Teaching American Culture In Kindergartens Cultural Studies Essay

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In the centre of my assignment there are two very important things in life: children and culture. In the days of video games, iPhones, iPads…etc we find it hard to keep the old habits and customs of our countries, also to make children to be interested in other cultures. It is never too early to get to know the World. The boarders are disappearing between countries and people. In the century of the communicational boom without foreign languages we can easily get lost. That is why I feel it important to start learning languages in the first year of nursery school. Also language comes hand in hand with culture which can help them to grow up with an opened mind. A lot of different opinions are going around about American culture, although I find it very rich, colourful and fun for children as well. During this concept I would understandably separate our and the American culture, but give high importance for both.

" I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible."

- Gandhi

My thesis is about how we can transmit American culture into kindergartens. I would like to teach English in nursery school, but there are no guidelines what I could teach or how I can build American culture into the 3-6 years' everyday life using the target language. I am trying to find the best methods to make it easier for the children to learn and understand the culture of America. My aim is to find the most exciting and interesting way to pump foreign culture in their blood.


I am going to represent panoramic view how we can transmit the culture. What methods we can use, what topics we can talk about, which activity and games I can use for teaching the American culture for young children. In case there are any potential mistakes of teaching it, I am going to introduce what are these. I would plan a project week in one topic to give an example how we can teach the culture, then I will summarize my experiences about the week.

Main theme

Chapter 1: Review of the Literature

The definition of culture I am going to represent it in a lot of different ways, not always comparing two countries.

Culture and the language


The American culture

The American cultural life

Rhymes, riddles, songs, music, stories which can transmit culture to the children

Holidays which can introduce the country cultural life

Chapter 3: The way we can teach American culture in kindergarten

Theory in practice. The topic of the week is about an American custom/tradition or holiday.

Aim of the week

Planning the week



The result of the week


General Discussion/ Conclusion

Main Theme

Chapter 1: Review of the literature

Culture definition:

The focus of my thesis is on kindergarten and the American culture relation. First of all we have to make clear what culture means. Is it something material you can touch? Or is it something immaterial, such as values and beliefs? Or is it our customs and traditions, our festivals and celebrations?

The early language teaching gives us an opportunity to give and teach information, details about the target language culture. But this culture is different then the culture which we teach to the older youngster. For children culture means the everyday routine, and those things which can pass into their world like animals, places, food, songs, games...etc.

Culture is a highly complex phenomenon. "The National Center for Cultural Competence defines culture as an 'integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, languages, practices, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies, rituals, manners of interacting and roles, relationships and expected behaviors of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group; and the ability to transmit the above to succeeding generations'" (Goode, Sockalingam, Brown, & Jones, 2000)

Kramsch (1998) describes culture as "membership in a discourse community that shares a common social space and history, and common imaginings" (p. 10). Liddicoat, Papademetre, Scarino and Kohler (2003) define culture as a complex system of concepts, attitudes, values, beliefs, conventions, behaviors, practices, rituals and lifestyles of the people who make up a cultural group, as well as the artifacts they produce and the institutions they create.(p. 45) http://e-flt.nus.edu.sg/v6n12009/ho.pdf

We can define the culture in lot of different way but now in my thesis I will approach it from two ways. In languages, we talk about "big C" and "little c" culture. "Big C" culture means that for example we know about the country famous works of art, music's, literature and the great moments in the culture's history. The Little C culture means the features of everyday life, the social mores, the popular culture, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies, rituals...etc.

1.2. Culture and the language


"There is no way avoid teaching culture when teaching language; they go together like Sears & Roebuck or Mark & Spencer "Joyce Valde

1.2.1. Why is culture important to language learning?

Language and culture have an inextricable and interdependent relationship. Mitchell and Myles (2004) argue that "language and culture are not separate, but are acquired together, with each providing support for the development of the other" (p. 235). The relationship between language and culture is made meaningful in language learning as "the person who learns language without learning culture risks becoming a fluent fool" (Bennett, Bennett & Allen, 2003, p. 237)

1.2.2 What can be used to introduce culture in the language classroom?

Claire Kramsch points out: "At the intersection of multiple native and target cultures, the major task of language learners is to define for themselves what this 'third place' that they have engaged in seeking will look like, whether they are conscious of it or not (1993)."

