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MIT student blogger Anthony R. '09

Cultura by Anthony R. '09

MIT students use online collaboration with their French counterparts to learn about each other's cultures.

Well, you probably saw Mitra’s entry mentioning Senior Lecturer Gilberte Furstenberg (teacher of French III, a class we’re both taking). The homework I’m doing right now is part of a unit called Cultura, where we correspond with university students learning English at l’Ecole Polytechnique and l’IUP in Paris.

So far, we’ve done word associations and sentence completions, where we at MIT enter (in English) what first comes to mind when we see words and sentences related to work, money, food, culture, and other staples of daily life. The French students do the same in their own language, and we compare and contrast the different responses to gain perspectives in the other country.

It’s interesting to see the different sorts of things that come to mind when we think of a “good job,” for example, in comparison to what comes to the mind of a French student. We consider these observations, ask for clarification and chat with the French students on a discussion board.

Probably one of the most striking differences in perspective we found was the idea of “suburbs”…

In France, suburbs are often dangerous — a stark contrast to the American idea of them being nice places to settle down, live and raise a family. Basically, the Cultura system highlights the way we think about various things we take for granted, and it’s been a useful way to bridge the gaps of our cultures.

6 responses to “Cultura”

  1. Mikey Yang says:

    Wow…that’s really cool! Can I come to class with you and Mitra? : P (Too bad I don’t know an ounce of French…haha)

  2. Mike says:

    I found when I was studying AP Human Geography and then my trip to Europe that their development is backwards of ours. the desireable place to live is the city, because between cities is basically nothingness, atleast in Germanic countries. Very interesting and cool program, do other languages have this kind of correspondence at MIT?

  3. Anthony says:

    Yep, Cultura is used for several languages, including German. And while MIT was the first to implement this technology, it has spread to many other schools as well. smile

  4. xuegang.lin says:

    Oh!The idea is very interesting.

  5. Guyomar says:

    That is just wonderful. Fascinating. I love France, and everything to do with french culture. Vive la france! Tres sympa, j’adore ce que vous faites, c’est vraiment enrichissant d’apprendre tous ensemble. C’est comme ca que le monde devrait etre – les gens devraient laisser les differences culturelles les rapprocher au lieu de les eloigner. . .Il me semble qu’il y a deja certains qui suivent le bon chemin…