Having the privilege of teaching in an international school and/or a class composed of students coming from different cultural backgrounds can be quite intimidating and challenging, but there are various strategies you can employ to use this diversity as a unique advantage. A multicultural classroom allows for you and your students to discover, respect, and appreciate different cultures, and even learn new things outside the curriculum. As such, we’ll be taking a look at various teaching tips and tactics to help you, and the entire class not only learn better but also learn more:
Get To Know Your Students (And Their Roots)
First off, let your students introduce themselves and have them give a brief background of their culture and also of the language(s) they speak. You need to take note of these so you can also do your reading and research later on as you’ll need it to be more culturally sensitive with your materials and teaching method, and also to allow you to promote cultural sensitivity and acceptance among the students better. Letting your students talk not only about themselves but also their culture lets them know that you (and the class) welcome and respect them and where they’re from.
Alternatively, you can use questionnaires and surveys, or have them write about their culture and background to save time, and also to allow shy students (or those who aren’t that proficient with speaking the language used in the classroom) to talk more about themselves and their culture better. You could also opt to do group exercises that let students interact with each other and share.
Promote Proper Etiquette and Cultural Sensitivity
When you put a group of diverse students in a classroom, there’s always the risk of conflict and discrimination. There’s also the issue of students unknowingly doing or saying something that could be deemed offensive in other cultures. As such, you have to pay particular attention to classroom etiquette and lay down ground rules and the basis for acceptable behavior in school (which should also be in line with the school’s rules and regulations).
In a diverse classroom, you should always emphasize the importance of respecting and being sensitive about different beliefs and customs. Lastly, you should encourage the class to speak up or talk to you if there are any issues with the reading materials, or if there are any instances of conflict and squabbles due to difference in culture.
Use Multicultural and Foreign Language Books
Language plays a huge role not only in cultural sensitivity, acceptance, and appreciation but in being able to communicate with one another properly. Reading books or literary works from different cultures and languages can be very enriching, and also allows students of those cultures and speak that particular language to feel appreciated and also provides them the unique opportunity to ‘teach’ the class. However, you still need to make sure that the reading materials you use are culturally sensitive and won’t offend students of different backgrounds. So take advantage of online shops that sell foreign language books for teachers for you to learn and teach Chinese, German, Spanish, and other languages in class.
Being able to adjust your teaching strategy to promote and embrace different cultures can be enriching for everyone. So make sure to take note of these tips so you can make the most out of your multicultural classroom.