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Last Finds Authentic Materials Lessons and Activities Visuals and Games General Resources Embassy Websites

NCLRC's office in downtown Washington, D.C. is a prime location for taking advantage of a myriad of cultural and educational events and resources offered by the city's international community. But you don't have to live in Washington to benefit from the materials produced by the growing list of countries with ties to the U.S. Many embassies host websites with huge quantities of information, often in multiple languages and/or geared specifically towards children or educators. In addition to cultural sites highlighting a country's lifestyles, arts, geography, and peoples, many embassy websites offer free videos, newsletters, lesson plans, and other teaching materials. Have your students explore on their own and report back to the class, take them on a virtual field trip as a group, or develop exercises that can be completed with the help of the information on the sites. If you have access to the technology, you could even have your students create a page in the target language (online, off line, or on paper) about their own lives, much like those written "by kids for kids" on the German, French, Swiss, or Danish sites. To explore the full list of embassies, go to http://www.embassy.org/embassies/ . Below are some suggestions of sites or parts of sites that we found especially useful.

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BRAZIL
http://www.brasilemb.org/

Clicking on "Kid's Corner" will bring you to Monica's gang, a cartoon site you can view in English or Portuguese, full of games, postcards, comic strips and stories, and cultural information, all presented in a very kid-friendly way. The comic strips are great little snippets of easy-to-follow Portuguese, kind of like the Brazilian version of the wildly popular French cartoon, Asterix. They'd be a great way to get kids motivated to read in the target language, and maybe make some cartoons of their own. There's also information about the cartoonist, Mauricio de Sousa, who makes comics with important social, cultural, and public health messages as well. Also in the Kid's Corner are extensive sites on the city of Brasilia, Brazilian Indians, interviews with Brazilian kids about life in Brazil, and various other project- or report-worthy sites, all in English. For older students, there's a link to www.globo.com, which has a huge site covering all kinds of Brazilian sports with pictures, interviews, and scores. The embassy's own homepage has news in Portuguese, a link with streaming Brazilian music (excellent for background music in your classroom), discussions of cultural, economic, political, and environmental issues, a list of cultural events, and the customary list of links to sites of interest to those wishing to learn more about Brazil.

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DENMARK
http://www.ambwashington.um.dk/en

In About Denmark , click on “Culture” and scroll midway through the page for links to various aspects of Danish culture. The “ For Kids ” section highlights websites you can visit that will help you if you are doing a school report, working for a scout merit badge or if you are just curious to know more about Denmark.
An Introduction to Denmark (PDF) is a downloadable, printable guide to Denmark compiled by the Danish Consulate General in New York . The 25 page guide is made up of short, simply written chapters on the History, Geography and Maps of Denmark, and the Royal Family, the Dannebrog (national flag), Church & Religion, Culture, Major Tourist Attractions, Famous Danes, The Faroe Islands and Greenland. Each chapter has black-and-white pictures, and those of the Tivoli and the Storebælt Bridge by night are particularly captivating.

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FRANCE
http://www.info-france-usa.org/

From the homepage there are a few choices for material specifically for young people. Choose the French version of the site and click on “Espace Jeunesse” to get a link to the kid's page in English, or to two other great, very comprehensive sites on France and French culture in French. In particular “Zip Zap” is a site so well connected that I easily got engrossed going from topic to topic. Written in fairly simple French, it presents interesting facts about France , francophone culture, and the French language in a very appealing and entertaining format. You choose a topic to begin with, and then at the end, you are “zip zapped” to another, seemingly unrelated yet engaging topic. Within the site is a “top ten” list created by British students of the top ten words they most associate with France, each with a page all about the word in French culture. Try having your students create their own top ten list and explain their choices. See if they can connect their words and concepts somehow to create their own zip zap map of French culture.

Back on the embassy's homepage, you can also subscribe to several electronic newsletters and mailing lists, including one specifically about French education in the U.S. with events, scholarships, workshops, and other programs. Somehow, the site www.frenchculture.org is hidden within the subscription page to the cultural newsletters. Visit this site to find the latest news and resources for art, education, music, TV, radio, books, film, people, and performing arts.

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GERMANY
http://www.germany-info.org

The German embassy's homepage, , offers a version in German containing mostly news items pertaining to political, economic, and cultural issues of relevance to Germany .
Another interesting site is: http://www.germany-info.org/relaunch/culture/life/G_Kids/index.htm
Although it seems to be available only in English, it is inviting, well-organized, and very youth-friendly. A German boy, Philip, guides visitors through every aspect of his life, including holidays, history, home, school, music, food, freetime, and celebrities.
If you visit the German Information Center , you can subscribe to their newsletter in German or English (including a special teachers' newsletter), listen to weekly radio broadcasts, and access a catalog of free videos available for loan nationwide, organized by grade level.

