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3 Practical Ways to Be Culturally Sensitive

3 Practical Ways to Be Culturally Sensitive | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Cultural sensitivity derives from the differences among different cultures throughout the world. In the context of English teaching, teachers who move to another country must seriously consider the cultural pattern in the targeted country or region.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Eleana V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

1. Learn about a new culture

Cultural diversity is by default a very interesting topic and teachers should prioritize in gaining more knowledge regarding the new culture into which they will be integrated. They have to be culturally sensitive during the lesson and be aware of the cultural differences that may arise. Before moving to different regions of the world, teachers should do thorough research about the country via books, travel guides, magazines. Internet is the best resource and thus they should devote remarkable time to become familiar with the culture of their students, the history of the country, demographics (i.e. population, etc.), the geography, the dress code and what adheres to the classroom.

Also Read: How to Implement TEFL if You're a Non-native Teacher

2. Control your actions

Moreover, at the beginning of their stay teachers must be conservative in their behavior, speech, and actions. They will need time to adapt and feel confident in order not to cause any offense. Concerning greetings, teachers must learn about the formal/ informal greetings of the new country until they find appropriate alternatives. Along the process of teaching, teachers will be able to develop their greetings and codes with students- a process that embraces the familiarity of the teachers with their new working environment and their adaptability in a completely new country.

3. Consider socio-political environment

English teachers must be culturally sensitive in a classroom in terms of political and social matters. Socio-political issues are a very sensitive topic and one must be discrete and conservative particularly when he becomes a resident of a completely new country/ region. The socio-political framework of a country might utterly differ from others and thus, teachers have to be on the safe side and never speak of those issues in the classroom unless they believe that their opinion will not be misrepresented. Stereotypes, as a key cultural aspect, can easily mislead peoples’ viewpoint. Consequently, the teacher has to review if there is any truth in those stereotypes and act accordingly both inside and outside the classroom.

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Besides this, teachers must be very aware of what and whom they discuss in the classroom. People from the organization who are not present in the classroom should never be discussed and that stems from the teacher’s attention and maturity. Another issue regarding teachers’ behavior is the sarcastic comments towards his students. Unfortunately, sarcasm is not perceived equally by all individuals let alone young people and that’s why teachers should avoid sarcastic comments in the classroom.

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Overall, teachers should bear in mind that a new country can embrace them only if they are willing to immerse themselves into the culture and be flexible within their surroundings. Cultural sensitivity must be the vantage point of an English teacher as a foreigner in a new country and from this point, he will be able to embrace the new culture as well as the classroom’s environment.

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