Why do holidays and festive days play an important role for learning English in Agora?

By: Craig Thomas

In Ágora, we love holidays and celebrating festive days with our students.  Aside from being fun and an opportune moment to change classroom routines and topics, they are very essential in the process of language acquisition.  There are two very notorious explanations that can help us understand the role of these events in our English language program which in turn helps us apply them as strategies for the students’ development. 

The first point is that holidays come from a cultural root which has a very homologous relationship with language.  Language is complexly intertwined with culture.   Language teaching means, inevitably, language and cultural teaching. According to Buttjest, “Culture learning is actually a key factor in being able to use and master a foreign linguistic system.”  Learning a language is therefore learning the behavior of a given society and its cultural customs. An individual language speaker’s effectiveness in a foreign language is directly related to his/her understanding of the culture of that language (Taylor, 1979)

The second element that is essential is to recognize the purpose of learning a language. If language is connected to culture, then we must understand and agree that the true purpose of language, simply put, allows us to express our thoughts and feelings; it allows us to communicate and share knowledge with one another. Language is an expression of who we are as individuals, communities, nations.   Therefore, in a second language acquisition environment, all teaching must invite and promote communication; if not, the true purpose of language has been lost.  Maintaining evident this relationship that communication has with culture will provide a classroom environment in which language can be developed, observed, and learned. 

So, in Agora, let’s celebrate!  Let’s celebrate our diversity and culture while expanding our knowledge of others and strengthening our relationships, and while doing so, let’s motivate and engage our students, as a united community, to increase our understanding and communication skills of the English language.   

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