Welcome to Language Latte: a conversation about teaching world languages. This is Becky Morales from Kid World Citizen, and I am your host. Today we are talking about incorporating global education in the classroom with simple ideas to connect with classrooms around the world and implement global and cultural learning now. Treat yourself to a latte, and settle in, so we can start our chat!
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In this episode we are discussing what is known as “global education,” integrating lessons about world culture and human geography into our lessons which leads to global competency. It is undeniable that our world is more interconnected than ever. We’ll look at what global competence means, and how world language classes offer such a clear path to competency in a new culture and a portal to understanding the wider world. Then, in my interview with Homa Tavangar, we discuss easy global education tools to get started.
Maybe around 10 years ago, I was in front of my Spanish 1 class, and I was showing them a little bit of linguistic history. So I sketched a map of Spain on the board, and drew a curve below it to show the north of Africa. I was talking about the Roman soldiers, in their outposts of what is now Spain, and after a while I talked about how the Moors were in different parts of Spain from 711 to 1492, and how their language influenced Spanish. I pointed south of Spain and asked “What is this big continent here?” And immediately the students shouted out “South America!”
OK, so it’s no secret that kids lack geography skills. But something else happened later that year that sort of pushed me off the edge. My sister-in-law was visiting from Mexico City- which in the year 2000 was the largest city and metropolitan in the world. I was constantly looking for creative ways for my students to speak with native speakers, so for homework, I had them come up with some questions for her, about her life in Mexico City.
I was so embarrassed when some of the questions were “do you know what an apple is?” “Do you have schools in Mexico?” and the worst “Do you have cars in Mexico City?” I mean, have you seen the traffic on the periférico? Mexico is the primary exporter of automobiles to the U.S., and Ford and Buick have assembled there since the 1920s. They were talking to her as if she was living somewhere 100 years ago.
This complete lack of understanding was the catalyst I needed to transform the way I taught culture in class. I began to incorporate more cultural learning, we began to have pen-pals from Latin America, I would make videos every trip to Mexico City I could, and as the technology advanced, I started to use skype in the classroom to connect with other classes. I realized that high school is too late to START incorporating cultural and global learning. So in 2011 I started my web site, KidWorldCitizen.org, to help teachers in the primary grades, and even early childhood incorporate more authentic culture into class. I share hundreds and thousands of free ideas on my web site and across social media, to help teachers and parents teach their kids about the world. Soon, I realized that this type of teaching had a name. On twitter, you can find this trend with #globaled, and dozens of organizations each have their own way of defining “global competency.”
In today’s global society, students benefit from the ability to communicate and work with a wide variety of people from diverse corners of the globe, all of them with varying perspectives and experiences. Technology is connecting classes as young as kindergarten and preK from Canada to Japan to Finland, and according to the 2010 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, an almost unanimous 98% of educators and 99% of school principals surveyed believe that global competence is important for students’ futures.
What is global competence? Let’s look at different descriptions that support global competency.
The Maastricht Global Education Declaration (from 2002) states that
Global education is opens people’s eyes and minds to the realities of the globalised world so they can bring about a world of greater justice, equity and Human Rights for all.
Oxfam says that global citizenship
enables young people to develop competencies that allow them to actively engage with the world: including a value and respect for diversity, a concern for the environment, skills like cooperation and conflict resolution and the ability to challenge injustice and equalities.
The NEA mentions 4 critical elements of global competency: international awareness, appreciation of cultural diversity, proficiency in world languages, and competitive skills such as high-level thinking skills that enhance creativity.
Global Teacher Education mentions the importance of language skills, so that students are able to communicate across cultures and understand perspectives from around the world.
And finally, the most complete definition of global competency in my opinion is the EdSteps Global Competence Matrix (which they wrote with the Asia Society). This definition gives us some concrete applications for our classrooms. Students should
- Investigate the World: In our classes, we could use a variety of sources and media, including authentic resources from the countries that speak the language we’re teaching.
- Recognize Perspective: by walking in another’s shoes, students should try to think how people in other countries would feel about the issues, especially with regards to cultural beliefs
- Communicate Ideas: This gets into writing and speaking, and using media and technology to reach a wider audience outside their peers in class- whether it is a video or blog post, or a minibook that they publish for others.
