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Ways to Improve Cultural Sensitivity in the Classroom

Ways to Improve Cultural Sensitivity in the Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Culture is ubiquitous. Today, a lot of people, especially teachers, are aware of how culture plays a major role not only within the educational realm but everywhere. Indeed, it takes an astute observation and deep understanding of cultural sensitivity in the classroom. It is noteworthy to claim that cultural belongings shape our communicative skills and thoughts, which in return enable us to sympathize with people having different cultural backgrounds. To promote cultural sensitivity in the classroom, teachers should at least be culturally knowledgeable, adaptive and celebrating diversity.

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

Cultural Awareness

The point of departure starts with knowledge. The latter is very crucial in today’s multicultural world because education has always been a key component to achieve a better understanding. Therefore, building cultural knowledge is a must. Any teacher should develop his or her competencies in terms of communication. In other words, he or she should have the ability to deal with cultural diversity to encourage students to be more open to other cultures.

This, eventually, would create a harmonious class in which students would eagerly learn from each other, understand and help each other throughout their educational path. It is imperative then to say that education is the leading way to success. However, educated teachers, who are disregarding the significance of cultural diversity, are about to be incompetently irrational. A supportive activity would include pair work or group work. As an illustration, a teacher might choose to team up students who have different cultural backgrounds and ask them to discuss a topic to foster cultural awareness. The decrease of cultural biases would certainly be attained by building a healthy environment for both students and teachers.

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Adaptation is also of paramount significance when dealing with cultural sensitivity. Following this premise, a good teacher is the one who believes that although there are numerous different cultures, commonalities do exist. Additionally, one should not be ethnocentric in the sense that he or she would favor his or her own cultural beliefs and values over others. Sticking into a single philosophy would hinder the development of any teacher, that’s why a teacher who tries to fit in within dissimilar cultures is a person who would enlighten students to be more positive towards others and would also reduce conflicts within the classroom. Generally, the teachers’ performance should be adaptive to adjust the environment for all students despite their cultural differences. The adjustment is, essentially, progressed to meet students’ needs and preferences for the sake of enhancing learning.

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Praise and Compliment

Everyone likes to be complimented, let alone young learners. Celebrating diversity is one of the astonishing things that should be promoted and maintained in every class. Consequently, teachers’ expression of their interests in various ethnic backgrounds is a great stepping stone towards positive results. For instance, a good teacher can challenge his or her students to introduce themselves and ask other students to pronounce their names as a sign of acceptance which would, innocently, lead to creating friendship bonds. Another activity might revolve around asking each student at the end of the session to share their different lifestyles encompassing their customs, beliefs, rituals... Such activities performed in the class would, simply, open the doors for creative ideas to strengthen up the relationship between students and their teachers.

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Build Relationships

A few additional ideas might be of great help to improve cultural sensitivity. As far as I am concerned, I believe that none of the aforementioned backgrounds would be meaningful if the role of the teacher is not emphasized. Differently stated, a teacher should act as a facilitator more than an instructor. Accordingly, understanding students and encouraging them to voice their say is also helpful to upgrade and promote cultural sensitivity.

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To sum up, cultural sensitivity is a phenomenon that has been witnessed in every community even since the advent and expansion of multiculturalism. In the sector of education, all teachers have to be aware that such an event has sparked debates over time. Therefore, it is almost a prerequisite to have some qualifications and skills to perform the teaching courses professionally.

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