Along with language development, interculturality plays an integral part in the goal setting, self-assessment, and reflection process of LinguaFolio Jr.
Children ages two to seven are still constructing their self-identity, providing a unique opportunity to build awareness of one’s own culture and the culture of others. Children are keen observers of objects, actions, and attitudes, which educators will recognize as the products, practices, and perspectives of the national standards.
Preschoolers tend to process knowledge by repeating, imitating, or mimicking what they see and hear. Teachers can capitalize on this natural tendency by providing an environment of cultural authenticity as well as opportunities for interaction.
The educator’s role in helping students develop interculturality is key.
Help Students Establish a Sense of Self and Culture
Use what students are familiar with so that they can begin to identify elements of their own culture before they are asked to recognize elements of another. For example, when introducing the theme of family, allow students to first focuses first on their own families.
Model, Rather Than Explain
Modeling enables students to infer meaning through the input of the target language and without the intrusive use of English. Young students notice more of what is done than what is said.
Strategically use the cultural practices and products associated with the target culture. For example, have students speak a traditional greeting each morning.
Establish a Safe Environment for Discovery and Inquiry
Focus students on noticing what is, not what is different, between their culture and the target language culture.
Encourage students to reflect by asking questions, but not requiring answers. These are moments when seeds of thought are planted in students’ minds that later allow them to understand perspectives.