I’ve compiled several “The Best…” lists that share sites where you can learn about the geography, data, languages, and holidays of different countries around the world. Those resources are important, but I think it’s like learning the words, but not the music, of a song.
So I thought I’d develop a separate list just focused on helping students learn about the cultures of different countries, and would love to hear additional suggestions.
You might also be interested in The Best Travel Photographs Of The Year.
Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures (and are accessible to English Language Learners):
Culture Crossing is a unique resource for information about different countries. It provides some basic demographics, but it also shares details about communication style, dress, gestures, etc. It’s unlike any other source of information about countries that’s on the web. I’ll certainly be having my students use it now when they develop reports about countries.
What The World Eats is a TIME Magazine slideshow with family photos from around the world and the food they eat.
Food Photos is a similar slideshow from NPR.
Here are portraits of 30 statistically average families with all of their worldly possessions displayed outside their homes.
TOPICS is an online magazine for English Language Learners, and has articles and photos on the cultures of many different countries.
Speaking of homes, you might be interested in a lesson I did having students compare homes from their native countries with those in the United States. I wrote about it at Air Conditioning Science Lesson.
Learn about Celebrations Around The World.
EL Civics has a nice lesson on Clothes Around The World.
11 School Lunches from around the World shows what the title describes, along with additional information about how the actual school lunch process works in each country.
World Music at National Geographic is a must-see site.
You can learn about different musical instruments at the Glossary of Folk Musical Instruments & Styles from Around the World and the World Instrument Gallery.
The World’s Harvests is a slideshow from Time Magazine. It shows images from around the world of farmers harvesting various crops.
Where children sleep is the title of a book and a slideshow from The Telegraph showing images of children’s bedrooms from around the world — and the obviousness inequities.
Here are two similar infographics, though these are interactive. They look pretty neat though, I have to say, they may bee a little too wild for some students to easily understand (well, they were tricky for me, at least). And they both have the same title — Interactive Colors In Culture. And here’s the other one.
ViewChange.Org has some pretty amazing short videos from around the world. This is how it describes itself:
Using the power of video to tell stories about real people and progress in global development.
Believe me, that doesn’t even begin to tell you what’s there. It’s a project of a very impressive organization called Link TV, which has been on The Best Tools To Help Develop Global Media Literacy list for quite awhile.
UNESCO recently reviewed its “intangible heritage list, started in 2003 to preserve the world’s art forms and traditions from the onslaught of globalization.” The Telegraph has a slideshow illustrating some of the traditions it is considering.
World’s Strangest National Dishes is a good, but unfortunately named (it seems somewhat insulting to used the word “strange”), slideshow.
What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets is the title of a slideshow from The Telegraph. Here is how they describe it:
Husband-and-wife team Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, from California, spent three years and $1 million visiting 80 individuals around the world to document what they eat on a single day. The result is a contrasting picture of what people around the globe consume. With each image Menzel and D’Aluisio add context to the profiles with essays on food politics and cultural obsessions with diet. Here is a selection of images from the book.
“Around The World Via A Day’s Worth Of Foods” is a slideshow from TIME Magazine based on the same book.
U.S. Late To The Party On School Lunch Makeovers is the title of an NPR article and slideshow showing and describing school lunches from around the world.
First Person American is a neat website that has some resources now, but won’t be completely operational until July 4th. It has multimedia recounting the travels of modern immigrants to the United States. In addition, if you are somehow connected to an immigrant, but aren’t one yourself, you can share cultural-related memories.
Don’t Get Me Wrong! Global Gestures is a pretty neat slideshow from LIFE.
What School Lunches Look Like In 20 Countries Around The World is a nice post from BuzzFeed.
I’ve previously posted about extraordinary interactive infographics made by the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times that show how people in the United States spend their time. Now, The Economist has published a chart that compares and contrasts this kind of data among different countries.
Eric Lafforga has some amazing photographic portraits taken from around the world. Click on “Portfolio” and then a country. You’ll then be led to countless excellent photos.
Art Through Time: A Global View looks like a pretty amazing site from WNET. This is how the multimedia site describes itself:
Art Through Time: A Global View examines themes connecting works of art created around the world in different eras. The thirteen-part series explores diverse cultural perspectives on shared human experiences.
It would definitely be challenging to English Language Learners, but the site looks so good I’m still going to add it to this list.
Daily life in May around the world is a series of photos from The Sacramento Bee.
Even though I’m not thrilled at the BBC’s title for this slideshow, World’s weirdest festivals, I’m still adding it to this list.
