Teach English in Dongbatou Nongchang - Yancheng Shi

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Topic: Importance of Cultural sensitivity in the classroom and How to embrace it? ESL Teachers are exposed to so many cultures in their entire career. It becomes utmost important that a teacher thoroughly understands the meaning and significance of having Cultural sensitivity. Teacher’s instructions, class environment and pedagogy have an immense impact on the Students. Cultural sensitivity is about respecting and acknowledging various culture individually. ESL teachers also deals with diverse cultures in the same classroom. Therefore, teacher should have a willingness to learn the nuances and adapt one’s conduct and communication based on her Students’ cultural background. Whether a Teacher is travelling to non-English speaking country or Teaching a group of Students with diverse background, thorough research about their Students’ culture is very crucial. Easiest way to start exploring can be through internet and relevant books. After getting the geographical and demographic overview, Teachers should also study the stereotypes of the country, which includes religious, political, racial etc. For example, some of the stereotypes for Indians are that they have a heavily accented English, Indians don’t empower women, India is poor, dirt and chaos, Indians worship millions of God etc. However, not everything is true about these stereotypes. It is critical that a Teacher doesn’t express her prejudices and opinions about the country, during the class in any manner. Non-English-speaking students coming from under-developed or developing countries may seem conservative or less motivated, but this is not true. Teacher should be patient and observe their abilities and they might surely surprise you. Sometimes, ethnic assumptions can really hamper the teaching approach. ESL Teacher should also study other aspects of culture like its customs, greetings, dress codes, social codes and conversational taboos. For e.g. India doesn’t openly talk about Menstruation, Namaste is used for both for greeting and leave-taking. On another note, ESL teacher will have students speaking same native language but are coming from different nations. For example, Spanish speaking students could come from countries like Mexico, Argentina, Spain etc. which has totally different culture from one another. Similarly, Chinese Students could come from China, Taiwan or Singapore. Teachers shouldn’t assume that students who speak a common native language will have same cultural backgrounds. Conversely, different regions within the same country can also have vast cultural differences (For e.g. India). Being aware of the differences, respecting and recognizing them in a meaningful way is the key for a well-balanced curriculum. Also, by foreseeing the potential problems with cultural sensitivity, teachers can conduct their designed lessons in a very effective and amiable way. As an ESL teacher, one should create such a learning environment that welcomes different cultures in a profound manner like posting class rules and regulations is English as well as major native languages, making the classroom very visuals in terms of putting up Maps, Drawings, Pictures, Flags etc.. This will appeal and connect the Students from diverse backgrounds to comprehend the educational concepts in the right connotation. Dealing with the classroom full of diversity can be very challenging but if taken done meticulously, ESL teacher can achieve great results. Teacher should include more ice-breaking and group activities that will encourage interaction between the diverse culture students. However, while devising such interactive activities teacher should also be able to sense if there is any kind of friction among some of her students. Exploring one another’s culture should be designed in a fun way which should involves student’s common interest areas and individual unique culture. The activities can be like a small speech on individual native countries, assigning the students to research about other student’s cultural heritage, talking about each other’s national dances or national animals etc. Other activities could also be a short role play about celebrating holidays of different countries in turns or creating small booths about their country’s best tourist destinations, Games, Puzzles etc. The whole idea is to emphasize and practice English language skills of Reading, writing, listening and speaking by sharing each other’s background with rest of the group. Each student will deal with Language learning in his unique way which mainly comes from his/her cultural background. Cultural sensitivity is an ongoing process and develops with experience. Teacher needs to develop this understanding and respect her students’ background willingly.