How to use these:

In order for students to understand the culture of the TL (C2) as separate and distinct from their own culture (C1), they need to be able to engage with authentic materials, like those listed above, and not simply be exposed to them. In other words, playing a song from the C2 as students enter is a good way to set the mood for a class, but it isn't exposing the students to the culture in a meaningful way. In order for the experience and exposure to be meaningful, there must be some discussion or additional activities used on conjunction with the authentic material in order to push students towards a deeper understanding of the C2.

Providing students with the opportunity to learn from and engage with the material is easier with some of the above mentioned materials than with others. For example, commercials, films, music videos, and news casts (i.e. material that is both visual and active) present elements of the C2 in a relatively overt and obvious way that could more easily allow students to discuss how the culture is being represented and what differences exist between C1 and C2. Other materials, like pictures and photographs, are more difficult to use in an effective way that demonstrates the C2 in action.

Art work


Videos/movies (made in the original country)

Music videos

News casts


Field trips










Authentic materials(Materials used by native speakers)

Pod casts Methology

Cultural simulations

Another very efficient way for culture learning is that teachers can create cultural simulations

for learners to explore the target culture in the classroom

Creating an authentic environment

To arouse learners' interest, motivation and curiosity for culture learning, teachers and learners can decorate their classrooms with cultural images of the target culture. For example, teachers and learners can bring photos of families from different cultures or posters and pictures of some typical types of British food and drinks to make a culture wallchart (Tomalin & Stempleski, 1993) in the classroom. This technique is known as the culture island (Hughes, 1986) which aims at "attracting student attention, eliciting questions and comments" (p. 168) for culture learning

Comparisons and reflections

When comparing cultures, learners need to have an understanding of their own culture first as no-one can be sure to know enough about his/her own culture. This is an important starting point for learners to gradually decentre from their own culture (Byram, 1989; Kramsch, 1993)

Role Play

In role plays, students can act out a miscommunication that is based on cultural differences. For example, after learning about ways of addressing different groups of people in the target culture, such as people of the same age and older people, students could role play a situation in which an inappropriate greeting is used. Other students observe the role play and try to identify the reason for the miscommunication. They then role play the same situation using a culturally appropriate form of address.

The American Culture

Who are these "Americans"? What makes them act the way they do? How can you tell whether or not puzzling American behaviour is because of cultural conflict or individual differences? http://www.yale.edu/oiss/life/cultural/americans/

I found a test about American culture. It proves if you answer whit yes for these questions you are American. The questions are about their behaviour, habits, everyday life and their history. I copy a part of the test which can represent us a little part of the American cultural life.

Everybody knows that http://www.zompist.com/amercult.html

Mustard comes in jars. Shaving cream comes in cans. Milk comes in plastic jugs or cardboard boxes, and occasionally in bottles.

The date comes second: 11/22/63. (And you know what happened on that date.)

The decimal point is a dot. Certainly not a comma.

A billion is a thousand times a million.

Once you're introduced to someone (well, besides the President and other lofty figures), you can call them by their first name.

You seriously expect to be able to transact business, or deal with the government, without paying bribes.

Just about any store will take your credit card.

A company can fire just about anybody it wants, unless it discriminates by doing so.

You like your bacon crisp (unless it's Canadian bacon, of course).

Labor Day is in the fall.

The American cultural life

The most important holidays in the year http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/Federal_Holidays.pdf

A public holiday or national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year. Sovereign nations and territories observe holidays based on events of significance to their history. Many government offices are closed on federal holidays and some private businesses may close as well.

