Teach English in Zhenan Nongchang - Tongliao Shi

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Cultural sensitivity is an issue that has a dramatic effect on the learning environment of the student. This is an issue that can so easily be overlooked even though in today’s society it’s a bigger necessity then ever. This is evident in my own country, Ireland; even with its small population we have cultures and ethnic groups from every continent and in my experience the majority of these immigrants are coming and seeking EFL training. The student’s access to education, and standard of teaching, is continuously being influenced and impacted by his/her cultural tradition. Influencing factors can be: ethnic group, religion, wealth, gender and beliefs. Being an EFL teacher holds a lot of responsibility and the individual who takes on this role has to adapt to many different circumstances, settings, characters and cultures. In today’s society we have the privilege of being able to mix different cultures and learn about the different social norms and beliefs. This could possibly become an issue for a teacher when traveling to different countries and coming in contact with a large number of students. One reason this may arise as an issue, is when a teacher does not have a full knowledge or awareness of the cultural background of the student they are teaching or also if there are conflicting beliefs between the teacher and the student. However, regardless of personal beliefs and traditions it is essential that the student feels respected and comfortable with the teacher about their own culture and feels entitled to freely express opinions and ideas. Specific cultures would have more complex cultural differences to deal with than others, for example; in Spain it’s common to have a siesta in the middle of the day when it becomes too hot. This is a tradition I would not be accustomed to coming from Ireland but it does not contradict any of my morals or beliefs. However, in certain places in the Middle East, it would not be uncommon for females in the classroom to have witnessed a much lower level of respect for their ideas and opinions then the males in their class. In some cases even access to the education in the first place is dictated by male figures. This is something I culturally disagree with and would possibly be uncomfortable with. While being faced with this issue would pose a difficulty for me, I also have the understanding that as the teacher I have a responsibility to respect the student’s culture. Presented with a situation like this, I need to be aware of the beliefs of those around me but inside my classroom make it known that under my tuition everyone will be treated as an equal and that I do not see gender as a ranking. When I decided to do the course I knowingly accepted the fact that I would be dealing with a large scale of diverse people, characteristics and cultures. Even though I have just spoken about the negativity of this, there are so many more positives. I have always been interested in new cultures and have always gained something positive from being around and learning from new cultural experiences. This is why cultural sensitivity is a topic I wanted to bring to light. In view of the increase in multilingual classroom situations it’s never been more important to put an emphasis on cultural sensitivity in EFL teaching. If it is something that the EFL teacher is always aware of and is constantly dealing with in a respectful manner, the classroom can become a haven for new experiences for both the student and teacher. From each perspective both the student and the teacher can learn important values and take things from each other’s culture to develop personal growth and worldly knowledge. For me that’s why becoming an EFL teacher is something I feel really passionate about and truly believe I will be able to add diversity and true interest in my classroom.