The world’s favourite foods is a very interesting interactive map from The Guardian.
Kids Around the World offers stories of children from different countries.
I think the title of Slate’s slideshow is culturally insensitive, The world’s wackiest modes of public transportation, but the photos themselves are interesting.
Color My Ride is an interesting infographic from the Wall Street Journal examining the color of people’s cars in different countries (yes, you read that right).
“Conversations With The Earth” is a new site from the Smithsonian. Here’s how it describes itself:
This exhibition—the first of its kind devoted to indigenous science—provides a Native perspective on global climate change. Through photographs, video, and audio of tribal communities from the Arctic to Brazil, the environmental impact of pollution is found in the stories of imposed mitigation and its consequences on local livelihoods.
Conversations with the Earth offers the voices of the Earth’s traditional stewards in the search for a viable response to the challenges of climate change. In the words of Inupiat leader Patricia Cochran, chair of the Indigenous Peoples Global summit on Climate Change, “We are a harbinger of what is to come, what the rest of the world can expect.”
Rare Early Photographs of Musicians Around the World is from Brain Pickings. The post has links to even more great photos.
Breaking Bread Everywhere, Plentifully or Pitifully is a slideshow from The New York Times.
One Day On Earth is the amazing project where people all over the world made videos of what they did on the same day. Here’s a trailer to the movie but, more importantly, here is a link to the map where you can pick a video from just about anyplace in the world and watch it.
Though I wish they had come up with a different title, The world’s strangest festivals – in pictures is from The Guardian.
Where Children Sleep is the book’s website, and it has great photos of bedrooms throughout the world.
Sleepers is a photo gallery from The Boston Globe and it shows people…sleeping all around the world.
Moments of daily life around the world is a a photo gallery from The Sacramento Bee.
Photo Gallery: Pedestrian Signals Around the World comes from Spiegel Online.
A simple day in the life… is a slideshow from the Boston Globe.
From The Los Angeles Times:
“Life in a Day” is a groundbreaking film produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald that solicited user-generated content from around the world that was shot on July 24, 2010. With more than 80,000 videos from 197 countries, 4,500 hours of video was edited into a 94-minute portrait of the world. Google and YouTube have released the full-length feature for viewing before the release of the DVD
The Places We Live is an impressive multimedia presentation. This is how it’s described:
In 2008 more people live in cities than in rural areas. One third of city dwellers, more than a billion people, live in slums. In The Places We Live, Magnum photographer Jonas Bendiksen presents sixteen homes in four different slum areas: Caracas, Venezuela; Mumbai, India; Nairobi, Kenya; and Jakarta, Indonesia.
The exhibition, a unique multimedia installation, challenges viewers to reflect on what it means to live in a city in the 21st century. Bendiksen has visited four slums selected according to geographical spread and variation. He depicts various aspects of slum life, from worst-offs to slum chiefs.
Sesame Street International: 9 Notable Muppets From Around the World is from Mental Floss.
The BBC Close Up series features videos that:
…focus on aspects of life in countries and cities around the world. What may seem ordinary and familiar to the people who live there can be surprising to those who do not.
Unicef photos of the year 2011 is from The Guardian.
World’s Worst Cultural Mistakes is a pretty interesting slideshow from Travel and Leisure magazine.
Urban Survivors is a very well-done interactive examining four slums around the world.
A Girl And Her Room is a CNN slideshow of…girls and their rooms from around the world.
How Americans spend money, compared with other countries is a chart from The Washington Post.
The World Stories Project is “a growing collection of traditional and new stories representing the 21 most commonly spoken languages by children across the UK. These stories can be read, listened to and downloaded in English and their original language.” It also has an extensive collection of teacher resources, including lesson plans. And it’s all free!
We Are What We Eat is a pretty amazing interactive infographic on food habits in the U.S. and around the world.
A Day in the World: Snapshots of , for Tomorrow is a slideshow from TIME.
Never Seconds is blog written by a nine-year-old student in Scotland. She takes photos of her school lunches and evaluates them. In addition, students from other countries have begun sending her photos of their lunches, too. The BBC reports that she has now been banned from taking photos of the lunches — NeverSeconds blogger Martha Payne banned from taking school dinner photos. (also see another BBC story here). I think it’s a safe bet to say the ban will be reversed soon — the public uproar is extraordinary.
“What Eating At The Poverty Line Is Like Around The World” is a very interesting slideshow and project. The photos portray the food that a person in different countries can afford to purchase if they live in poverty.