New Year's Day

Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

St. Valentine's day

President's Day

St' Patrick's Day

April Fools' Day


Memorial Day

Mother's Day and Father's Day

Flag Day

Independence Day

Labor Day

Columbus Day


Veterans Day


Christmas Day

New Year's Eve


There are many commonly observed celebrations in the United States that are not federal holidays. Some of these observances honor groups of people, such as National African American History Month and Women's History Month, or causes, such as National Oceans Month and National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Many of these holidays and observances are proclaimed by the President ever year.

Festivals and fairs


Each part of the U.S has its own festivals. There are many festivals around the year; some are only for a day, while others last for a few months. These festivals have their own special food, drink, music, and entertainment.

Further I do not want to enumerate all the festivals that are held in the Unites States but I think I have to mention the biggest the oldest the most famous festival which name is Mardi Gras. There are big parades which are almost takes for two week. Through the procession everyone shout "Throw me something Mister" and they have to fight if they want to catch the small present.

The history of Mardi Gras


The history of Mardi Gras began long before Europeans set foot in the New World. In mid February the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus like festival not entirely unlike the Mardi Gras we are familiar with today. Mardi Gras came to America in 1699 with the French explorer Iberville. Mardi Gras had been celebrated in Paris since the Middle Ages, where it was a major holiday.

Because of the French and Spanish colonial history of the settlements, the earliest Carnival celebrations occurred in Mobile, Biloxi, New Orleans, and Pensacola, which have each developed separate traditions. Nowadays there are Mardi Gras celebrations all over the country but the oldest and famous carnival takes place in New Orleans in Dixieland which is the town French quarter. The carnival celebrations, beginning on/or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday.

Patriotic symbols

The American flag Stars and Straps

The Continental Colours or the Grand Union Flag has historically been referred as the first national flag of the United State. The original flag, known as "Old Glory," displayed 13 stars to represent the original 13 states when the nation declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. Since 1777 the flag has been modified officially 26 times.

Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white.

The stripes represent the original 13 colonies. The flag has 50 stars which are represent the 50 states. The last two stars were added in 1959, when Hawaii and Alaska joined to the union. the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colours of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valour, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.

Statue of liberty

The Statue of Liberty is located in New York. The Statue of Liberty symbolizes freedom throughout the world. The Statue was actually a gift from the people of France. The Statue represents a woman escaping the chains of tyranny. She holds a torch, which represents liberty. The Statue's full name is Liberty Enlightening the World.

The bald eagle:

It is became the national emblem of the United States in 1782. The word "bald" comes from the word piebald, an old word which means "marked with white." There have been dissenters who feel the bird was a wrong choice. Benjamin Franklin thinks it has a bad moral character, and he was against the eagle. He would rather prefer the turkey which is "a much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America."

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam is used as a synonym of the United States government. He is born through the War of 1812 according to legend he was supposedly named for Samuel Wilson. His character changed a lot with the time, but James Montgomery Flagg created the iconic illustration of Uncle Sam. It is the most common illustration in the United State. If we want to describe Uncle Sam looks we should imagine an old tall man whit gray hair and goateed. His clothes colours refer the colour of the United State flag; he is wearing striped trouser, a blue jacket, a red bow tie, a white shirt and his inevitable hat with the stars.

The Star-Spangled Banner

It has been the national anthem of the United State since 3rd of March, 1931 when President Herbert Hoover signed the law that adopted it as the national anthem. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", the poem written in 1814 from an amateur poet Francis Scott Key's pen. The poem was set to the tune by John Stafford Smith.


What can Americans do in their free time?

