Teach English in Baili Zhen - Anqing Shi

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Cultural Sensitivity in the ClassroomCultural sensitivity means being aware that there are differences between cultures across the globe, differences that are reflected in the ways that different people communicate and relate to one another. Awareness is not the only component of cultural sensitivity a person must know how to interact successfully and unwavering in spite of the differences. TEFL teachers must continually be aware of their cultural sensitivity, so that they can run a non english-centered classroom without prejudice, bias, or discrimination. Cultural insensitivity is a product of cultural ignorance, which can lead to many detrimental assumptions. For example, many non english-speaking students interact with adults in a more passive manor. Therefore, may not be willing to ask the teacher for assistance or tutoring. This often leads to the assumption that the student is uninterested and unmotivated. TEFL teachers are expected to have some knowledge of the culture they are teaching as well as how the culture operates. In some cultures direct eye contact with a student may be interpreted as unsatisfactory or aggressive. In other countries women are not allowed to sit with men, and even touching in a positive manner can be deemed offensive. Despite the differences teachers should have enough openness to accept the students even if they don?t follow the same cultural practices. Stereotypes can often affect the way a person conducts his/her classroom. Expectations can be formed based on what the teacher assumes they know about the culture they are teaching. Teachers should strive to encourage cultural awareness by exploring each individual?s culture and heritage. For example: -Have students make oral presentations about their native county -Assign students autobiographical writing assignments about influential people specific to their country. -Compare and contrast holidays from different countries. Teachers should also encourage students to learn about their new english culture. Such as taking students to visit local attractions like the museum, historical sites, and art exhibits to gain an appreciation for the local culture. Discussions comparing student?s new culture to their native should be encouraged as well, such as fashion, slang, and music. Classroom appearance also helps express cultural sensitivity. Teachers should decorate their class based on the culture or cultures they are teaching, decorations, such as maps, flags, and pictures of prominent leaders. Group projects can also be arranged so that students can embrace each other?s culture, which is especially important when teaching a multilingual class. Cultural sensitivity or lack there of can either make or break a class. Cultural sensitivity is something that all teachers of all subjects should exhibit and express to their students. Teachers who are very culturally sensitive are able to relate to students easily, leading to successful communication, prompting students to embrace the language more openly. As teachers our duty is to teach, not condemn. Acquiring cultural sensitivity requires that we step out side of our comfort zone and what we are accustomed to. The world will be a much better place once we realize that we are all different people from different cultures living under the same sun that must find a mutual respect for one another. Or we will never able to move forward.