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Teacher Feature: Alzbeta on Context and Culture in Language Teaching

Alzbeta Findlay is a trained linguist who began teaching for ICLS in 2012. In addition to being fluent in English, she is fully bilingual in Czech and Slovak, and is a qualified tester for these languages as well. She is an experienced educator who has taught language and culture to adults, young adults, and teens. She currently teaches Slovak to a Defense Language Institute student for ICLS. There are few instructional resources designed for adult learners of Slovak, so Alzbeta routinely incorporates authentic language resources in her classes to keep her students engaged with relevant content. After reading about Google Arts and Culture in ICLS’s Friday bulletin, she decided to explore the Slovak collection and was impressed with the number of resources she discovered. The Slovak collection features over 1700 annotated artifacts, 39 interactive stories where users can visit places in virtual reality, 18 collections of artworks, and 5 virtual museum visits. The art collections feature work by major Slovak artists as well as lesser-known artists from provinces.

Users have the option to tag their favorite pieces, create their own gallery, and can organize some of the art collection such as the Kysucká galéria below on a timeline or by color scheme:

Language instructor Alzbeta Findlay on context and culture in language teaching

Most of the annotations are in English, but Alzbeta uses the Favorite feature to assemble resources into her own collection. She can then go one step further and organize her favorites into galleries organized by themes or topics. English annotations are not readily visible in Favorites or in galleries, which helps keep her student in the target language.

Alzbeta is working on using the extensive Slovak collection to lead guided visits of interesting sites and introduce her student to relevant vocabulary words in context. See, for example, this interactive visit of Slovakian caves.

After introducing her student to Google Arts and Culture, Alzbeta asked her student to select six works of art chosen from the Slovak collection and prepare a presentation. In his presentation, the student introduced each item, explained why he chose it and what he liked about it. Her student very much appreciated this infusion of media and art into their lessons and Alzbeta will continue leveraging these and additional online resources in the future.

Learn more about using teacher tools online (including ChatGPT for language teachers) at our Teacher PD tech workshops.

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