TEFL Teaching People of A Different Culture

When considering the importance of the role of a teacher, what then is the importance of how they teach when faced with different and diverse cultures? First, we must look to the definition of culture itself: ?A culture may be conceived as a network of beliefs and purposes in which any string in the net pulls and is pulled by the others, thus perpetually changing the configuration of the whole.? (Jacques Barzun, quoted on site: services/articles/culturel) So if culture is indeed a highly upheld structure that supports each individual, then we must carefully take into consideration how we incorporate the culture in the classroom to create a sense of unity.

In teaching to a different culture, one must first reflect on their personal knowledge and beliefs of that particular culture. How did we obtain this knowledge and where did we develop this belief? We discover that most resources are from word-of-mouth, media, religion, or personal research through books. This process is referred to as ?cultural knowledge?; where the information of culture is obtained from someone else?s experience rather than your own. The problem with this is that it can tend to be stereotypical and generalized and only relative to that person?s experience. It is important to leave these biases aside and try to remain non- judgmental and understanding when entering the classroom to create harmony and fluency.

When teaching people of another culture, what are some of the differences that may occur in their behavior in the classroom? Referring to the example from, culture affects behavior in the classroom in the four following ways.

1.Speaking Up: Depends on the context of the society. In a low- context society, such as the U.S.A., they communicate their messages in a direct manner with little or no regard to the feelings of others. In a high-context society, such as Japan or Thailand, they are more implicit with their communication and hold relations with others in very high regard.

2.Tracking Time: There are two different cultural times. Monochronic time refers to those who refer to step-by-step set schedules and timing is of high importance. Polychronic time refers to those who multi-task and find time an invasion of self, so therefore interpersonal needs are found more important.

3.Physical Self: Gestures and personal space differentiate between cultures as to what is acceptable or offensive.

4.Personal Interaction: Discipline, competition, and cooperation methods vary for different cultures. So we must take each of these points into careful consideration upon researching the culture in order to understand the norms of their society.

When teaching a class, one of the most important things is the relationship that you build with you student, because a positive relationship provides a healthy and comfortable learning atmosphere. To effectively create this relationship with students of another culture, we must assess what communicative skills and ideas are needed. Some tips on the site outline some ideas for this process:

-Be patient

-Establish mutual rules for class conduct and time

-Ask questions to help clarify actions or beliefs

-Respect and be understanding

-Be positive

Knowledge of national holidays or celebrations will help how students respect and dedication. Keeping up to date with current events, such as the news or sports, to use as examples in the classroom will help personalize the lesson and make the students feel more at ease. But above all, respecting the culture by not questioning beliefs of individuals in any case to promote equality, is the essential etiquette of any classroom.

Let?s look at the Spanish culture of Chile to discover what may be important to know as appropriate etiquette for the classroom. 89% of the Chilean people are Roman Catholic and their religion plays a pivotal role in their celebrations (e.g. Saint?s Days) and their national holidays, so much knowledge of this religion is needed for every day use. Family in Chilean life is held in the highest regard, and so it is common for family to intertwine with business. Clearly a high context society, so showing respect for their family orientation is extremely essential. Try to include their family by organizing special events. Obviously they hold relationship in higher regard than structure and time, because they are of Polyochronic cultural time, so quality is important. There are specific social ranks and the language specifically has different pronouns to distinguish these ranks. So therefore knowledge of these socials ranks is needed to properly communicate with students, parents, and other staff members.

In conclusion, the significance of the methods a teacher uses in a classroom when teaching students of another culture is monumental considering the importance of culture to each individual in every society. Showing respect for another?s culture is much like showing respect for the individual. So, research the potential country you are to work in before hand to determine whether or not it conflicts with your own personal beliefs. Then make sure that you are fully aware of the proper teacher to student etiquette prior to entering the classroom because you want to keep the students as comfortable as possible in order for them to effectively learn. Knowing facts about their current events and keeping up to date with local celebrations will help build your rapport with students. Some knowledge of the language is helpful to be able communicate with fellow staff members and parents of the students and will show them dedication and thoroughness. So when teaching in a diverse culture much respect and dedication is required to build healthy and respectable relationships with your students and to succeed as a teacher.


??What is Culture?? services/articles/culturel Reference used for quote on what culture is by Jacques Barzun.

??Connect with Kids and Parents of Different Cultures? by Linda Ross Reference used for how culture affects behavior.

??Working with Foreign Cultures? by Tracey Wilen Reference used for understanding differences in cultures.

??Sameness and difference: the challenge of culture in language teaching? by Elspeth Broady Reference used for definition on cultural knowledge.

??Intercultural Communication Tips? services/articles/intercultural-communication-tipsl Reference used for tips on how to become an effective intercultural communicator.

??Chile ? Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette?

Reference used for facts on the Chilean culture.

??Teaching Diversity: A Place to Begin? by Gonzalez-Mena Janet and Pulido-Tobiassen Dora

Author: Not given

Date of post: 2007-01-08