Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom

July 15–August 2, 2024
Asynchronous* 3-week online summer institute

Note: This summer institute has three required synchronous meetings. See details below.

Instructor Kong
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 Profciency 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
  • 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, participants 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 a version of this institute through STARTALK and CARLA for more than 15 years. She co-edited a book titled Intercultural Citizenship in Language Education: Teaching and Learning Through Social Action, published by Multilingual Matters in 2023.

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 15, 8–9 a.m.
    • Group discussion: Friday, July 26, 8–9 a.m.
    • Last day synchronous goodbye meeting: Friday, August 2, 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

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 on the Priority Teacher Professional Development Scholarship website.

Quote MarksRight quote marksThe Culture as Core course through CARLA has given me practical tools that I can apply in my classroom. Many of the concepts that we studied during this course have helped to reshape my thinking about how I develop and implement unit plans in my classes. I am excited to take what I have learned and make my curriculum more culture centered. The best part will be seeing how my students engage with these lessons. I can't wait!
Caitlin Mahoney, 2023 Institute Participant
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