- And then the Take Action portion- this means putting into practice what the class has learned by making a positive contribution to the world, whether through a community service project, volunteering, or even helping in the lower grades.
These definitions are just the beginning of developing and incorporating global education into our classrooms. To read more about how your school can empower and support your teachers in globalizing their curriculum, you can check out the book The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners, which I actually authored with our guest today, Homa S Tavangar (of Growing Up Global). This book is packed with hundreds of ideas you can implement today, from educational technology that connect your classroom to kids from around the world, global learning in every academic subject area, to professional development opportunities, dozens of service learning examples, and a multicultural reading list with over 300 titles. If you’d like to take your students on a global adventure- right from your classroom- this is the book for you.
When people think of global education, foreign language learning may be the first thing that comes to mind. Justifiably so: like I said in the intro, fluency in another language offers the clearest path to competency in a new culture and a portal to understanding the wider world. I would argue that language exposure is a central part of global education. As students acquire more language, they are slowly able to communicate effectively with citizens around the world. Language classes reinforce concepts and give students another chance to practice critical thinking skills and develop cultural awareness.
Does integration of global competency remain rare in most schools? How does your school incorporate global learning? Tweet me @kidworldcitizen and if you want, check-in to the #globaled.
For every upcoming unit you begin to plan teaching, consider where a global dimension can be included. How can you relate this to a current event in the world? How can you tie in an authentic cultural lesson? Sprinkle maps throughout your classroom and refer to them often. Clip newspaper articles from authentic, target language media sources, and show related video clips. Connect with students in other countries and learn about each other using tech tools. Choose texts- both fiction and nonfiction- that feature insights into cultural traditions, beliefs, and values. Learn how other countries are tackling problems we are also facing, and identify similarities and differences.
Keep a global mindset when planning our lessons. Successful implementation of global education can expand what you thought was possible and create a more fulfilling, productive, lifelong learning process for your students—and for you.
I’m really excited to speak with our guest today.
An Interview with Homa S Tavangar about #GlobalEd and Global Competency
Homa Sabet Tavangar spent 20 years working in global competitiveness, organizational, business and international development with hundreds of businesses, non-profits, and public organizations, before turning her attention to global education. Homa is the author of Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World, The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners that we mentioned, and contributor to Mastering Global Literacy, by Heidi Hayes-Jacobs. Homa’s work is sparking initiatives to help audiences from CEOs to Kindergartners learn and thrive in a global context – and have fun along the way.
1) Tell me about yourself (your background, experiences with languages, what you’re doing now)
2) Today we are talking about global education, and bringing all of the world cultures into our classroom. Why is it so important in today’s environment that language teachers bring this global awareness to our students?
3) How can teachers use technology to make connections with classrooms around the world?
- Empatico.org Kids in grades 1-5, in any subject area can connect with classrooms around the world to help build peace and understanding
- iEARN.org Classes build partnerships with other classes (any age) and work on global projects together
- Out of Eden Walk A joint project between National Geographic, Harvard University’s Project Zero, and Pulitzer Center on Conflict Reporting to follow the 7+ year journey of Paul Salopec, who is walking around the planet. There are many ways to join the community.
- Teach SDGs Connect with other schools to join projects that teach kids about the Sustainable Development Goals.
4) Where can our listeners find you, if they want to learn more?
I love talking about global education, and I love writing lessons that incorporate global learning. If you haven’t checked out my teachers pay teachers store, I have tons of materials that aim to teach kids about the world through comprehensible readings and activities, and games, especially for ESL and Spanish classes. We have a really popular passport and stamp kit that goes with our geography stars program that is being used in hundreds of schools right now, and we keep adding more countries and fascinating facts. I know you will love it as much as I do!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends and colleagues! Also, I love reading the reviews at the itunes store. Every time we get a review, Language Latte will come up higher in the search for more teachers. Finally, if you have more questions, or if you have great ideas that work in the classroom, we talk about language teaching 24/7, in our Language Latte facebook group.
I love to chat about questions or hear feedback you have about this episode, and to gather your ideas for future shows. Tell us what you’re doing in your language classroom!
To never miss an episode, subscribe on itunes, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Language Latte is made possible by OneWorldTrek.org: language and cultural immersion travel for teachers in Mexico. It was so nice to meet you all. I look forward to chatting next time, and hopefully collaborating in the future! Until then, ciao!