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Unread Apr 16th, 2012, 07:48 am
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Default Lesson Plan: Cultural Perspective University Students

I use this lesson with my college sophomores here in China, and it really sparks some interesting conversations and discussions.

I provide the class with handouts prepared from information on this site. Each handout should be no more than one page long (any longer and they get discouraged) and there should be at least two different handouts for the students to read.

I pre-teach difficult vocabulary before distributing the handouts, then ask the students to read the articles in pairs. I also tell them that while they're reading, they should be considering what they agree with and what they disagree with in each article. The purpose of the handouts is to introduce the students to their own culture through a foreigner's eyes (albeit a foreigner who seems to be very well acquainted with Chinese culture).

The entire first 45-minute period is spent in introducing the topic and purpose of the lesson to the class, and allowing the students time to read and discuss the articles. I tell them to talk with their partners and the classmates around them as they prepare for a class-wide discussion, during which time they will present their opinions along with concrete examples supporting them.

In the second period, I ask the students what they agree with in each article. The class then discusses each facet and example as a group (I moderate and elicit explanations and further discussion when necessary). After discussing the aspects they agree with, I open the conversation to things they disagree with. This invariably gets more exciting and interesting as students begin pointing out flaws in perspective and understanding.

After the agree/disagree topic has been exhausted, I ask the students to think about what they would write if they were asked to introduce Chinese customs and habits to foreigners. The class shares ideas and discusses why each aspect is important or unimportant. Finally, I ask the students to consider what they would write if they were asked to introduce American culture to Chinese people. This last part can segue into another lesson about the Chinese perception of American culture, and the day-to-day reality of living in America.

Though this lesson may sound serious and not particularly fun, the students really get involved and interested in it. It's an opportunity for them to gain some insight into what foreigners think of China, which is always something they're curious about and interested in, and it also offers them the chance to express their own opinions and ideas. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I tried this with my sophomores, and I plan to continue using it in the future.
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