which will help them form their conception about the world around them.. 13.

(14) One of the subjects which has a significant impact on the students during this process is English, probably because it leads them into a system that until then was not very well defined in their perception, and now it turns into a new reality, a whole new set of forms of communication belonging to a seemingly far away universe, and as everything that is new, it is appealing and exciting for the majority.. It is at that moment, when their awareness of the world is still vague and incomplete, that this subject has its greatest potentials for the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries, not only in the knowledge of places and thought of these peoples, but in the development of the children’s values of understanding, respect, and dignity; because in the future, as they will be exposed to a cultural influence which is every time less and less naïve, it will be more difficult to form these values in them. It is precisely at this moment when the inevitable “cultural clash” can be guided with more effectiveness toward the best features of the humankind, toward the most altruistic values, and to the most progressive conceptions these peoples possess and have demonstrated for centuries. It is just at this stage when the teacher will have the opportunity to prevent the mass of children from the “hypnotism” and prejudices that the imperialist mass media, so overwhelmingly powerful, try to impose in the world.. This is not the only possibility of the subject for the previously mentioned approach; the mere arrangement of the subject, as well as the communicative functions studied during the course, constitute excellent bases for the design of activities whose communicative purpose lead to the desired objective.. By the same token, English lessons can be oriented toward this aim, showing its possibilities to develop linguistic competence, and making the classroom a place where interaction and debates take place, and children can develop their abilities to analyze and discuss about these issues. The approach to the culture of the English speaking countries can be carried out in this subject beyond the curriculum, fulfilling the principle that the school is the palace of the pioneers, and also the axis around which the cultural movement of the community turns with exhibits, contests, games, and many 14.

(15) other forms of cultural and artistic expressions which can attract the children through an entertaining, dynamic, and yet a far-reaching and reflective way, to the new academic reality which is the learning of a foreign language.. The role of the teacher of English would be enhanced, from the position of a mere transmitter of knowledge to a genuine cultural agent, much more active in the all-around education of the students. At the same time, this interaction will contribute to his steady preparation in order to cope with the demands posed by the students´ educational needs.. Without a doubt, the teaching of English is going through a process of transformation to a new cultural reality, more in accordance with a mankind that each day learns a new trait of its awesome cosmopolitanism, and also learns to find, through study, respect and friendship, the universal values that make of each people and of the soul each nation, a fascinating universe worth discovering.. 1.3- Didactic resources: A useful way to achieve success.. During the last decades of the 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st, the diffusion of didactic resources and methodologies for their use, aimed at bringing a cheap, simple and effective way to develop a knowledge or ability have grown exponentially. As a consequence, the availability and quality of these methods have become essential parts of any teaching program, being the language teaching a primary line on which these resources have been developed with a great variety of methodologies and systems. So the teaching of languages has suffered a "media revolution" which has lopsided the view of this discipline, with both advantages and shortcomings. The constant evolution of the formats and programs to be applied in today's foreign language teaching by means of didactic resources have made them more and more complete and efficient.. 15.

(16) What elements characterize a didactic resource to be qualified as effective?. According to Oscar García, in his article Didactic resources for teaching English (Universidad de Sevilla, 1996): “Resources are any instruments that help us to achieve any goal; that is, auxiliary material with which the pupils develop the learning process.”. Taking into account the above statement, the efficiency in which the didactic resource develops the learning process is a crucial element to determine its effectiveness. Closely attached to this is how the didactic resource attains its goal. In his article, García states the percentage of data retained in the learning process: 10% of what is read 20% of what is heard 30% of what is seen 50% of what is seen and discussed 90% of what is said and done. It can be concluded that the greatest percentage is given to those items in which imagery and exchange are present, so an effective didactic resource should have a great component of images and contents that promote the exchange with their users. The discussion in pairs or in groups should be an issue that resources should aim at.. In the same source, Oscar García points out that “Attracting the attention of the students is one of the most important tasks (…)”. He gives great importance to the interest of the images and the topics included in a didactic resource to achieve the goal, so any didactic resource focused on language teaching should rely on a powerful and effective image system that enlarges and improves the range and interest in the topic for the students. Taking the previous considerations into account, the didactic resources should be considered among the best ways to facilitate an approach to culture of the English speaking countries.. 16.

