LEARNING STRATEGY: Make Inferences
STANDARDS: Cultures 2.1, 2.2

ONE BIG (OR SMALL) HAPPY FAMILY

Language: Any language

Proficiency Level: Intermediate

Brief description of the activity: Students describe a set of pictures of a family (or families) in the target culture engaged in activities. Then they make inferences about family life in the country, based on the pictures.

Objectives:

  1. Students will explore the role and structure of the family in the target culture and the relationships among family members.
  2. Students will develop oral communication.
  3. Students will review vocabulary about family.
  4. Students will be able to think about what they see and to draw conclusions on their own without being dependent on their teacher and others.

Language focus: Speaking, Listening

Materials: Pictures of families in the target culture

Procedures:

  1. Introduce the content
    Hold up a picture of a family in the target culture. In pairs, the students describe what they see in the picture (encourage learners to use the vocabulary they learned about family and relationships earlier this year).
  2. Introduce and model the learning strategy
    Show another picture of a family and make an inference about the culture of the people in the picture. For example,
    "This looks like a family. I see several generations - young children, parents, grandparents. I can infer that family is important, that extended families enjoy spending time together. Everyone is wearing colorful clothes. I can infer that people in this culture like to wear brightly-colored clothes. It is night and I see children playing. I can infer that children stay up late in this culture."
    Explain that we can Make Inferences to help us understand better. In this case we are making inferences about culture. We can also make inferences about a reading or listening based on images, titles or headlines and key words.

    NOTE: Inferences, both yours and those of the students, might or might not be true. Make it clear that it is easy to fall into the trap of making inferences that perpetuate stereotypes. The inferences need to be verified by further investigation and a deeper understanding of the target culture, which is among the goals of foreign language learning.
  3. Practice
    Show the remaining pictures of target culture families. In pairs, have the learners describe and discuss what they see in each picture. Then, as a class, go through each picture again and invite students to make their own inferences about the target culture.

Expansion

  1. Have the learners write descriptive captions for each of the pictures.
  2. Learners bring in pictures of their own families (or famous American families) and describe them for the class.
  3. Encourage students to make inferences about the culture in many ways, for example, by reading a newspaper in the target language, listening to local TV news, or listening to a dialogue between two native speakers about a sports event.

Teacher Resources (to help teacher enhance activity):
Invite native speakers of the language to come to class and talk about cultural subjects.