It is easy for them if they live in a big city like New York. There you can find everything what can make your day and night enjoyable. The Broadway has the best, the biggest, the brightest, and the most famous shows in the world. What about the cinemas? There is a big culture of the film making. There are cinemas everywhere even in the small towns has a movie feather. Hollywood is or was the capital of the movies. Nowadays you can visit the big studios where famous films were making. After we mention Hollywood and film making we have to talk about Walt Disney and his cartoons. In the United States in California in 1955 Disneyland opened its doors for the younger and older range. I think almost everybody knows his name, and I think every child who's heard about Disneyland dream about to visit it once. Another way to spend a nice day is to go bars where you can enjoy music. Americans have given many forms of music to the world. New Orleans was the centre of the newborn jazz. "A certain kind of paradox is built into jazz music," says Early. "You had people who created a music that's really celebrating democratic possibilities: liberation, freedom of the spirit, a soaring above adversities - who really hadn't experienced everything that democratic society, had to offer, but you could look around and see the promise embedded in the society. Jazz is a kind of lyricism about the great American promise and our inability to live up to it." In the south of the country we can hear country music. Tennessee, Nashville is the centre of the country music. The Grand Ole Opry was take place here. It has called "home of American music", and it became an American icon since 1925. It is a weekly country music stage concert which is magnetizes hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world. If you hear a good music it is forbidden to sit and stay. Square dancing is the most traditional American dance. In The Complete Book of Square Dancing, Betty Casey writes: "The square dance is uniquely American. ...The format, many of the folk dances movements, and the terminology incorporated into the square dance were brought by early emigrants from other countries to the United States. Borrowed bits from foreign dances such as French quadrilles, Irish jigs, English reels, and Spanish fandangos have blended with American folkways and customs into the square dance."

Foods drinks http://travelfoodanddrink.com/north-america/usa/

It seems to me after patriotism just their food love is bigger. American food is a little bit Italian, British, Mexican, Chinese, Spanish and so on. The United State is the nation of immigrants whose came from every corner of the world, that's why their cook traditions are so colourful. Even so there are some food and drinks which we can call American food or drink for example: Rocky Mountain oysters;  sirloin steak; Chicken, pork and corn;   Booker T. Washington's crowning achievement, peanut butter;  cookie; popcorn, Clam Chowder; Barbecue/BBQ; Pancakes maple syrup; Coca-Cola and its competitors; fried chicken; cornbread; poppy seed muffin, and brownies, steak .

In the aspect of the culture, the meals are very important. The meals not just for take the edge off our appetite but it is a pleasant way to spent valuable time together. Unfortunately in our sweeping world the shared meals are going to reduce zero in the every day life. It is not otherwise in the United State which is most famous for "fast food". Busy and lazy people do not have time to cook at home, and so snacks, fast foods are becoming more popular among the people. But fortunately there are holidays which are making up people together. These events are important for the Americans too, they cook traditional meals or go to restaurant to spend time together.

I have already mentioned that Americans love their belly, why I think that?

While I making my research about there foods, drinks I found a list about the American food holidays. Most days of the year are proclaimed as national "food holidays" for example May 13th is the National Apple Pie Day. It is an important day because apple pie is one of a number of American cultural icons. Americans like to drink their beer and celebrate summer with burgers on the barbecue, but fast food and street food are also making their mark on the country and taking their place as a new kind of regional dish.


In the Americans life the sports has got a great significance, they take there place in it actively not just passively as viewer. I think we can say that in the United States the most popular sport is football. If we have a look at the Superbowl we can easily prove it. The Superbowl is the National Football League (NFL) championship. It is almost as celebrated as a nation holiday in the USA and hundreds of people watch the broadcasting in front of the television, moreover it is the most-watched club sporting events in the world. In the other hand baseball is almost as popular as football in the United States. It is played at the spring and the summer while football is played in the winter and the fall so there is a good reason for people to come together and watch sport channels all over the year. The last sport I would like to mention is the Basketball which is an original American invention from the nineteenth century. It has the popularity all over the world while Football and Baseball not so. In Hungary

At the big games there is lot of entertainment, parades, and concerts before, after and during the games. Professional games have big press coverage and lot of money was investing into them. Naturally they are big events but we should not forget the smaller local games. Each schools ha its own teams in each sport, and usually every team has its own cheerleader and there are little League teams for 7-12 years children too. These sport occasions give a good reasons to the families, friends and the all the people to come together and have a good time. Many families comes together at the weekend the play these sports in the parks. In the United States there are plenty of sports which children can do, and there is plenty of places where they can do them.

Everyday life

First of all we have to pin down that the follow in formations are not representative in every American people. I work from books, descriptions, and principally from my experiences. I have been in the United States two times, first when we make a month trip second when we were on a funeral in Phoenix.