(17) Didactic resources are used worldwide as a useful complementary aid to the teaching and the diffusion of information of several disciplines. Foreign language teaching is one of the processes that make the most and best use of the forenamed didactic resources, covering various topics for all ages and cultural backgrounds. In every resource used for the teaching and learning of a foreign language, a very important cultural factor is present, mostly in the graphical and contextual aid to the transmission of knowledge. In the vast majority of cases, the approximation to the culture of the English speaking countries is present in a sub textual or circumstantial manner.. The abundant use of imagery and the interaction between several supports for knowledge in the modern didactic resources, aimed at delivering the message in a more complete and efficient way, provides an important viability for the inclusion of a cultural approximation to an English teaching context. The inclusion of songs, images and a creative and purposeful environment for the learning of a new communicative function makes the didactic resources a tremendous opportunity to develop a more complete knowledge, not only about a new system of symbols for communication, but a true approximation to a new way of thinking and perceiving another culture.. One of the most important possibilities of a set of didactic resources is the opportunity it offers to be used in different moments and contexts, with or without the intervention of a teacher or a specialist. It is a matter of how effective the selection of contents and exercises is, and how they are presented. A set of didactic resources can be turned then, into a faithful playmate, a source of fun, an actual educative entity that transforms the, sometimes, arid and dull process of acquiring a new language into an interesting voyage through an entirely different world, away from the stiffness of the daily schedule. The exchange of knowledge becomes then an intimate process that will make the acquisition of the new contents much easier and fascinating.. The use of didactic resources as a way to introduce the learners in the English speaking culture is the best possibility to fulfill such a dignifying objective. The 17.

(18) inclusion of these aspects in the process of foreign language learning will turn the learners into more complete and profound human beings, providing them with a solid starting point for a better understanding of the complexity and heterogeneity of the modern world, and will contribute to make them the better men the future deserves.. 2- DIAGNOSIS AND ASSESSMENT OF NEEDS. In order to have a solid starting point for the research, and to proceed with the elaboration of a set of complementary didactic resources, it was necessary to carry out a diagnostic test to determine the main needs to meet for the fulfillment of the objective. Thus, a series of instruments were designed and applied, such as:. • Analysis of documents. • Observation guides. • Individual and group interviews.. For the design of the above listed instruments, the following indicators were determined:. 1- Students´ motivation. 2- Potentials of the subject. 3- Teachers´ level of preparation.. To carry out the diagnostic tests, the instruments were applied in the Primary School “Juan Carlos Rodríguez Rodríguez” to a 5th grade class made up of 20 students, 10 boys, and 10 girls. They were also applied to the teachers of English of that grade as well as to five teachers of English of the schools “Juan Oscar Alvarado” of Santa Clara municipality.. The analysis of documents (Annex 1) was applied to the Primary School Model, to the documents of Primary School such as: textbook and workbook of the. 18.

(19) subject and to class plans with the purpose of corroborating the presence of themes and aspects related with the objective of the research.. The observation guides (Annex 2) were designed and applied to the English lessons in 5th grade with the purpose of corroborating the existence of contents which can facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries.. The individual interviews (Annex 3) were intended for English teachers to check their level of knowledge and their motivation when dealing with aspects that facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries.. The group interview (Annex 4) was applied to a 5th grade class with the purpose of corroborating the level of motivation and interest of the students toward these themes, as well as to check the themes and aspects of their preference.. 2.1- Analysis of the results.. When checking the model for Elementary School, it was verified that, although it intends to develop values such as solidarity and mutual respect among peoples and men along with the children’s knowledge of the different cultures, the subjects that can reach this purpose are not specified, and there is not a specific strategy focused on this aspect either.. When the guide for the analysis of documents was applied, it was corroborated that the subject has a textbook, but the students do not have them, nevertheless, every student has a workbook. There is little or no relationship at all between the textbook and the culture and of the English speaking countries. A remarkable exception is the song John Brown and his little Indians, American folk song that can be used effectively to facilitate the approach to the culture of that nation and its aboriginal population. However, in these documents, especially in their structure, communicative functions, and exercises there are. 19.

