As an International Baccalaureate World School, culture is at the center of many lessons at Roberto Clemente Community Academy. For English language learners in ESL class, culture is at the heart of every lesson. In this class, students are constantly reflecting on their own culture and making connections to American culture, as well as learning about the different cultures of their peers.
One of the many benefits of being a student at Clemente is the exposure to diversity. The ELL population at Clemente includes students from all over the world: Ukraine, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, and Puerto Rico. Instead of focusing solely on American culture, I draw from students’ individual experiences to teach new material. Sometimes, students can be the best teachers in a classroom.
For the first summative project, students are creating a project that compares and contrasts American culture to the culture of their own home countries. First, they must research their home country and America and write detailed notes in an outline. Next, they must create a visual presentation using Google Slides or Prezi. Finally, they must present their projects to the class and teach their classmates about their own culture. All steps involve practicing the four core skills of an ESL class – reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Being immersed in a new language and culture is a challenge for all English language learners. It helps to know you are not alone and that other students and teachers have just as much to learn as you do. Through this project and everyday lessons, students are given a platform to express their cultural identities and backgrounds while showing what they are learning about their new home. Once the project is complete, I expect presenters to feel proud of where they come from and recognize how much they are already improving with English. I also expect audience members to have a greater understanding of their classmates and grow as a strong community of supportive, open-minded, and culturally aware students.