Culture Bump is headed to Mexico!


Color 3


Ms. Barbara VanFossen Kennedy and Ms. Sandra Carretin-Mulvaney, Cross Cultural Coordinators from the Language and Culture Center of the University of Houston,  are pleased to be taking their program of Culture Blasts to MEXTESOL International Convention.   They will be presenting Transforming ESL classrooms with culture blasts ” in Puebla, Mexico on October 16-19, 2014. 

Incorporating culture into an ESL classsroom can be challenging with so much to teach in an intensive English program. However, a language cannot be truly learned and internalized unless the culture of the language is uncovered and shared with students from different backgrounds.

Using the website as a guide, presenters will demonstrate how to promote discussions about culture by “blasting” intercultural communication topics into the classroom. Participants will learn how students can be encouraged to reflect on their backgrounds and upbringing and begin to have an understanding of how their experiences have affected their perceptions. Because students (and teachers) grew up in different times and places, many different views have been formed and can be brought into the classroom. This generally leads to Culture Bumps (™), which are then defined and discussed in class. These Culture Bumps offer a remarkably effective way of managing cultural differences on a personal level. By understanding and practicing this approach, an individual experiences personal reflections as well as a community spirit which nurtures authentic cross–cultural relationships. These relationships emerge from developing a set of clear–cut communication skills which are clustered around a specific “culture bump.” Presenters will demonstrate how this process works and how to implement this technique in the classroom.

Further cross-culture concepts will be introduced along with demonstrations on how to “blast” them into the classroom. For example, discussions can be promoted regarding the meaning of honesty, cheating, or friendship, and this will lead to an examination of cultural values and, subsequently, which values are universal. How to focus attention on the many different styles of communication will be shown, as well as tasks for identifying one’s own and each other’s various styles. Additionally, presenters will demonstrate how to “blast” the cultural adjustment cycle into students’ consciousness, and how they can use it to help manage their emotions resulting from living in a foreign land for the first time. Finally, suggestions will be offered on how to maintain the focus throughout the process on commonalities rather than on differences.

This unique “blast” method, when connected to the regular curriculum, encourages interpersonal connections that transcend diversity and transforms students’ lives to help them reach their language and academic goals more effectively.

Both presenters are experienced ESL teachers who have taught Cross Cultural Communication at the Language and Culture Center as well as in other countries.  They created the Culture Blasts Program to integrate “blasts” of culture into ongoing ESL classes – being mindful of the Culture Bump Approach which provides a structured approach for teaching and learning cross cultural competencies, so that the  Blasts – while not requiring a great deal of time – are consistently increasing the students’ abilities and awareness.

Culture Bump sez “Nos vemos en Mexico lindo”


Comments are closed.