(20) great potentials for the treatment of the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries.. In respect to the class plans checked, it was confirmed that there was little or no intention, neither in the objectives nor in the contents of the classes, to deal with the culture of the English speaking countries.. Six class plans were checked, and none of the lessons had exercises or tasks for the students that dealt with the culture of the English speaking countries, nor as part of the system of control or evaluation of any activity.. Class observation guides were applied in ten classes of this subject, and it was verified that most of the times the teacher created certain conditions prior to the development of the class, but very seldom did they use motivating devices that facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries.. The observation guide was applied in 10 classes of this subject. The results are located in three categories (always, sometimes, never), granted to each one of the observed aspects, which are reflected in the following chart:. Chart #1-results of the observation to classes. Aspects to be. Categories / Percentage. observed Always. %. Sometimes. %. Never. %. of. 7. 70. 3. 30. ----. ----. of. 2. 20. 1. 10. 7. 70. Use themes in. 3. 30. 1. 10. 6. 60. Creation previous conditions Use motivating elements. 20.

(21) the introduction ----. ----. 1. 10. 9. 90. of. ----. ----. 1. 10. 9. 90. a. ----. ----. 1. 10. 9. 90. 9. 90. 1. 10. ----. ----. ----. 2. 20. 8. Taking advantage. of. potentialities Use propitiatory exercises Creation of favorable environment Students´. ----. interests Orientación. of. 80. the actividades. It was proved that the previous conditions were almost always intended for the development of the lessons; although in few occasions some motivating elements were used in order to facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries. Topics that facilitated this approach were rarely contemplated, and teachers hardly ever took advantage of the potentials the contents offered to deal with these aspects, nor were exercises designed to facilitate such an approach.. No favorable atmosphere was achieved in the classes observed for the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries, although many students showed interest in the knowledge of the culture of these peoples and nations, especially in aspects related with their way of living, their climate, way of dressing, geography, and other aspects that are often shown on television and other mass media. In spite of this, in very few occasions, research work or practical tasks were guided to facilitate the treatment to these topics. Most of the times, the teachers were satisfied with some shallow explanation that did not respond the students´ queries, nor were they guided to achieve an 21.

(22) understanding in relation to the topic, or guided to the development of any positive value. In relation to especially prone topics, for example, the teaching of the seasons, students were taught to determine the characteristics of the four seasons and to know how to define them, a reality alien to our tropical nation, which entices the students' interest in knowing countries that do have that kind of weather. Confronted with this interest, the teacher gave a satisfactory explanation, although he limited his explanation to the geographical aspect only. The rest disregarded the interest of the students when they did not have the necessary knowledge for a complete answer, or lacked interest in encouraging the learners´ curiosity.. The collective interview was carried out in the 5th grade that served as the sample with the objective of verifying its level of interest and motivation to the topics under research and those topics that they found more attractive and on which they wanted to deepen into.. It could be corroborated that most of the students manifested a great motivation and interest to know the culture of the English speaking countries, especially those topics that were nearer to their every day life, as the climate, ways of dressing, likes, dances, geographical and historical curiosities, legends, mythology and folklore, national games, animals and customs, and achievements of technology, among others. The contents and vocabulary of the subject in the grade bring them near to these topics, but very often the teachers do not satisfy their curiosity, or they do not offer a satisfactory explanation.. The individual interview was applied to six teachers; four of them possessed some academic title. Their experience as teachers ranged from 1 to 7 years. Five had less than 5 years of experience in Primary School. One had more than 5 years, and none surpassed 10 years of experience. All of them knew the objectives to reach by the students in 5th grade, and they all manifested conformity and good opinions in relation to these objectives. However, only one teacher showed interest in the inclusion of topics related with the culture of the English speaking countries. The rest alleged lack of knowledge, inadequate preparation or insufficient experience to deal with these topics in class. None of 22.

(23) them has received methodological guidelines in relation to these topics, most (5) for lack of interest.. When asked about the potentials of the themes on the culture for their use in the classroom, all the teachers argued that they offer good potentials; however, only one could exemplify their potentials with a concrete proposal. The others came up with vague answers. This contrast with the majority of the positive answers before the query with respect to the interest of the students, because, according to their own answers, there is very direct in relation among these topics.. On the other hand, a total of 6 teachers (100%) estimated that the textbook and the workbook present potentials in their activities and themes to be used in the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries, although no one has used them with this purpose. In all cases, the themes related with the culture of these nations were used as a motivational complement in the introductory stage of the class.. The last stage of the interview was focused on the possible suggestions for the use of the subject as a means to facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries in class, and in the extracurricular activities as well. Only 3 teachers gave suggestions, all of them were centered on the curricular activities, except for one of them who suggested the implementation of a Circle of Interest with this topic.. The ideas suggested for the scenario of the class were mainly of the collective type – games – mainly at the introductory stage of the class. It is interesting to stand out that none of them gave a concrete example, but general answers mostly based on games developed in other subjects.. The analysis of the obtained results allowed the assessment of the following necessities:. 23.

