Opportunities for Cultural Learning Using Tech

teaching-928637_640For children, global citizenship entails a combination of understanding who they are in the context of the globe as well as the backgrounds and perspectives of others from around the world.  This means that early childhood professionals and parents need to provide a balance between cultural relevant materials and those that expose children to different cultures and countries.  Since I have conveyed the importance of cultural relevancy in children’s traditional and digital media previously, for this post I will emphasize techniques for bringing new content into early childhood settings or the home.

If we want to help children become global citizens, we should give them opportunities to learn about different cultures, countries and customs.  Digital and traditional media are just one form of creating these learning opportunities.  Some strategies we should consider are having:

  • books that are composed in different languages and authentically show different customs, cultures, and countries
  • apps that are accommodating to or are composed in different languages
  • open-ended tools that allow children and adults from different language backgrounds to be creative and expressive

Once we obtain these materials, it can be intimidating to use them.  If we’re not comfortable with another language, we may be hesitant to use the media and technology.  The desire to be “the keeper of knowledge and right answers” may override our intention to be culturally inclusive.  Online language resources and other technologies can help us move past this point to actually implementing the tools in the early childhood setting or home.

Hearing pronunciations and having opportunities to write and dialogue will make us more familiar with another language than only utilizing a translation dictionary.  Just as we would want children to properly pronounce words in our first language, we want them to do that with other languages we include in our early childhood setting and home.  Tools I have found helpful to use as an adult learner are:

These tools allow us to practice different languages so we can feel increasingly comfortable with it.  In addition to language resources, another fun way to help us pronounce words and learn languages are: listening to audio books, looking up children’s songs and popular tunes of that language and country on Spotify, and watching children and popular television shows on YouTube.  This blend of various sources will allow us to hear words multiple times in multiple contexts and pick up familiar phrases and songs to communicate with children and other adults.

When thoughtfully selected to authentically reflect diverse communities and cultures, these materials, both traditional and digital, can become rich learning tools for children and adults.  Bringing tools in the classroom and home to support global citizenship and awareness is an essential part of our role as early childhood professionals and parents.  When we bring these tools into our setting, we are conveying that it is important to learn about others and find ways to include different languages, customs, and cultures in our every day experiences.  This will also help children and us become better global citizens and build our knowledge of others.

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