This well-known task for online intercultural exchange uses comes from the Cultura exchange project.
This task involves the juxtaposing of questionnaire results from the two different cultures together on web pages in order to offer a comparative approach to investigating cultural difference.
When using Cultura, language learners from two cultures (for example, Spanish learners of English and American learners of Spanish) complete online questionnaires related to their cultural values and associations. These questionnaires can be based on word associations (e.g. What 3 words do you associate with the word ‘ Spain?), sentence completions (e.g. A good citizen is someone who . . .) or reactions to situations (e.g. Your friend in 22 and is still living with his parents. What do you say to him/her? ). (See an example of one of the juxtaposed questionnaires in the attachment below.)
Each group fills out the questionnaire in their native language. Following this, the results from both sets of students are then compiled and presented online. Under the guidance of their teachers in contact classes, students then analyse the juxtaposed lists in order to find differences and similarities between the two groups’ responses. Following this analysis, students from both countries meet in online message boards to discuss their findings and to explore the cultural values and beliefs which may lie behind the differences in the lists.
In addition to the questionnaires, learners are also supplied with online resources such as opinion polls and press articles from the two cultures which can support them in their investigation and understanding of their partner class’ responses.
Institution reporting the task:
Language of task instructions:
References and acknowledgements:
Comparison & analysis
Different aspects of national culture
The Cultura concept has been reproduced in many different contexts. However, the original idea came fromGilberte Furstenberg (email@example.com), Sabine Levet (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Shoggy Waryn (email@example.com) at MIT. You can read more about Cultura on their platform.
Language(s) that the task can be used in:
Dominant language production:
Specific pedagogical objectives:
Development of students analytical skills
Suggested Communication Tools:
Publications about the original Cultura project.
- The first step is for teachers to create the themes for their questionnaires – key words, unfinished sentences etc. which may reveal cultural differences.
- Secondly, both sets of students should complete the same questionnaires, but in their native language. In other words, American complete the questionnaires in English and the Spanish complete theirs in Spanish.
- Then, the teachers must collect all the answers and present them in two parallel lists. These are given to the students who can then analyse the lists, looking for similarities and differences between the two groups' answers.This analysis can be done in class time in each institution.
- When the students have drawn conclusions from their analysis, they meet online in aysnchronous forums to discuss their findings with the partner class. These online discussions can, in turn, be discussed and analysed in class in order to make students more aware of the themes that emerge in the interaction. Attached below is a print-out of some discussions between Spanish and American students about their analysis of the questionnaire. This print-out was discussed in class with the Spanish students.
Document related to the task:
Criteria for Completion:
Comments and suggestions:
The developers of this model (Furstenberg Levet English and Maillet 2001) report that this contrastive approach helps learners to become more aware of the complex relationship between culture and language and enables them to develop a method for understanding a foreign culture.
It is also important to point out that in this model, as in most telecollaborative projects, while the data for cultural analysis and learning are produced online, the role of contact classes and the teacher are considered vital in helping the learners to identify cultural similarities and differences and also in bringing about reflection on the outcomes of the students’ investigations on the Cultura platform.
Cultura MIT: http://cultura.mit.edu/