(24) •. That the potentialities of the contents and exercises to facilitate an approach to the culture of the English speaking countries be used in the classes of English of the 5th grade.. •. That in the classes of English of the 5th grade, methods, contents and exercises be used that facilitate an approach to culture of the English speaking countries and supported by purposeful designed didactic resources.. •. That the great interest that the students of the 5th grade have on themes of culture of the English speaking countries be taken into account at the time of planning and teaching.. To provide a solution for these necessities, there is an urgent need to find a feasible alternative to facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking countries. Therefore, this solution should not only present those contents and objectives that the students are supposed to reach in the grade, and to manage them in a context that facilitates this approach, but, it should also be presented in an attractive and dynamic way, in form as well as in content. For this purpose, it was necessary to prepare a set of complementary didactic resources that comprised several elements in various formats, trying to achieve an interaction between the didactic means and the students. 2.2 Presentation of the proposal. th. Keeping in mind the multiple potentialities of the subject in 5 grade, as it has been explained above, the growing interest of the students in topics related with the culture of the English speaking countries, as well as the necessity of presenting these contents in an interesting and dynamic form, the researchers proceeded to put forward a set of complementary didactic resources, with the objective of facilitating an approach to the culture of these countries. In the present research, a series of didactic contents in various formats have been assumed as a set of complementary resources, which along with the corresponding activities, in the form of games, interactions, and digital materials, can facilitate the approach to the culture of the English speaking. 24.

(25) th. countries to the 5 grade students. It serves as a complement to the materials and documents for the teaching of English, using a combined system of concepts, contents, graphics, exercises and games, structured with the objective of eliciting the students´ interest and motivation. The fundamental components of the set of didactic resources is presented in the form of a booklet of activities (Let's See. Annex 5). It has the following structure: •. Cover. •. Meeting John and Paula (words to the readers). •. Index. •. Let’s go to …” (Introduction). •. Development. (It constitutes the most important part of the booklet which has been structured in various chapters that approach the main didactic nuclei, in accordance with the established communicative functions to develop in this period. It has 5 chapters; each chapter possesses a structure that includes: Walk around, Highlights and Let's Practice! In each of them, the communicative functions and the abilities to develop in the students are kept in mind).. The main contents to approach are: Where are you from? Where is it? What is it like? What time is it? What are you wearing? •. The first chapter, Where are you from?, includes characteristics of the students of various English-speaking countries, as well as the manners corresponding to the respective nationalities, showing peculiarities of their cultures and interesting aspects about them.. •. In the chapter Where is it?, there are topics related to the geographical location of these countries, as well as a description of some of their most important aspects (climate, population, flora and fauna, geography, and important historical places, among others.). •. The chapter What time is it?, Approaches themes related with how to measure time, some architectural constructions related with this topic, and with technology in general are approached, the uses of schedules. 25.

(26) observed in several English-speaking countries, and their differences, as well as the main scientific and technological advances of these nations. •. The fourth chapter, What are you wearing? Deals with the theme related with clothing; typical or modern, customs related with clothing, special meanings of some garments, and some important or peculiar aspects of dressing in these nations.. •. The last chapter, What is it like?, illustrates unique aspects of each English-speaking culture and their folklore, like dances, typical food, festivals, national games, among others, describing them in form and meaning for each culture and nation.. •. The booklet concludes with the section I hope you like it, which includes a journey through the main themes of the booklet. It encourages the students to deepen into these and other topics of their interest related with the culture of the English speaking countries.. •. As a motivating element for the students, the characters John and Paula will guide them through the different sections that make up the booklet.. •. The booklet makes use of expressive and dynamic images in content and presentation, with affordable and interesting themes, which are meant for interaction. Exercises include: puzzles, “word soups”, true or false and finding lost objects, among others. Great importance is given to the reliability on the sources of the texts offered, giving the students opportunities to deepen their knowledge beyond those presented in the booklet.. The booklet is presented as an alternative that intends to widen and facilitate th. the teaching-learning process in 5 grade students; at the same time, it contributes to the fulfillment of one of the principal objectives of Primary School: the development of an integral general culture in the learners, as well as the development of universal values of respect, dignity and friendship among the peoples. In addition to the booklet of activities, a set of games (Annex 6), entitled Let´s Play! is proposed for their use at the closing of each chapter. A fact book (Annex 7) of help for the teacher is also included; it contains notes and references to the topics dealt with in the booklet.. 26.

