Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom

July 10–28, 2023
Asynchronous* 3-week online summer institute

Kaishan Kong

Transformative learning often happens when people experience cultural and linguistic contact with people different from themselves. This institute will explore how to make these experiences happen in and through classrooms. We will explore a wide range of tools for understanding self and 'others' without falling into stereotypes or reductive simplifications. While cultivating deeper understanding on how language-culture-identity informs our teaching, we will envision ways to integrate culture and language learning that include authentic materials and inter- and transcultural habits of mind. Throughout the course, participants will be engaged in constructive conversation, hands-on practice, and reflection. In the end, participants will be able to conceptualize culture teaching in ways that suit their teaching and learning context.

Program Schedule
Week 1 Culturally-Oriented Language Teaching
  • Exploring Teacher Cultural Selves in the Teaching Process
  • (Re)framing Culture and Culture Learning
What Cultural Understanding Looks Like: Focus on the Learner
  • Envisioning Objectives for Culture Learning
  • Moving from Language ProÞciency to Intercultural Competence
  • Raising Essential Questions
  • Assessing Culture Learning
Week 2 How to Integrate Culture and Language: Topics, Texts, Tasks
  • Complicating Culture Through Intersectionalities
  • Integrating Culture through Content-Based Instruction
  • Using Insider Authentic Texts
  • Deciding What Culture(s) to Teach
Week 3 How to Explore Culture 
  • Enhancing Intercultural Communicative Competence Using Various Models
  • Evaluating and Adapting the Culture Content of Textbooks
Culture Learning in Action
  • Sharing Lessons and Lessons Learned
  • Devising an Action Plan for Curriculum Revision

After this institute, you will be able to:

  • Bring everyday culture into language instruction;

  • Apply common frameworks of culture and culture learning;

  • Create integrated language-and-culture learning objectives and lessons;

  • Use authentic materials for teaching culture; and

  • Assess culture learning.


Kaishan Kong is an Associate Professor of Chinese at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Second Language Education. She has taught language and cultural courses in both China and the United States. Her research interests include second language acquisition, mediated learning in study abroad, intercultural communication, and teacher training. Kaishan has taught the STARTALK Program and the CARLA summer Institute program for more than 10 years. She was recognized as both a Fulbright Scholar finalist (2020) and a Wisconsin Teaching Fellow (2015) for her teaching and research in language and culture. 

Target Audience
This institute is suited for elementary school to postsecondary foreign language, ESL/EFL, indigenous teachers. It is also suited to immersion teachers and teacher educators.


  • This institute is primarily asynchronous (not real time). For the most part, you will work on activities according to your own schedule during the week but there are preset deadlines for activities. 
  • You must keep up with assignments each week as they build on each other. Many assignments involve facilitation from the instructor and/or collaboration with other participants. 
  • This institute includes three required synchronous sessions (Central Time):
    • First day synchronous meet-and-greet: Monday, July 10, 8–9 a.m.
    • Group discussion: Friday, July 21, 8–9 a.m.
    • Last day synchronous goodbye meeting: Friday, July 28, 8–9 a.m.
  • This institute includes two optional Q&A synchronous sessions per week:
    • Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8–9 a.m.
  • Make sure you can meet the tech requirements for this institute.

Priority Teacher Professional Development Scholarship Program–NEW!

Logo - PriorityThe Priority Teacher Professional Development Scholarship program is designed to promote equity and access to affordable professional development for world language educators who are currently teaching at a Community College, Minority Serving Institution, or Historically Black College/University in the United States and/or are currently teaching a Less Commonly Taught Language in the United States. The program provides funding for selected teachers in these categories to attend a CARLA Summer Institute for no charge.

Learn more and apply by March 17, 2023 on the Priority Teacher Professional Development Scholarship website.

Quote MarksRight quote marksI enjoyed this course and learned much from every reading, activity, instructor, and participant. The content was well-organized and focused on real scenarios. It helped me reflect on my identity, cultural background, and previous experience with other cultures. I highly recommend it!
Rebeca Espinosa, 2022 Institute Participant
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