Classroom Diversity Teaching English, to non- speaking


Teaching English, to non- speaking English students, can be a challenge for any instructor, experienced or non-experienced. It would be wonderful if all students were at least of the same ethnic background, however, welcome to the real world of teaching. Questions and research on the background of each and every student would be necessary in order to understand all of these diversities.

Learning different techniques that could be used to make a TEFL Teacher's career easier as well as the students´ will be a beneficial tool for the future. 'Family ties are strong. Families often gather for holidays, birthdays, and weddings.' (http://Ohiolineosu.edu/hyg-fact) Requesting a calendar of the days the student would not be attending due to a religious holiday would be an excellent way for the teacher to keep track of these very special days. Meeting with the child's parents would be a good way to build rapport with other family members. Ask, as many questions as possible and show interest in wanting to understand the student's culture.

Many village celebrations coincide with seasonal events, such as the harvest. This could be implemented into the curriculum. Each community or village has their own festival that the special days are celebrated with fiestas that the class could participate in. The class could make decorations or do a study on the types of fiestas that each student celebrates, and present them to the class. Holding a fiesta would be a fun and creative way for the students to get a better understanding of a different culture. This will help the students possibly feel more at home, secure, and welcomed.

Many student's hygiene and eating habits differ from that of a Canadian or American where the health care facilities are superior. 'To fully understand the impact cultures play in American nutrition, one must study both food and culture.' (http://Ohiolineosu.edu/hyg-fact) Introduction of food groups could be incorporated into classroom activities such as health class and agriculture, discussing what is grown in different countries. Making sure that there were snacks available in the classroom such as apples, cheese and crackers would be a good way to introduce other food groups to the student. Cooking sessions would be another way a student could be introduced to a new food group and the value this food has with regards to variety and healthy eating habits. This could possibly create a better diversity of nutritional value to the home. Shopping trips could be taken as fieldtrips to local grocery stores where students could price compare and list certain healthy foods. This would be a great life skill tactic for any student learning English as a second or foreign language.

Another ethnic stumbling block could be that it may be possible that a student or students in the classroom may come from a family where the males are the authority figured at home which relates to the male children being dominant in the classroom. In India, for example, 'Male dominance is always projected high, and everyone accepts it as a sign of a secured home.' (www.meghdutam.com/articlemp.php) Through role modeling techniques, it could be demonstrated that females are just as important as the males in the class, as well as in society as a whole. Students could role-play different scenarios, as well as, participate in activities or games that could reinforce manners. While teaching demonstrates respect, manners and politeness throughout the day encourages the students to follow suit. Reinforcements could be used sporadically when appropriate manners are being demonstrated to their female peers as well as guests, and amongst other peers in the classroom.

In Germany, 'many students reported having a great deal of respect for teachers, whom they feel have a difficult job. Students said that the teachers they respected the most were those who did the best job maintaining discipline and order in the classroom.' (www.ed.gov/pubs/GermanCaseStudy/chapter4b.html) Therefore, rapport building, respect, and understanding, not only the students in the classroom but the family's of students, as well as, discipline and being creative in one's teaching skills, are important tools in any TEFL classroom. These techniques could be beneficial for the teacher to support their students affectively and successfully throughout their TEFL experience and/or their entire teaching career.