Cultural Awareness in TEFL Teaching
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) involves dynamic, cross-cultural English language instruction, requiring a level of intentional, service-oriented cultural sensitivity and awareness with new English learners that may not be so readily understood or relevant with native speakers from the United States of America. Beyond the memorization of rote grammar, language proficiency, public speaking, reading comprehension, and other elements of linguistic aptitude, there must first be a deliberate recognition of the unique challenges of a non-native speaker of the English language. While our units do not suggest that instructors allow learners to speak in their native tongue regularly, its use does not necessarily suggest an avoidance or abdication of their responsibility to learn English.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate MAUREY B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Careful Presentation in Class
Whether the English language learner is a newcomer or a tested language veteran, the English teacher should exercise due diligence and thoughtful deliberation in the way that they present their instruction. From hand gestures to physical proximity, cultural sensitivity requires that the instructor be cognizant of the verbal and non-verbal cues that their lesson plans might be received. For instance, if a group of female foreign students with minimal exposure to your Western cultural customs entered a class and was confronted with direct communication with male strangers, it may create undue anxiety.
Fellowship and Cultural Sensitivity
Cultural sensitivity in the classroom must also be exercised among fellow learners. Often, an English course may be multilingual and multicultural in its demographic composition, requiring that each student respect the cultural traditions and mannerisms of their peers as well. Also, as we learned from a brief synopsis of the relevant content revealed in Unit 9 that lesson planning requires thoughtful deliberation, strategic vision, and tactical precision throughout the process, which would be especially true in a dynamic, yet captive, multicultural environment of non-native speakers. I learned that lesson plans should not be overly rigid, but more responsive to the circumstances and abilities of the learners at a given time. It is that ongoing adaptability, flexibility, and compassion that will result in improved results with non-native speakers.
Also Read: Why You Should Prime Lesson Planning
Teacher and Learner
A brief review of the content from our units also outlined how clear interpersonal distinctions between teacher and learner, along with a synopsis of relevant characteristics to improve reading comprehension and pronunciation among students at different skill levels, can be impacted by the cross-cultural engagement found in English as a Foreign Language programs. Having learned more about the European Framework, along with effective strategies to improve the teacher-learner dynamic, the role of international approaches to English instruction can be beneficial in markets around the world. I was surprised to learn that non-native English speakers can evaluate language skills at an even younger age than I anticipated. With the proper guidance and empathy, cultural sensitivity in the classroom can impact English proficiency for not only the individual learner but for generations in their respective families and countries for years to come.
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Moreover, I recognized the different teaching styles should be applied to different students based on their abilities. Ultimately, beyond a dedicated focus on both terminology and pronunciation, cultural sensitivity exercised in the classroom will ensure English proficiency and interest around the world.
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