Teach Play Love: Lessons in intercultural communication…from teenagers – Samir Naim Salama (Gaza) and Paul Dummett (UK)

One of the things the Hands Up Project does is to pair brilliant teachers from Gaza with brilliant teachers from other parts of the world to work together and play.

The first lesson that they learnt from their teenagers on this international communication course was the need to emphasise communication. How to communicate when language isn’t necessarily available, through other methods like mime, drawing and others. Mediating meaning wherever they can.

When we teach communicatively, the focus is actually often on avoiding miscommunication. Culture is seen as an iceberg with superficial differences (e.g. how you show appreciation for food by (not) leaving some on the plate), and underneath this there are hidden depths.

How true is this?

They’ve actually found that these differences are much less present than the commonalities between us. Those situations where there is a complete communication breakdown due to culture are actually relatively rare. This kind of approach can lead us to promoting stereotypes.

Cultural intelligence

[I really like this term] This is what they’re really interested in, rather than thinking about superficial stereotypes as culture.

What does it mean?

  • Being open to learn about other cultures, institutions and languages
  • Having knowledge of other cultures, institutions and languages

Teens and children can approach others without prejudice. They have a curiosity when they meet others to find out more about how they learn, which adults might not have.

Course content is built around…

1. Comparing lives and environments

2. Understanding individuals’ situations motivations (like examining a tree and its roots, rather than an iceberg)

3. Opportunity for collaboration – allowing students to work together in problem-solving tasks

Online ICC course principles

Activities from the course

Words & language

What word or expression do you use most often in your language?

What’s your favourite word in English? Why?

What noise does a cat/horse/dog make in your language?

Teach me the most useful word or phrase in your language.

What’s a saying in your language that you especially like? Why?

Free word association (e.g. sport, family, cool, afraid)

Senses and abilities

This helps learners to find common ground, and it taps into their immediate environment.

What can you see and hear right now?

What’s your favourite smell, taste, view?

What ability are you proudest of? Why?

What special ability do you wish you had? What would you do with it?


Describe a journey that you make each day. Help me visualise what you see, hear and smell. Perhaps describe a person you see every time, the sounds you hear every time, the smells you smell.

Name 1 good thing about your house/flat. And 1 bad thing.

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of home?

What do you like about the area you live in? What do you dislike about it?


Are there more wheels or doors in the world? (Thinking fast and slow) Put a quick answer in the chat box, then go to breakout rooms to have a longer, more in-depth discussion.

Your best news headline 5 years from now. (Brainstorm)

An important problem in your community and possible solutions (Brainstorming: selling others’ ideas) – put possible solutions into the chat, but another person has to sell that idea to everybody. It helps you to see things from others’ perspectives.

Promoting love and understanding

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.