How to Encourage Cultural Sensitivity in the Classroom?
This is a sensitive but necessary topic. To create an environment of tolerance in the educational institution is a duty of all the people working on it. In the past, I use to work as a tour guide in the rain forest. My job consisted of bringing a family of foreigners to an Amazonian indigenous community, it was the clash of people with a completely different cultural background. The majority of times I guided europian or North American through the jungle and I learned how different context makes different people create their values and personalities. The most important thing I learned was to respect that difference and create empathy with dialogue and demonstrations. Understanding the problems and issues of the other classmates helped them to realize that they were not so different from each other and that they are both humans with dreams and pain.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Mónica J. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Attention to the problem
One of the teachings of environment education is that “To respect something first you have to know it”. In the classroom, especially for Young learners, If the teacher spot intolerance to other cultures or other students the teacher will need to follow the institution code and draw attention to the problem.
The teacher needs to address the issue in the classroom as well, is important to have cultural exchange with exercises during the lesson after you spot intolerance. For me, the best way to encourage cultural sensitivity on students is to introduce activities and study material with multicultural content and respectful speech at the moment of talking of diversity. This cloud is related to art and history of their particular background, creating a base of knowledge from each other. There is a wide range of options like films, songs, articles, and so on; that could fit the teaching requirements and bring the topic to class debate.
Ways to solve the problem
Also, storytelling and recreations of tales could be a good way to familiarise themselves with each other depending on the level of English, it also is fun. As teachers, we encourage the students to communicate constantly in English; for me, during speaking and writing exercise, it is important to use as a topic personal questions or family and friends related, encourage to thought about social and environmental issues and share thoughts small presentations. Sending homework related to the topic it will lead the student to do some research and find out much more than he used to know about the topic
These practices will create a place of tolerance as well as create a respectful environment among the students. According to the level of English, this could enrich the classroom experience and homework as well as the motivation to express better the student's ideas.
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This is a sensitive topic that education needs to consider at the moment of working on academic text or teaching. The teacher needs to be sensitive to the students of different races, genre and cultural backgrounds inside and outside the class. It is important to be aware that the teacher is considered a role model and their behavior will be considered as socially accepted. The rates of bullying to minorities or sensitive kids are high on highs schools and universities, sometimes this behavior persists to adulthood.
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