(27) The main objective of each game is to reinforce in a ludicrous way the knowledge acquired in the chapter by means of a series of activities, as questions, role plays, and challenges among others. All the games were designed to be played individually as well as in teams. The games in teams will contribute to strengthen companionship, sense of the competition and facility for the study. The teams can be named after famous explorers, historical characters or artists, among other possibilities. In each game the teacher will have the opportunity to raise the punctuation of a student or particular team by means of special questions that will be asked as it suits. As a general rule, the student or winning team will be compensated with an ovation, although some other rewards, either moral or material can be granted. The proposed games are the following: •. The first game, entitled The Great Game of Flags, exercise the contents and vocabulary of the chapter Where are you from?, from the booklet of activities. The game consists of a group of big cards that show the flags of different English speaking nations on one of its faces, the other side can not be seen by the rest of the players, and it has the name of the nation in question and some data about it. The other players will try to guess the name of the nation. If a player can relate the flag with the right country he or she will score a point in the form of a small flag which the team or student that has responded will accumulate. When concluding the game, the team or student with more flags will be the winner.. •. Protectors of the Planet, is the name of the second game that supplements the chapter Where is it? of the booklet of activities. The game combines questions and answers with role playing, because the players assume the role of "environmental policemen" that should protect the flora and the fauna in any part of the world. The elements of the game are on a board and a set of cards. They contain a situations where an animal or a plant is in danger, being the job of the players to find its location to protect it. Each card also contains data related to the threatened animals and plants that the players will find by means of questions. Each case solved will enable the student or team to obtain a record of "Out of Danger" in the place or area where the animal or plant is. Each victory gives the possibility to obtain a new case. When there are no more cards, the student or team that has accumulated more "Out of Danger" areas, becomes the winner. The degree of difficulty of each. 27.

(28) case solved adds extra points, with a range of 1 to 3. This range appears on each card. •. To exercise the vocabulary and the contents of the chapter What time is it? the game Scientists & Engineers is presented. The objective of this game is that the participants build an engineering work, for which several options are offered according to the profession chosen; for example, in the case of the architects, the Sydney Opera House or the Big Ben Tower. For this game, cards are used with questions and puzzles with each challenge. Every time a player answers a question correctly, he is granted a piece to complete his challenge. The player or team that finishes their challenge first, will be the winner. As in the previous games, the teacher can help a team or a certain player with extra questions to balance the game. Extra points can also be obtained according to the difficulty of each question, in a range of 1 to 3. The possibility of extra points is specified in each card.. •. The chapter What are you wearing? is complemented by the game Finding John and Paula on the missing Island. Each player will play the role of an explorer and will try to find John and Paula who suffered an air accident on a mysterious island. Every step they take, they will be confronted with obstacles in the form of challenges and questions. For each obstacle they overcome, they will receive a garment that will be key for the resolution of the next challenges. The first player in finding John and Paula’s whereabouts will be the winner.. •. The last game of the set of Complementary Didactic Resources is called John and Paula Jones and the Wonder Machine. In this game the players will help John and Paula to find twelve "archaeological relics" with the purpose of making "The Machine of Marvels" work. This game combines the contents of the 5th chapter, What is it like?, with contents previously studied. To find each relic, the players will solve riddles and challenges imposed by the guardians of the relics (Nessie, the Great Totem and Pocahontas, among others). The game ends when they make the "Machine of Marvels" work. Unlike the other games, this one is not competitive but cooperative; the players will solve the riddles individually,. 28.

