Teach English in Blainville - TEFL Courses

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Cultural Sensitivity in the Classroom teachers of english as a second language often find themselves in countries other than their own, which many times function under a totally different culture system. It is therefore important for the teacher to become aware of the students' culture and pay attention to issues that could impair his ability to create an interesting and interactive class, but also impair the students' ability to be productive. It is suggested that the traditional teaching program encourages the teacher to deal with the linguistic rather than the cultural aspects of the lesson. However, it is more often that cultural issues create problems by causing a breakdown in communication, which lead to cross-cultural misunderstandings (Irving, 2001). Such issues become an obstacle and distant the students from the teacher, resulting in a difficult and unsuccessful interaction. In the same way, students often are taught the language by being presented with the structure, pronunciation, stress, and intonation, but are less introduced with the rules of how to communicate in a particular cultural context (Irving, 2001). More often than we would like, this creates problems in the attempts students make to use the language, and results in misunderstandings. Therefore, the teacher should make an effort to understand the students' culture and the differences it presents to the english culture and communication styles, by making the link between communication and culture (Irving, 2001), in order to pinpoint areas where the students should pay more attention. Another important issue is the difference between the study skills and strategies cross- culturally, which can have important implications in the students' learning, as well as the development of rapport between the students and the teacher. Research has shown that students from different cultures differ in their learning styles, self-expressions, and communication styles (Huang & Brown, 2009). Consequently, cultural differences should be addressed to prevent implications that could impair the students' ability to absorb as much as possible from the lesson, and which could also prevent the teacher from creating an effective lesson plan and minimize academic difficulties caused by cultural factors (Huang & Brown, 2009). The teacher has a number of strategies to incorporate into the lesson in order to create rapport and enhance communication. As people from different cultures usually share different interests, a productive way to increase student participation and interest in the classroom could be to involve materials that are relevant to the specific culture's shared interests. Therefore, by introducing materials that are culturally relevant to the students, the teacher promotes interest and encourages participation (Huang & Brown, 2009). An additional problem resulting from the lack of cultural awareness is the effect of cultural beliefs on communication. While in some cultures the student is expected and encouraged to ask questions and raise concerns, in other cultures, students are hesitant to express a lack of understanding of the teacher's instructions and assignments (Huang & Brown, 2009). By being aware of such a trend, the teacher could avoid wasting valuable time before he realizes that the students do not understand his instructions and his teaching is not effective. Consequently, it is suggested that we must make a conscious effort to increase awareness of the students' informal level of culture in order to better understand the courses and effects of the influence of culture (Irving, 2001). A necessary precursor to cultural awareness is the culture shock that results from the change in the commonly perceived signs and symbols of social interaction. This initially negative and discomforting feeling can, with good will and broadmindedness, have beneficial effects (Irving, 2001), and help the teacher acquire knowledge about the students' culture that could prove constructive during the course.