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TEFL summative task: problems facing students of different nationalities. What are the challenges of teaching students of different nationalities? Introduction As I embark my teaching career, being an inexperienced teacher, there are many things to consider. One of which is, facing students of different nationalities and the potential challenges that may arise whilst teaching the English Language. There are multiple obstacles that students will face whilst learning English; the complexities of the language itself, their previous educational experiences and potentially difficulties due to their culture. As teachers, it is important that we are aware of cultural differences and potential challenges that could arise, whilst teaching students of different nationalities in order to provide a safe and comfortable environment in which, the students can learn the English language effectively. Language barrier and learning to speak only English One of the main things that differs multicultural classrooms from ordinary ones is the language barrier (especially if the teacher cannot speak the students’ native language). This may particularly be a struggle when teaching monolingual classes, as the temptation for the students to speak to each other in their native language is greater. Therefore, the teacher must be emphasise that they must communicate in English only whilst in the classroom, especially for any speaking activities. However, this may not be such an issue when teaching a multilingual group with various nationalities, as English may be the only language, they are able to communicate with if the students cannot speak each other’s native language. There are many ways that a teacher can help and encourage the students to speak English only within the classroom; using flash cards to produce visual descriptions for students whilst the dictionary can help with the meaning and pronunciation. Issues surrounding cultural background Teachers should be aware of the students’ cultural background and the structure of their native language as there could be a lot of differences in peculiarities between their native language and the English language. For instance; British people use polite words such as ‘pardon’, ‘sorry’, ‘excuse me’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot more often that the speakers of Indo-European languages such as Russian. Therefore. It is essential that these differences are explained to the students as a way of being polite. Students should be made aware of these differences in order to communicate effectively and courteously. Non-verbal behaviour The body language of different ethnic groups may vary greatly. Therefore, if the teacher is unaware of the non-verbal characteristics of the society in which the students are from, this could be challenging when trying to interpret body language correctly. For example, simple gestures such as eye contact or hand movements could have completely different meanings in other countries. Therefore, it is important that the teacher is aware of this in-order not to cause confusion or offence in the classroom. Teaching communication skills Learning a new language is challenging as it is, let alone having to overcome the shyness to speak or having the ability to share their viewpoint in the classroom. In some Muslim countries, boys will avoid communicating with girls whilst in the classroom and this is seen as being completely normal for their culture. Therefore, it is fundamental that the teacher is not only aware of these cultural differences but are sensitive towards them too. To overcome shyness, teachers should encourage the students to speak their mind with a variety of topics that are interesting to them and should be able to identify each students’ strengths and weaknesses. This will help to tailor the lessons to meet the students’ needs. Pair work and group work is a good solution to help overcome shyness as the students will build the confidence to speak the language and to develop good communication skills. The complexities of the English Language If the vast vocabulary of the English Language and the English grammar isn’t enough to cause difficulties with students mastering the English language, there is also the challenge of pronunciation too. Students from different nationalities will have very different issues when trying to pronounce English and this is due to the influence of their native language. For example; Spanish students often have problems pronouncing ‘b’ and ‘v’ when speaking English, the two letters sound very much the same when speaking Spanish (especially in Latin America). Also ‘ll’ is pronounced as ‘y’ sound in Spanish, which is not the case when speaking English. There are also many words in English that are spelt differently but are pronounced the same (homophone words), such as; ‘wood’ and ‘would’, ‘pear’ and ‘pair’ and ‘cell’ and ‘sell’. The International Phonetic Alphabet can help overcome these issues and build confidence with pronunciation. Conclusion There are many more things to consider whilst teaching students of different nationalities and the challenges that can arise whilst teaching diverse groups. It is important as an EFL teacher, not only that, we aware of these challenges and are sensitive to cultural differences, but we help students to overcome these challenges and to provide a safe and supportive environment to develop in. References: Noplag blog (2017) Challenges of multicultural education. Available at: https://blog.noplag.com/challenges-of-multicultural-education/ (Accessed 14th February 2020) iTTT blog (2019) 3 important problems facing students of different nationalities. Available at: https://www.teflcourse.net/blog/3-important-problems-facing-students-of-different-nationalities-ittt-tefl-blog/ (Accessed 14th February 2020) iTTT blog (2019) 3 major problems facing students in classes of different nationalities. Available at: https://www.teflcourse.net/blog/3-major-problems-facing-students-in-classes-of-different-nationalities-ittt-tefl-blog/ (Accessed 14th February 2020) Speak easy (2019) The differences between Spanish in Spain and Latin America. Available at: https://www.speakeasybcn.com/en/blog/the-differences-between-spanish-in-spain-and-latin-america (Accessed 15th February 2020) Magic Keys (2004) Explanation of Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs and Heteronyms. Available at: http://www.magickeys.com/books/riddles/words.html (Accessed 16th February 2020)