(29) but for the sake of the whole team. This cooperative work will somehow contribute to prop up values of companionship and solidarity. All the proposed games present a great visual attractiveness with dynamic, eyecatching images and interesting challenges. The methodology followed for the creation of these games complies with the latest researches conducted by specialists on these topics, trying to achieve a maximum interaction among the students. The use of this proposal is not exclusive of the class, because it possesses potentials for its use any moment, with or without the participation of a professor. Attached up to the booklet of activities and the games exposed, there is a Factbook intended to aid the teacher. This complementary material has the objective of providing the teachers with ways to deepen their knowledge through a series of resources on the topics exposed in the booklet of activities and games, expanding their perspectives for the use of the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources. This Factbook contains the following sections: •. Suggestions for the work with the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources: It contains a brief series of suggestions related to the work with the contents and activities of the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources.. •. Media Guide: A summary of references to cartoons, movies and documentaries that can be used for the teacher’s self-study as well as for a support to the activities of the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources.. •. Register of appointments and references: Selection of bibliographical appointments and weblinks on the topics included in the booklet and the games. The appointments and references contained in this section can be used for self-study as well as for a support to the activities.. 29.

(30) 2.3- Evaluation through specialists' criteria Once the stage of designing the proposal was concluded, it was considered necessary its submission to specialists' criteria before applying it in the educational practice. With this purpose, a survey was conducted (Annex 8). It included eight aspects to value by specialists, each these aspects it possesses three categories: very appropriate, appropriate and not very appropriate. This instrument was applied to five specialists, all them with more than ten years of experience, academic category, and with proved domain of the subject, which allowed them to emit an trustworthy opinion about the designed proposal (Annex 9). •. When valuing the results from the survey to specialists, it can be affirmed that in the first aspect to evaluate, relative to the selection of the thematic ones, all the specialists considered that this selection had been very appropriate.. •. As for the presentation of the units, there was also a general consent; all of them regarded this aspect as very appropriate.. •. The structure of the units obtained three answers of very appropriate (60%) and two of appropriate (40%).. •. The relative aspect to the quality of the design obtained unanimous answers of very appropriate.. •. The level of attainability of the selected contents obtained four answers of very appropriate (80%) and one of appropriate (20%).. •. The aspect “Quality of the proposed exercises” obtained four opinions of appropriate (80%) and one of very appropriate (20%).. •. The use of the communicative functions in the grade received two votes of very appropriate (40%) and three votes of appropriate (60%). •. The last aspect of the survey, related to the possibilities that the proposal offers for their application in the practice, all the answers were of very appropriate (100%). As it can be appreciated in the previously exposed analysis, the specialists valued the designed proposal in a very positive way, and none of the aspects 30.

(31) received an answer of "not appropriate." Most of the specialists suggested its extension to other grades, and its implementation in the smallest possible time.. 2.4. Results obtained during the partial application of the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources in the educational practice To check the effectiveness of the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources designed during the research, a partial application was carried out. Chapter 4 of the booklet of activities, Let see!, entitled What are you wearing?, and the game "Finding John and Paula in the Missing Island", corresponding to this chapter, were chosen for the partial application. This selection was based on the necessity of the students of getting acquainted with the communicative functions related with clothing items, and their use in dialogues and written texts -- one of the main objectives of 5th grade. The organization of the subject was mainly based on the TV lessons, generally with 2 hours each, and 2 hours of consolidation lessons at the end of each unit, the latter were chosen for the application of the booklet of activities, since in the consolidation lessons, the teacher is less restricted to deal with specific items. Prior to the application of the selected chapter, an exchange took place with the teachers of English of the school, with the objective of reaching consent on the methodological procedures to use during the application of the proposal. Once this first condition was established, the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources was applied in the educational practice, specifically during the 4th period of the academic year 2011-2012. The initial page of the chapter presents a collage of faces of people from several English speaking nationalities with a small explanatory text, which served as an introductory and motivating element of the class, and helped to promote the interest of the students in a visual way. The teacher took advantage of the illustrations to introduce interesting aspects about the features of the faces that attracted the students´ attention, helped by the Factbook (the faces of the Maori from New Zealand, and the Mohican Indian, for example). After a small dialogue and the enunciation of the objective of the class, the next page was used in order to present the three main characters of the chapter, dressed with their traditional costumes: Jeffrey, of Scotland, with the typical kilt and beret; Indira, of India, with their traditional sari; and Tom, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in full uniform. The ludicrous possibilities of the pictures were taken advantage of, because, as the characters are drawn in 31.

