The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (ACTFL, 2014) encourage teachers to help their students use the target language to “investigate, explain, and reflect” on the relationships between cultural products, practices, and perspectives. However, while most language instructors agree that language and culture should be connected, many fail to teach culture explicitly because they are so focused on the language components of their courses. Of those who do teach culture explicitly, many either teach only about the cultural products and not the perspectives, or they teach the culture in English because of its complexity. This project explores the use of e-portfolios for explicitly teaching culture in the target language across all three communicative modes. The project was implemented in a 4th semester university Spanish course in the fall of 2013. Students were required to view and interpret culturally authentic materials such as newspapers, proverbs, documentaries, news reports, and videos about pop culture. In addition, students interacted with native speakers both within and outside the United States using technology. Students were also asked to produce business plans, commentaries, community projects, ethnographic interviews, stories, and videos in the target language. The project evaluation revealed that when culture is explicitly taught in the target language, the following changes may occur: a positive attitudinal shift towards the target culture, a desire for learning the language beyond the classroom, an increase in autonomous learning, and an improvement in linguistic skills. Pedagogical implications and principles that might be applicable in foreign language instruction include the fact that technology appears to be one promising way to provide increased access to culture. In addition, scaffolding is found to be important to both students' experiences with culture and their interaction with technology. Also students may find the exploration of current social issues and problems very motivating and engaging. This has the potential to give students increased opportunities to think critically.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





Cultural awareness, project-based learning, technology integration, technology implementation, TPACK, 21st century skills, foreign language teaching, digital literacy, digital citizenship