Getting Around Town is a Wall Street Journal slideshow of transportation images from around the world.How do comics reflect the countries they were created in? is from The BBC. Shooting hoops around the world: Stunning pictures of basketball courts capture world’s workout below a single common hoop is from The Daily Mail. How Children Learn: Portraits of Classrooms Around the World is from Brain Picker. The Most Beautiful and Imaginative Public Schools in the World is from Flavorwire. Google autocomplete: The internet where you are is from The BBC. Chinese families’ worldly goods in Huang Qingjun’s pictures is from The BBC. The Fourth Grade Project: Life Through the Eyes of 7 Kids From Around the World is from The Huffington Post. Back to School: Classroom Portraits by Julian Germain is from TIME.
Clicking on “info” will get you a clearer image of this infographic on gestures:School Lunches From Around The World is a slideshow from The Huffington Post.
How people in various countries describe themselves on LinkedIn is an interesting map.
A new report came out reviewing life expectancies — and quality of life — in countries all throughout the world. In addition, it compared its results with a similar report issued twenty years ago.
Here animal sounds in different languages at this site. Here is how it describes itself:
All around the world, animal sounds are being heard in the language of the animal’s region or country. A dog’s bark or a cat’s meow in Canada may be understood as a completely different sound or word in Turkey or China. The differences in onomatopoeia, as animal sounds in different languages are formally known as, can be striking and to prove it we got together with a group of native speakers and recorded their “animal sounds”. We had a great time doing it and hope you enjoy it too!
55555, or, How to Laugh Online in Other Languages is from The Atlantic.Top 10 foreign language faux pas: in pictures is from The Telegraph.
Toy Stories is a fascinating series of photographs of children around the world posing with their favorite toys.
Disease and death around the world visualised is from The Guardian.
How Parents Around the World Describe Their Children, in Charts is a fascinating report of an the results from an international survey.
The info is fascinating, and the charts make the results very accessible to students and teachers alike.
The Atlantic allows the charts to be embedded in blogs and websites, which I’ve done below. But it’s worth reading their post for commentary.
This infographic “outlines different hand gestures of peace and where in the world the gesture may have originated.”:The YouTube Trends Map shows which videos are popular in different regions of the United States and in many countries of the world, along with further filtering by the age of viewers. Thanks to Flowing Data for the tip. International body language: a language with no words is from The Telegraph. What A Week Of Groceries Looks Like Around The World What American Parents Need to Do Better: Lessons from the Rest of the World is from Yahoo News. Here’s What People Eat For Breakfast Around The World is a slideshow from Business Insider. 13 Things That Americans Do That The Rest Of The World Just Finds Bizarre is from Business Insider. Languages of love: 10 unusual terms of endearment is from The BBC. The OECD Better Life Index “allows you to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life.” To Light A Fire is a beautiful collection of photographs from around the world showing the “look of reading.” This infographic has some very interesting information, but it also has an unfortunately insulting title, “The World’s Weirdest Foods.” I’m still adding it, though, to this list. Not only because the info is engaging, but I think the title itself can be used as a discussion prompt about perception — why do some people feel something is weird, and others do not? What might it say about the speaker (or writer)?
Readers Around The World is a fascinating infographic map.
UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register collects — digitally, I believe — key cultural artifacts from around the world. It’s a little difficult to get a clear sense of how it works — I think its page on Wikipedia is clearer than its own website:
UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction. It calls for the preservation of valuable archival holdings, library collections and private individual compendia all over the world for posterity, the reconstitution of dispersed or displaced documentary heritage, and the increased accessibility to and dissemination of these items.
The Register itself can be found here. Considering its wealth of resources and breadth of its collection, its surprisingly user “unfriendly.” One of these days, I hope they work with somebody like Google to really make it much more accessible.
Which countries eat the most meat? is an interactive from The Guardian.
National Flags Created From the Foods Each Country Is Commonly Associated With is from Visual News.
Schools Around The World is a nice photo gallery from The Boston Globe.
What We Watch:a geographic exploration of popular YouTube videos is from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and lets you use a map to see and compare which YouTube videos are most popular in countries around the world.
7 Diverse Children’s Cartoons (where the main character isn’t the standard white one) is from In Culture Parent.
Kids these days: A portrait of childhood around the world is from The Telegraph.
Hungry Planet: What The World Eats is a photo gallery from TIME.
11 fascinating funeral traditions from around the globe is from TED Talks.
The New Yorker has a slideshow of student uniforms from around the world.
And here’s an infographic comparing the average sizes of homes in different countries:
What Cool Looks Like Around the World is from Slate
Again, please let me know if I’m missing some sites.