(32) black and white, they were colored by the students. So it fulfilled various functions: the students colored the pictures, played with the colors, exercised their previous knowledge of the communicative functions, and, at the same time, they acquired the new vocabulary related to clothing items. At this point, the way was paved to cope with the third page, which shows several interesting garments, like the beaver cap and the headdress of feathers of a Sioux Indian. To exercise the contents dealt with in class, page 4 of the chapter proposes several activities of a strong ludicrous character, making emphasis on the new learned words and their uses in sentences. The repetition of words and the work in couples constituted essential points in the integration of the new vocabulary and contents to those suggested in the official syllabus. The suggestions for the use of the exercises and the initiative of the teacher were essential for designing several exercises not present in the booklet. The material and visual support for the class rested in the images and texts of the booklet. The bibliographical references compiled in the Factbook were used at several moments; they were the World Atlas Grijalbo, the volume The scientific discoveries in the mirror of the art, and An art book for children. The chapters dedicated to the Maori culture and North American aborigines were taken from the encyclopedia A Picturesque World. The amplifications of the drawings from the notebook were included in the Set of Didactic Resources. The second part of the partial application of the designed proposal consisted on the game Finding Tom and Paula in the missing Island, proposed as complement to chapter 4. The application of this game does not follow the traditional outline of the class, but rather it is centered in the acquisition and practice of knowledge by means of a ludicrous procedure: The class was divided into four teams of 5 students each. Each team was named after a famous explorer (Samuel E. Livingstone, James Cook, Magellan, Columbus and Amelia Earhart). Each team should follow a path to find John and Paula in the lost island; they should overcome several obstacles in the form of exercises whose solution should be found individually or in groups. The challenges were administered by the game itself, although the teacher had the possibility to grant extra points to a certain team or to a student who could respond more complicated questions. When conquering each challenge, the teams acquired a garment that they should use in a next obstacle (Example: when answering the question of the. 32.

(33) Totem, an amauti is acquired which will be worn in the Pole). The winning team received an ovation at the end of the class. The systematic observation allows affirming that the proposal had a great welcome on the part of the children, who were all the time very attentive and ready to take part. The items included in the game had a great impact on the pupils; because, in the great majority of the cases, they had no reference whatsoever about the existence of such things (the Scottish gear caused a great impression, as well as the tattoos of the Maori and the peculiarities of the life of the Inuit). It did not take much time for them to assimilate the new vocabulary and incorporate it to sentences. They also found the possibility of coloring and playing in English class very stimulating, because this possibility had not still been exploited. 2.5- Analysis of the results To check the effectiveness of the unit in question, a final observation was carried out according to the guide of the annex 2, which allowed a comparative analysis of the results obtained before and after the application of the proposal. Emphasis was made on those aspects that were considered more significant. To facilitate the analysis, the following comparative chart is shown: Categories / Percentage Aspects to. Before. After. be observed Always % Sometimes % Never % Always Use of. %. Sometimes % Never %. 2. 20. 1. 10. 7. 70. 5. 100. 0. 0. 0. 0. ----. --. 1. 10. 9. 90. 5. 100. 0. 0. 0. 0. ----. ---. 1. 10. 9. 90. 5. 100. 0. 0. 0. 0. ----. ---. 1. 10. 9. 90. 4. 80. 1. 20. 0. 0. 9. 90. 1. 10. ----. ---. 5. 100. 0. 0. 0. 0. motivating elements Taking advantage of the potentialities Use of propitiatory exercises Creation of a favorable atmosphere Students´. 33.

(34) interests. The qualitative analysis of the chart showed that the use of motivating elements was present in 100 percent of the classes observed. In the preliminary diagnosis, the indicator related with the use of the potentialities of the lesson to approach the culture of the English speaking countries, confirmed only one lesson in the category Sometimes (10 percent), and 9 lessons in the category Never (90 percent). When applying the observation during the phase the proposal was put into practice, 100 percent of effectiveness was obtained in the described indicator. The use of propitiatory exercises also proved to be faulty during the phase of preliminary diagnosis, with only one time in the category Sometimes (10 percent) and nine in the category Never (90 percent). When the proposal was put into practice- it could be observed that the use of these exercises was present in the five lessons observed, with 100 percent of effectiveness in this important indicator. Other important indicator taken into consideration in the initial observation, the creation of a propitiatory environment for an approach to the culture of the English-speaking countries, was not satisfactory in the phase of initial diagnosis; the result showed 10 percent (one lesson) in the category Sometimes, and 90 percent (nine lessons) in the category Never. When observing the application of the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources in the educational practice, it could be verified that the facilitating atmosphere for the described approach was achieved in the five lessons observed, with 100 percent of effectiveness in the indexed aspect. An aspect that underwent few changes was the interest of the students. It remained stable during the phase of preliminary diagnosis. In the nine lessons observed, the interest in the topics related to the culture of the English speaking countries reached 90 percent, and 10 percent in the category Sometimes. When the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources was applied, there was a boost in the interest of the pupils, which became evident in the rising of this indicator to 100 percent. The results obtained lead to the assertion that the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources is effective and it fulfills the objectives and goals established at the beginning of the research.. 34.

