Skip to main content

Disciplinary Resources

Culture
Language
Literature
Writing

Suggested Activities

Compare and Contrast Current Events

Encourage students to compare and contrast coverage of current events in the USA and the target culture before class, then discuss in class (using the think-pair-share model)

Project-Based Approaches

Require students, either on their own or in small groups, to give a presentation, write a newspaper article, produce a film, create a website, etc. that builds on their research and accomplishes a course learning outcome: https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl

Problem Solving

Invite students to study and propose localized solutions to contemporary problems in the target country or culture. (Here is an example of cultural problems via Stanford that has a decidedly PoliSci focus, but similar projects could be created for our courses: http://web.stanford.edu/class/msande298/problem-statements.html )

Business Case Studies

If it makes sense for your course, you could have students work through a case study of a company in the target culture. Harvard Business Publishing ( https://hbsp.harvard.edu/cases/ ) features businesses from all over the world and these can provide an interesting window into the foreign culture. The bookstore can help you acquire these for your classes. You may also invite your students to use Hofstede’s cultural dimensions ( https://www.hofstede-insights.com/product/compare-countries/ ) to help them analyze the cultural differences embedded in foreign businesses.

Online Resources
These resources are either free or available to your students through BYU's institutional subscriptions.
data-content-type=""
A digital collection of over 700,000 fine art images, many available in high definition
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type=""
A collection of over 2 million tracks from the world's leading producer of Classical music, featuring streaming and customizable playlists
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type=""
The film streaming service of the College of Humanities
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type=""
Streaming access to over 600 performances of the Metropolitan Opera
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type=""
A digital library featuring complete theatrical texts, readings, and recorded performances
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type=""
Over 500 museums and other cultural institutions that offer online access to their collections
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText=
Assessing understanding of key concepts prior to class.
Assess Understanding
Evaluate students' understanding before class, saving class time for activities that students can't do independently. ( Google Forms , Poll Everywhere , Socrative , Triventy )
Building relationships throughout the course.
A young man smiles during a video conference call.
Relationship-building activities can provide conversation practice while helping students feel more connected to you, peers, and the course itself.
  • Getting-to-Know You Activities
  • Question of the Day
  • Class Openers
  • Cooperative Learning & Team-building Activities
  • Writing & Reflection Activities

Creating interactive, in-class learning experiences.
A young man plays a learning game on his mobile device.
Plan frequent changes of activity to keep students engaged with one another and the content.
  • Breakout rooms in Zoom
  • Guest speakers
  • Peer instruction (students prepare and present content)
  • Role plays
  • Service learning (students learn by serving others)
  • Simulations

Devoting time to concrete, multisensory, physical activities and encourage social interaction.
A young woman stretches and enjoys some fresh air outdoors in the sunshine.
Increase the sense of physical presence and spontaneous social interaction with these strategies:
  • Incorporate multisensory methods and materials (e.g., use images and sound effects as prompts for speaking and writing)
  • Invite physical movement (e.g., 30-second energizers, such as culturally authentic fingerplays, dance breaks, stretch breaks, or yoga poses.
  • Use physical objects to signal understanding (e.g., hold up objects when they hear vocab. words, show prepositions using stuffed animals, etc.).
  • Use total physical response (especially from the waist up)

Engaging students in sustained inquiry and practice with content throughout the week.
A young woman takes a photograph

Literature Courses


Consider limiting large group discussions and focusing more on small group conversations focused on student readings and student papers (something like the tutorial system in the UK)

Use reading questions that students answer individually and then discuss asynchronously in Digital Dialog (Learning Suite) or together in Breakout Rooms (Zoom).

A pile of books sits next to a blank notebook and pen.

Emphasize student outcomes—what do students produce?—and organize activities that lead them step by step toward that (e.g. break down how to write a literary analysis: introductory paragraph, body paragraph, a conclusion and have them work in groups writing samples of each in Google Docs or in Digital Dialog).

This writing guide from the French and Italian Department shares ideas of how to teach writing in a literature or culture course.

Writing Courses

Setting expectations and avoiding overload

Take advantage of moments when you are addressing the entire class (synchronous class sessions, group emails) to create clear expectations, focus on general principles or problems, and explain assignments. Create a class FAQ for assignments and provide examples of sample work. If one student emails you with a question about an assignment, consider sending the response out to the entire class (keeping the original sender anonymous, of course). Save yourself the dozens of individual emails from students all asking the same question!

Use regular informal writing as a way to create community

Writing can help create a sense of place for students and can help them feel that they belong to a group. Use discussion boards, chats, Google docs, Slack, and other online formats to facilitate interactions between you and your students and between students and other students. Written communication can be especially helpful in building community if your writing is warm, inviting, and conversational.

Use regular informal writing to assess learning

In online classes, you’ll see more of your students’ writing than ever before—formal and informal assignments and daily communication through email, chats, and other messaging platforms. You can use these interactions to assess learning. For example, you might ask students to send you a memo about their learning after a synchronous meeting or a short progress memo reporting on their paper or project. Intentionally designed communication assignments give students opportunities to write in new genres and give you important information about their learning. You can find ideas for exploratory, write-to-learn activities online or in John Bean’s excellent book Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom.

Pay attention to all student writing

Because you’ll see more of your students’ writing, you can get a better sense of who they are as writers. As you see more texts (and more variety of texts), you can note patterns in students’ writing. Use these patterns to guide your responses to their formal writing assignments. Look for patterns to praise and areas where they can improve.

Respond promptly and often

Giving prompt feedback on drafts and graded assignments is even more important in online classes than in face-to-face classes. Students need a sense of where they should be going with a paper, how close they are to getting there, and what they should do next to reach the goal. Frequent feedback can keep them on track. This feedback can be short, focusing only on what students need at that point in the writing process. All feedback should be a conversation between you and your student. If you give written feedback or record feedback for asynchronous viewing, ask students to respond to your comments. Design activities that direct students to do something with your feedback. And then respond again.

More ideas

Here is a collection of useful tips for online teaching put together by BYU University Writing: https://uwlibrary.byu.edu/resources-for-teaching-online/

Other resources

  • Great Writers Inspire – A series of resources organized by writers and by themes that include links to e-books, images, talks, videos, and other materials that can be freely incorporated into courses under Creative Commons licenses.
  • Open Access Textbooks on Writing
  • Readings on Writing ( Volume 1 , Volume 2 )
  • Writing Commons – An “encyclopedia” of information about various aspects of writing, including the composing process, genre, information literacy, rhetoric, and style. Also includes links to course materials and assignments from courses on business writing, technical writing, and others.