Learning about Culture and Teaching During a Short-Term Immersion-Based Study Abroad

Learning about Culture and Teaching During a Short-Term Immersion-Based Study Abroad

Barbara A. Bradley (University of Kansas, USA) and Andrea M. Emerson (Clemson University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1057-4.ch010
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Culturally responsive teaching is grounded in an understanding of students' cultural backgrounds. However, how do preservice teachers learn about culture? While coursework and field placements can help preservice teachers to begin to understand what culture is, a study abroad program in which participants are immersed in a community and schools can help them move beyond surface-level ideas of culture to a deeper understanding of it. This chapter describes a 4-week summer study abroad program in Italy in which each preservice teacher lives with a host family and observes and teaches in an Italian school. It presents findings from preservice teachers' reflections on culture and teaching based on blog entries. Finally, it provides suggestions for future research related to better understanding and preparing preservice teachers to engage in culturally responsive teaching.
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An Immersion-Based Study Abroad In Italy For Education Majors

Culturally responsive teaching (Gay, 2002, p. 106) is defined as:

using the cultural characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of ethnically diverse students as conduits for teaching them more effectively. It is based on the assumption that when academic knowledge and skills are situated within the lived experiences and frames of reference of students, they are more personally meaningful, have higher interest appeal, and are learned more easily and thoroughly.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blogs: Online journal entries describing and reflecting on activities and events, and may include images or short video clips.

Realia: Objects and material from everyday life that are used as teaching tools.

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Pedagogy grounded in a teacher’s understanding of culture and the ability to relate course content to a student’s cultural context.

English Language Learner: Students who are learning to communicate in English and typically require modified instruction to learn English and the content.

Immersion: Living and possibly working or going to school in a country other than your own.

School Placement: The placement of pre-service teachers in an Italian preschool, elementary or middle school based on their request, to observe and work to the best of their ability given language difference and to teach English to Italian students.

Pre-Service Teacher: Refers to a college student currently enrolled in teacher preparation program in the United States in order to receive state licensure to teach specified grades and/or content areas.

Host Family Placement: The placement of American pre-service teacher with an Italian family to promote cultural understanding and exchange of ideas.

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