Culture pervades every level of human life, from the habits of an entire nation’s people to the intimate dynamics found within a group of friends. Rituals, customs, traditions and iconography are powerful—together, they have the potential to change lives.
In fact, every English class has already formed its own culture organically, whether it be consciously recognized or largely unnoticed; class culture can manifest itself positively or negatively. If students are eager to participate in a lesson in order to get stickers, they are recognizing a custom. If students are used to coming into class late, they have learnt a ritual. If new students in a class are informed about the rules by “veteran” students, then the teacher has succeeded in constructing a tight-knit culture.
The stronger such a culture becomes, the more students feel like valued members of the class. This, of course, creates enthusiastic participants in their own effectual education. Building a unique class culture is not difficult, but it requires an orchestrated network of activities, expectations and sensory stimulation. This presentation teaches conference attendees how to do this at their own academic institutions. By embracing key aspects of anthropology, teachers can become leaders of tribes. Students, in turn, become ambitious learners within a unique classroom community.
Jeff has taught English for more than a decade, having administered lessons to students of all ages and races—from the preschool and kindergarten level (which he currently oversees in the capacity of Head English Teacher) to adult level pupils at Kaplan International College in New York City, and everything in between. He also works as a freelance teacher trainer in the Seoul metropolitan area, educating foreigners who are new to the field of ELT.