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ITALY
http://www.ambwashingtondc.esteri.it/

The main page offers a welcome message by the ambassador, as well as contact information for Italian consulates all around the country. If you click on a link called "cultural cooperation" you can follow this to a link for the Italian Cultural Institute in a handful of cities, including the cultural institute in Washington D.C., which offers information on how to study Italian, funding opportunities, and highlights such as current art exhibits. The link for "political cooperation" offers a report on the positive relationship between the U.S. and Italy, while the "economic cooperation" link provides useful websites, such as a tax guide for foreigners. The "Doing Business in Italy" link from the main page offers general information on business in Italy, including links to useful organizations, as well as information on trade information or information on regulations and incentives. While there is no clear link for a "kid’s page" with teacher materials, many of the above resources would be fun to use in designing a lesson plan in which students would need to create a mock plan for moving to Italy and starting a new business.

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JAPAN
http://www.embjapan.org/

The Embassy of Japan website is home to the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC) . The JICC is a teacher's dream, bursting with delightfully current information on Japanese culture, history, economics, government and education. The JICC has also put together a useful 14 page Learning about Japan Teacher Resource Guide (PDF) which includes the following: Map and Facts about Japan, How to fold an Origami Crane, Holidays and Celebrations, About Mount Fuji, Schools in Japan, Japanese Language Charts, Making Japanese Rice Balls, "Learning About Japan" Resources, and annotated lists of useful websites and Pen Pal programs. The website is also home to the "Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET)." The JET homepage describes the purpose of the program: "to help enhance internationalization in Japan by promoting mutual understanding between Japan and other nations. The program aims to enhance foreign language education in Japan, and to promote international exchange at the local level by fostering ties between Japanese youth and foreign youth." The "Study in Japan" link takes you to a page with information for prospective, current, or former students who have studied abroad in Japan.

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MEXICO
http://portal.sre.gob.mx/eua/

This embassy site is offered in Spanish or English and includes updated news on the home page of the embassy site. The site offers information on the embassy, Mexico, consular services, press releases from the press office, and Mexican communities in the United States, among a number of other topics. The Mexican government hosts this special site for kids to learn ALL about Mexico in French, English, Spanish, or Italian: http://www.elbalero.gob.mx/index_kids.html The site includes an astounding array of interactive and multimedia information, on everything from geography and native plants to government and pop culture, all geared toward children. The section on government includes information on the three branches of government, the basis for human rights in Mexico, and the history for the Mexican flag with the verses for the national anthem accompanied by an MP3 version. In the games and activities section with puzzles, memory games, and crafts, including a section with directions on how to make a paper Maraca, wireless telephone, or even a volcano.

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SAUDI ARABIA
http://www.saudiembassy.net/Index.asp

Though the site is almost entirely in English, it still provides some valuable resources for students and teachers alike. For example, the homepage features top news stories related to the region as they happen, and also provides a link to live Saudi TV. Clicking on News , and then on publications takes you to Saudi Arabia In Focus ( weekly summary of key events), Saudi Arabia : The magazine ( in-depth, illustrated coverage of social, cultural and historical issues), and Saudi Arabia : The newsletter . You can also sign up to receive email updates from the Embassy. The Multimedia link provides access to video clips and commercials, audio clips to listen to the instrumental version of the National Anthem, and pictures of life in Saudi Arabia under Images.

By clicking on Country Information under About Saudi Arabia students can read about the history of Saudi Arabia , Transportation and Communications and Sports and Recreation in Saudi Arabia . Facts and Figures provides further information on the Kingdom's Flag, Emblem, Location, Terrain, Climate, Population, Religion, Language, Government, Provinces, Time, Holidays, Currency, etc.  Another link worth visiting is Culture and Art which covers Saudi Arabia's Cultural Institutions , Archeological Heritage , Folk Music & Dance , Traditional Dress & Jewelry , Calligraphy , and Architecture .

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SPAIN
http://www.spainemb.org/ingles/indexing.htm

Your first stop in the Spanish Embassy site should be the Cultural Office, where you can find links to joint sponsored programs with the US like the Fulbright program, the Young Hispanic Leaders Program, and the Library of Congress and Spanish National Library program. There are also links to two Instituto Cervantes, cultural institutes supported by Spain , and a Cultural Calendar highlighting events involving Spanish culture in the US . In this section you can also find information about the Spanish film loan library, which provides a large number of films, television series, and short features in Spanish for use in non-commercial settings (like a classroom!). The embassy recommends the websites of several cultural institutions based in the US as well such as the Spanish Institute , The Hispanic Society of America , and Museums in Spain .

The site for the Education Ministry of Spain, http://www.sgci.mec.es/usa/eng/ , is available in French, Spanish, and English, and contains a wealth of information for teachers. The Ministry offers many professional development opportunities, a publication for Spanish teachers called Materiales that is available online, links to Spanish Resource Centers across the country, a great annotated list of links to use in the classroom, and various other useful publications. Information about Spain in general in the target language is of course available from the embassy's homepage, and includes culture, economics, politics, agriculture, social affairs, and international relations.

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SWITZERLAND
www.swissemb.org

Clicking on "Culture and Education" on the right side of the Swiss home page opens up a whole menu full of useful information. Topics under Culture and Education cover basic information about Swiss life, including cultural events and offerings, scholarships, and workshops available in the U.S. The embassy's site appears to only be available in English; however, the tourism site, www.myswitzerland.com can be viewed in a couple dozen different languages, and could be useful for authentic language exercises, such as planning a vacation. You can also subscribe to the monthly newsletter for up-to-date information about the country.

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