Cultural Beliefs Activity: From conversation to writing

Knowing popular legends in English-speaking countries can facilitate communication and understanding in the target language. Every so often I love to address a cultural belief and turn it into a language lesson. This week I’ll be posting a video about the Tooth Fairy. My son recently lost a tooth and the staff at my family dentist’s was willing to talk on camera, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a video on this topic.

How much can we exploit the Tooth Fairy topic for the purpose of learning English? I suggest expanding class discussion to a set of cultural beliefs commonly passed on to children, namely the legends of the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus. Depending on whether you’re in an ESL or EFL setting, you can make comparisons between two or more countries.

My suggestions for ESL teachers:

Step 1 – Explain the legend of the Tooth Fairy. Ask students to share what they know.

Step 2 – Copy my handout.  [Cultural beliefs_handout_ESL] Distribute the chart to each student. Tell students to listen carefully to the class discussion and take notes. Ask volunteers from the different countries represented in the class to state if they have similar or different cultural beliefs. Questions for clarification are encouraged. Note: You may modify the chart and add or subtract boxes as needed depending on how many countries are represented.

Step 3 – Repeat the pattern of discussion for the remaining two legends, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Again, ask students to take notes on their charts.

Step 4 – In pairs, ask students to write short summaries based on their notes. If you wish to limit the amount of writing, you can assign a topic to each pair: Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus. See my handout for a possible template.

 

My suggestions for EFL teachers:

Step 1 – Explain the legend of the Tooth Fairy. Ask students to share what they know.

Step 2 – Copy my handout. [Cultural beliefs_handout_EFL] Distribute the chart to pairs of students.  Ask them to discuss similarities and differences between the U.S. cultural beliefs and their own. They should use their charts to make notes.

Step 3 – Have volunteers share their information with the whole class. Information can be added or changed during this time. Encourage questions for clarification and confirmation.

Step 4 – Repeat this pattern of discussion for the remaining two legends, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

Step 5 – In pairs, ask students to write short summaries based on their notes and class discussion. If you wish to limit the amount of writing, you can assign a topic to each pair: Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus. See my handout for a possible template.

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