Cultures and Languages in Education

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Cultures and Languages in Education by Mind Map: Cultures and Languages in Education

1. Students from Japan

1.1. 1. Encourage children to join sports teams or academic teams

1.1.1. Who? Students

1.1.2. What? They can join sports teams within the school or within the community

1.1.3. When? After school

1.1.4. Where? Either at school or at a community center

1.1.5. Why? As I mentioned in my summaries, Japanese culture highly values competition and achievement. Furthermore, joining a sports team is a wonderful way for students to build a sense of community with their teammates. It makes them feel that they are a valued member of a team!

1.1.6. How? This is where you come in! Find out about sports teams at your school and be aware of when specific athletic seasons begin/end. Communicate with the P.E. teacher or coach of these particular teams and post flyers/information in the classroom. Send these flyers home to students' parents so they are aware of it as well.

1.2. 2. Have variation in ways students can participate in class

1.2.1. Who? You

1.2.2. What? Include variation in participation; don't just grade students on participation based on how often they speak up in class.

1.2.3. When? During class time or as homework

1.2.4. Where? In the classroom or at the students' homes

1.2.5. Why? Students from different cultures behave in different ways. Students from some backgrounds may not feel comfortable raising their hand to ask questions or speak up in class. You should recognize that this doesn't mean they aren't paying attention or don't want to participate. Providing alternate ways of assessing participation allows students to let you know about their opinions, questions, or concerns in a way that they feel most comfortable.

1.2.6. How? Many ways! You can give each of your students a journal. There can be a specific time set aside every day or once a week for the students to reflect upon what they have learned. They can share stories, ask questions, etc. Every week you can collect these journals and answer the questions or comment on the students' thoughts. This is also a great measuring tool for you; it allows you to really see who is actively paying attention and participating, and it can open your eyes to something you can do differently in the classroom. For example, if many kids have the same questions or the same concerns, this can be addressed and solved.

1.3. 3. Be Accessible

1.3.1. Who? You as the teacher!

1.3.2. What? Make yourself accessible and approachable

1.3.3. When? At the beginning of the school year when meeting students, continue to keep this up throughout the school year. Perhaps set aside times after school that you are available to chat and answer questions if your schedule allows it

1.3.4. Where? Your office, another specified location in school, or on the internet! (through e-mail)

1.3.5. Why? Some students from different cultural backgrounds might feel uncomfortable or inappropriate raising their hand in class to ask questions. Asking questions could cause them to feel "weak" or "dumb."This could cause many issues as students might just rather not ask the question at all, thus interpreting information incorrectly. By being accessible outside of the classroom, students can get the answers they need without feeling uncomfortable.

1.3.6. How? Provide an e-mail in your syllabus that students can use to reach you. Let students know how long they should expect to hear back from you. Also provide office hours outside of class time so that students can come and talk to you about any questions or concerns they may have.

1.4. 4. Recognize the stereotypes you make have about specific students

1.4.1. Who? You as the teacher.

1.4.2. What? You might have stereotypes or hidden biases about students from specific backgrounds. It's important to be aware of these stereotypes so that you can overcome them and view your students as individuals. Even positive stereotypes can cause problems. For example, many teachers view Asian students as kids who excel at academics. However, some asian students might not fit into this mold and might still need help and guidance.

1.4.3. When? As early as possible! Think about these types of things before you begin a class so that you are aware and able to disabuse these stereotypes.

1.4.4. Where? In the classroom

1.4.5. Why? Stereotyping students is harmful to them in many ways. With regards to Japanese students, teachers might assume that because they are Asian, they are going to need no help in school and that they will get good grades and understand tough concepts. Having this kind of attitude could put a lot of pressure on your students that are from an Asian culture and make them feel embarrassed to ask questions or to ask for help. Examining the stereotypes you have as a teacher can help you overcome them; when you view your students as individuals, you can better differentiate your teaching to ensure that each and every student has an equal opportunity to succeed.

1.4.6. How? Focus on the academic ability of each of your students. Provide an equal amount of help to each of them and let them know they can reach you via office hours or e-mail if they have any questions. Give opportunities to your students to ask questions in class as well. Never make assumptions about the students.

1.5. 5. Set a good example

1.5.1. Who? You as the teacher

1.5.2. What? Be aware of the way you treat each of your students. Be respectful of your students' unique backgrounds.

1.5.3. When? All the time!

1.5.4. Where? In the classroom

1.5.5. Why? With regards to particularly younger students, children are very perceptive. They pick up on the way adults treat others, and they mimic these behaviors. It is up to you to create a healthy and respectful classroom environment. If you treat your students kindly and respect their different cultures, then the class as a whole will do the same. This is important because it is crucial to students' learning and growth to feel safe, respected, and comfortable while they are at school.

1.5.6. How? Being aware of your hidden biases is a part of this step. Also, do not tolerate students disrespecting one another in the classroom. If you hear one student make a disrespectful comment to another student, intervene immediately. Explain that different backgrounds have different cultural norms, and we should value that and appreciate the diversity each student brings into the classroom.

