Teach English in WaitAn Jiedao - Shanghai Shi

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Cultural sensitivity in the classFrom all indications it is clear that if one has to take up teaching in a foreign country he/she would have to face the issue of culture diversity as well as culture sensitivity. It therefore becomes imperative that a teacher be well aware and equipped in this area in order to have a success story written down. What is cultural sensitivity? Culture sensitivity simply means being aware that cultural differences and similarities exist and have an effect on values, learning and behavior. (James A. Banks 2005) Teaching in a multicultural classroom therefore encompasses overcoming cultural challenges and creating an effective learning environment for one and all students. It includes aspects such as learning preferences (difference in manner of understanding and retention of information based on background experience) and difference in social values (it is equally very important that no values are disregarded. Lifestyles, for example are changing; the age-long nuclear family is becoming ancient history. Single parent families are becoming very popular as divorce rates kiss the sky. There also exist same sex parents, adoptive parents of difference race and households headed by extended families. Hence each child has unique experiences that affect his/her appreciation of education. In spite of all these though, students, irrespective of their heritage and family composition are entitled to a teacher who tries to connect with their family. For a teacher to effectively offer education in a multicultural environment therefore, he/she needs to develop skills and attitude that, not only help overcome the challenges posed, but also impart knowledge and information to learners of diverse cultures. A multicultural teacher should always think of how to provide lesson plans that honor all cultures (Mikel Hogan-Garcia 2006). This entails the following roles and skills (Mikel Hogan-Garcia 2006): It is important that teachers have in-depth knowledge of subject matter. This will enable good discussion using various view points as well as cultural references, i.e. when teaching about family ties in Africa, the teacher should be able to lead students knowledgeable through the ideals and beliefs pertaining to the subject and ensure complete understanding. In cognizance of different learning styles and abilities students, teachers must be able to make adjustments to their layout and lesson plan. All students have their unique learning style that is dependent on some inherent as well as external factors by which they are influenced. Culture plays a large role in determining these factors. It is the obligation of the teacher, therefore, to comprehend the cultural diversity of the students and device teaching methods to overcome the challenges they pose. The teacher should possess the knowledge and ability to identify suitable sources of culturally acceptable resources that are acceptable within the learning environment. He/she should be able to make application of aspects of the students? culture to the lesson (where applicable) as the application of prior knowledge helps students learn best. Teachers should also possess the skills to build a comfortable and relaxed social setting in the classroom whereby students of all backgrounds feel capable, confident and willing to learn. According to Jean Moule (2011) this calls for cooperative learning; a situation in which students of all types of background and ability are grouped together. This entails that the teacher must have the skill to guide culturally and socially diverse students through cooperative interaction, to combine their varied skills and background knowledge to gain the most education possible. Teachers should look for books that portray people from other cultures in contemporary roles and avoid books that label cultures or characters or those that elevate the status of one culture over another. And finally, it is important to try to balance the library among many cultures (if applicable). The result would be an increased motivation to students as they see their culture being acknowledged and their presence respected. Conclusion In conclusion, it is clear that for a teacher to be effective in the classroom, he/she must recognize the existence of diversity in culture and must be sensitive to this in terms of learning the students? various cultures and imbibing this in the lessons. Especially important is the need to create a setting in which all students feel relaxed and comfortable and willing to participate in the class activities. REERENCES 1) James A. Banks (2005) ?Cultural Diversity and Education: Foundations, Curriculum, and Teaching? (5th Edition) 2) Mikel Hogan-Garcia (2006) ?Four Skills of Cultural Diversity Competence: A Process for Understanding and Practice? 3) Jean Moule (2011) ?Cultural Competence: A Primer for Educators?