Cross-Cultural Exchanges in the Classroom


Viktor, a Swedish 4th grader, carefully rehearsed his lines before stepping in front of the camera. “Astrid Lindgren, a famous Swedish cross-cultural-exchanges-in-thauthor, has written many books, including Pippi Långstrump, or Longstocking, as Pippi is called in English.”

Watching Viktor and his classmates, I could feel the excitement in the air. After selecting interesting tidbits of cultural knowledge, translating the information from Swedish to English, and practicing their speeches before the camera, the students were ready to record and publish a video with facts about their country. A few days later, 4th grade students in Atlanta watched the video and quickly reciprocated—sending pictures and videos from their recent Halloween celebration, along with a verbal account of the custom.

The ongoing partnership between students in Växjö, Sweden, and Atlanta began a few months ago in an effort to foster students’ global awareness. The two classes regularly share documents, videos, and images in Google Drive and “meet” live via Zoom, an online video application. The students exchange information about their respective countries, customs, and cultures, and they teach one another Swedish and English. In short, the project encourages creativity, tolerance, and communication.

We live in an interesting time when classroom walls no longer have to limit students’ learning experiences. To prepare global-ready students who will create, compete, and collaborate on an international scale, teachers must cultivate students’ global competence through authentic experiences and projects. This does not need to be complicated and time-consuming. In my article Beyond Your Classroom’s Walls in the December/January issue of Educational Leadership, I offer several instructional ideas for preparing global-ready students like Viktor.

Lotta Larson is a teacher-educator at Kansas State University. She spent the Fall 2016 semester in Sweden helping teachers and students develop global and digital competencies. Follow her on Twitter @LottaLarson2.