2. Students from Saudi Arabia

2.1. 1. Do your reasearch

2.1.1. Who? You as the teacher.

2.1.2. What? Do some research! Find out where your students are from, and be aware of basic cultural/social norms from that culture. Understand the unique backgrounds that your students come from

2.1.3. When? First day of class, beginning of the school year

2.1.4. Where? In the classroom and in your own home

2.1.5. Why? Understanding and knowing your students is important in any context, especially when they are from different countries. This can help you understand their classroom behavior. For example, you might think students are copying each other when in reality they are simply working on an assignment together. Or, you might think they are not participating in class because they don't raise their hand to speak or ask questions, when in reality it could be that it is not common in their home countries to freely raise their hands and speak in class whenever they want.

2.1.6. How? On the first day of class, have your students turn in a piece of paper with some key information about themselves, such as: name, place they were born, first language, favorite school subject, etc. Then, look at how many and which students are from foreign countries and do not list English as their first language. Go home and do some research; find out about these different cultures and what the social norms are there. Going even a step further and learning how to say "hello" or "good job" in your students' native language can make them feel welcome and let them know you are aware and respect their background.

2.2. 2. Encourage students to work together and help one another

2.2.1. Who? You as the teacher!

2.2.2. What? Create an environment in the classroom in which students feel encouraged and comfortable enough to help one another complete academic work (except for during tests of course!), classroom chores, and other situations in the classroom. Encourage collaboration and teamwork!

2.2.3. When? Throughout the school day

2.2.4. Where? In the classroom, and hopefully extended beyond the classroom during after school activities and lunch/break time

2.2.5. Why? Many students from other countries come from cultures that are more collectivistic than the United States. They find meaning in objects and activities through a social context, and value the good of the group as a whole. Promoting an environment of helping will give those students a chance to exercise this value.

2.2.6. How? In the context of an elementary classroom, don't assign students individual chores (ex: "This week, Johnny is in charge of cleaning the whiteboard.") Instead, assign specific chores to pairs of students or small groups.

2.3. 3. Allow opportunities for student to teach about his or her culture

2.3.1. Who? Teacher will assign activities to the students

2.3.2. What? Students will have opportunities to teach their classmates about their culture and values

2.3.3. When? During a class period, perhaps "writing time"

2.3.4. Where? In the classroom

2.3.5. Why? It will allow students a chance to explain to their peers where they are from and what some similarities and differences are between their home country and wherever they are currently attending school. This will give other students insight and understanding, and make the foreign student aware that the teacher cares and values his/her background.

2.3.6. How? Assign writing assignments in which the students write about a memorable family vacation or childhood memory. Let the students volunteer to share with the class. Another fun idea for elementary kids could be a "potluck day." Kids can bring a small dish of food from their home countries and tell the class about it. Although I was born in the U.S., my family is Armenian and came here from Iran. I always felt a little out of touch with my classmates because my parents were immigrants. My 5th grade teacher chose to have a potluck, and my mom made "Dolma," which is a common dish in Iran made by wrapping rice in grape leaves. I was able to share this with my class and my friends all loved it. It made me feel great to share a little bit of my culture with my peers!

2.4. 4. Assign group work

2.4.1. Who? You can assign group work to the students

2.4.2. What? Assign work which requires to students to work together and collaborate

2.4.3. When? Throughout the school year

2.4.4. Where? Students can work on the group project during class time if they are in elementary school. For high school and university, students can also get together outside of school to complete work.

2.4.5. Why? Many cultures, particularly Saudi Arabia, are quite collectivistic. Assigning group work allows these students to complete classwork in a context that isn't individualistic such as homework assignments or essays. This will also allow for international students to work with american students, promoting the sharing of different ideas and perspectives. Working together could make way for other social interactions and help the international students feel more integrated in other social circles.

2.4.6. How? Assign projects to be completed in small groups. Allow the groups to decide by themselves how to work can be distributed. Let the groups spend some times in class each day working on their project. In the end, the students will present their work. Allow students to submit an individual reflection on the group project, reflecting upon: what they contributed, what other group members contributed, what they wish they had done differently, what they were proud of, and how they felt about the group's collaboration overall. This will allow you to measure whether or not this particular step was effective and what kinds of changes can be made in future assignments. It can also reveal if there was one particular group member who didn't carry his or her weight.

2.5. 5. Be clear in your expectations

2.5.1. Who? You as the teacher.

2.5.2. What? Provide clear goals and expectations for all schoolwork

2.5.3. When? Whenever there is an assignment due, such as an essay or project. Provide guidelines and expectations when you first assign it.

2.5.4. Where? In the classroom. Provide a copy of these expectations to your students so they have it as reference

2.5.5. Why? Students from across the world come from many different academic background and there can be misunderstandings and disconnect regarding what constitutes a "good" grade.

2.5.6. How? Create an evaluation rubric, review it in class when assigning something, allow students to ask questions and voice concerns, and provide a copy to students to keep

3. * Some of these steps can be applied to more than one group; they are general helpful ways to be inclusive of any foreign student in the classroom

4. References

4.1. Greenfield, P.M., Rothstein-Fisch, C., Trumbull, E. (1999). Bridging Cultures with Classroom Strategies. Understanding Race, Class and Culture, 56, 64-67. Retrieved from: Plymouth University. (2015). Inclusive Teaching with International Students. Retrieved from: Teaching of Tolerance: Culture in the Classroom. Retrieved from