(35) CONCLUSIONS •. The study and research of the potentials of English (as a subject) for an approach to the culture of the English speaking countries in the Elementary School, lead to the assertion that there are elements, which are inherent to the teaching of a foreign language, that allow its use for the enrichment of the cultural background of the learners.. •. The diagnosis made, showed that it is imperative to find feasible alternatives in order to facilitate an approach to the culture of the English speaking countries, along with other issues that meet the learners´ needs and expectations, since the potentials offered by the subject are far from being fully exploited.. •. The Set of Complementary Didactic Resources is structured according to the main communicative functions to be taught at this level. They are presented through subject matters which favor the approximation to the culture of the English speaking countries by way of expressive and dynamic images in content and appearance with interesting and accessible themes.. •. The specialists consulted about the quality and pertinence of the proposal emitted positive criteria about the design and the setting in practice of the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources.. •. The results obtained with the partial application of the proposal in the educational practice were encouraging, and the proposal was very welcomed by pupils and teachers. Particularly, the impact among the students was very positive, because it opened for them a new universe of knowledge and exchange.. 35.

(36) RECOMMENDATIONS. •. It is recommended that the rest of the units and games proposed in the Set of Complementary Didactic Resources be applied in the educational practice.. 36.

(37) BIBLIOGRAPHY. • •. Álvarez de Zayas, Carlos Miguel. Metodología de la investigación científica. Universidadad de Oriente, Edición digital. Bilang, Karla. Los grandes Descubrimientos en el espejo del arte. De la serie “Un libro de arte para niños”, Editorial Gente Nueva, 1976.. •. Biram, Michel, Zárate Genevieve y Miriam G. La competencia sociocultural en la enseñanza de la lenguas extranjeras. Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, 2008. •. Center for Applied Linguistics (www.cal.org), 2010. •. Charaudeau, Patrick. Aprender una lengua extranjera. En El Correo de la UNESCO. July 1983 Coltrane, Bronwyn and Peterson, Elizabeth. Culture in Second Language. Teaching.. Classroom.. ISSN:. 1524-6345,. Radical. Pedagogy, 2001 •. Díaz Ortega, Heike. El componente cultural en la enseñanza de una lengua extranjera como aplicación didáctica. Aldalis.net, La revista de Educación, ISSN: 1697-8005, May, 2006. •. El gran juego de “Conoce América”. In Un Mundo a mi Tamaño, Obra nacional de la buena Prensa, México. June, 1996. •. El Hobbit. In Pionero. Editora Abril. April 2000. •. El Mundo Mágico de los sellos. AFINSA, Editorial Mediterránea, Madrid. July, 2000. •. Encyclopedia. Britannica. (Articles. Platypus,. Kangaroo,. London,Program Apollo) –The Encyclopedia Britannica Foundation, 1975 •. Frenzel, Rose-Marie. Jugando. De la serie “Un libro de arte para niños”, Editorial Gente Nueva, 1977. •. Fyle, Clifford N. La lengua, soporte de una identidad cultural. In El Correo de la Unesco. July, 1983 García, Oscar. Didactic resources for teaching English. Universidad de Sevilla. Spain, 1996 37.

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(40) • •. Various authors. Manual de consulta metodológica para la formación de los profesores de Lenguas Extranjeras. “Felix Varela” Pedagogical University, 2007 Various authors. The teaching of English as an international language. A practical guide. Edición revolucionaria, 1989.. •. Ventura, Piero y Ceserani, Gian Paolo. Los viajes de Cook. SEP/Mondadori Editores, 1991. •. Viva la Amistad! In Un mundo a mi tamaño, Obra Nacional de la buena Prensa,. •. Widdowson, H. “ Aspects of the relationship between culture and language” ,in M . Köchling (de). Culture and Language Learning, Paris: Didier, 1988.. 40.

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