First time they can be weird for a foreigner because of their hospitality and openness. Maybe they are friendlier then the Europeans.

American love to get together and have parties. Traditional party occasions are a birthday, July 4th,New Years Eve, Wedding,

Holidays which can introduce the country cultural life in kindergarten

Holidays are very important for the children because provide a sense of identity, teach cultural values, and create stability in their life. Sure if we teach foreign language in kindergarten we must not forget that the foreign culture can not keep down our culture.

For Columbus Day children in schools are taught about Christopher Columbus and some communities have parades.

For Thanksgiving children in schools are taught about the Pilgrims coming to America and the importance of giving thanks. Many families gather together and share a turkey feast.

For Dr. King Day children in schools learn about how he changed America.

For Memorial Day children in schools are taught to remember the soldiers who died for our country. Some communities have parades.

For Flag Day children in schools are taught American pride through the symbol of our flag.

For the July 4th children are taught before school leaves that that day is the birthday of America. Some communities have firework displays and some families have picnics.

Rhymes, riddles, songs, music, stories which can transmit culture to the children http://www.poetpatriot.com/poems-rhy.holidays.htm

Most people's first experience of poems comes in the form of nursery rhymes-the lullabyes, counting games, riddles and rhymed fables that introduce us to the rhythmic, mnemonic, allegorical uses of language in songs sung to us by our mothers. We can trace the original authors of only a few of these poems-most of them have been handed down from mother to child for generations, and were only recorded in print in collections long after their first appearance in the language (the dates below indicate first known publication).

Here are a few of the best-known American nursery rhymes:


This rhyme is told on Groundhog Day, on February 2nd each year. Groundhog Day, the popular American holiday, has its roots in the European holiday Candlemas. Both recognize that it's the halfway point of Winter.

If the Groundhog Sees His Shadow



A Rhymed Chant & Rhythmic Dance

"A" My Name is Arlene

Ball Bouncing Rhyme

For holidays:

Everyday life:

A Peanut Sat

Children's Song



Traditional Song

Arizona Star


Halloween Song

Five Little Pumpkins

Halloween Song

Mr. Sun

Children's Song

Faces, Faces, Funny Faces

Halloween Song



Stories about


Chapter 3: The way we can teach American culture in kindergarten

Theory in practice. The topic of the week is about an American custom/tradition or holiday.

Aim of the week

I would like to represent the Thanksgiving to the children by making it playful for them. My aim is to give/transmit the aim of the holiday. I would like to

Planning the week



The result of the week


"Culture: learned and shared human patterns or models for living; day- to-day living patterns. These patterns and models pervade all aspects of human social interaction.

Culture is mankind's primary adaptive mechanism" p. 367.

Damen, L. (1987). Culture Learning: The Fifth Dimension on the Language Classroom. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

"Most social scientists today view culture as consisting primarily of the symbolic, ideational, and intangible aspects of human societies. The essence of a culture is not its artifacts, tools, or other tangible cultural elements but how the members of the group interpret, use, and perceive them. It is the values, symbols, interpretations, and perspectives that distinguish one people from another in modernized societies; it is not material objects and other tangible aspects of human societies. People within a culture usually interpret the meaning of symbols, artifacts, and behaviors in the same or in similar ways." Banks, J.A., Banks, & McGee, C. A. (1989). Multicultural education. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

A Naughty Pumpkin's Fate

Author Unknown

Fraidie Cat 

by Clinton Scollard

Good B's and Bad T's 

by Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr.

The Nine Little Goblins 

by James Whitcomb Riley

The Night Wind

by Eugene Field

Lady Button Eyes

by Eugene Field

The Little Green Orchard

by Walter de la Mare

Little Orphant Annie

by James Whitcomb Riley

Only Naughty Children See "Spooks" on Halloween 

by Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr.

Seein' Things

by Eugene Field

The Owl

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson



"The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.

 Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifes

What is American food?

Over the River and Through the Woods

Thanksgiving Song