Many educators are passionate about intercultural learning, and some become AFS as volunteers to learn more about this topic. Intercultural learning and global citizenship are interconnected, and they are both important for entire education systems because they can impact the curriculum of various subjects in many different ways. Read more about the benefits of an intercultural classroom here.
By using the existing resources and with a bit of creativity, teachers can incorporate elements of intercultural learning in their lessons. We bring you 5 ideas to integrate intercultural learning in your classroom:
1. Explore what intercultural learning is all about.
Teachers can be the real change agents in schools that are open to integrating intercultural learning into their classrooms. This is not a cliché, on the contrary: a teacher who is really committed to the topic can make a strong impact on their students, one step at a time. There are hundreds of websites with resources about intercultural learning, so where should you start? Begin at education.afs.org exploring different resources and materials highlighted. Then, move on to UNESCO’s website – one of their core objectives is to support teachers. Finally, check out the resources offered by UNICEF, who also provides lots of support to teachers.
2. Use the news for reflection and debate in the classroom.
Global citizenship and intercultural competences are pracitced every day – so you can start by facilitating discussions about the news to explore these topics. Look through social media, or explore international and local news in other media outlets. Pick a news story, get thoroughly informed about the topic and create a list of questions relevant for your students to reflect about, respond to and propose change actions. For example, you can ask: What is this story about? What happened and why? Which values are being challenged? What do you think can be done to resolve this problem? With the right questions, even a subject that initially might seem distant can be seen as a common problem and inspire empathy in your students.
3. Design engaging activities to transform the classroom.
Experiential learning works best if the learner finds it emotionally engaging. Activities that tackle intercultural and global citizenship education best should engage learners on the cognitive, emotional and behavioral levels. We in AFS agree with UNESCO’s position that all students should understand key concepts, but they should also explore situations that focus on values and create a feeling of shared humanity, which will have a positive effect on their behavior. Coming up with such situations in which students can reflect and experiment is a challenging task for the teacher, but it is certainly rewarding as well.
4. Invite AFS to facilitate an intercultural learning workshop for the students.
AFS has developed high quality workshops for students to learn about culture, diversity, stereotypes and much more from an experiential perspective. These workshops are facilitated by trained volunteers, they have clear educational goals, and can be adapted for different durations and local contexts.
5. Use the existing diversity in the classroom to learn about different cultures.
Diversity can be found in every classroom in the world. It can be a useful resource for teachers to teach culture and diversity and for students to get to know and relate to each other better, exploring what they have in common and ways in which they are different. By reflecting on the diversity within the classroom, students will become more conscious that they don’t have to cross national borders to experience diversity.
There are plenty of ideas and resources to support you in tackling intercultural learning in the classroom. Being creative and using the available resources is key, because there are plenty of ways to address this topic and make your classroom more intercultural. Have you already decided which of these ideas you’ll use first to explore intercultural topics?
This article was written by Julia Taleisnik (@julitaleisnik), Volunteer Development Director for AFS Argentina & Uruguay and an International Qualified Trainer for the AFS Intercultural Link Learning Program.