Teaching multiculturalism in the classroom is important. Especially when the total number of international students enrolled in schools in the United States has been on the rise in the past few years, according to College View, a worldwide recruiting service.
At the basic level, multicultural education provides a fundamental education for all students, with the purpose of eliminating discrimination because of ethnic origin and background. By incorporating many cultures into the classroom, schools can celebrate diversity, learn about cultures around the world and raise awareness.
Here are four steps to bring multiculturalism into your classroom.
1. Provide a basic education for all students
Keep in mind that there are stereotypes for international students. By understanding that you will be teaching students from many different walks of life, you will have won half the battle. Therefore, do not favor or ignore international students specifically. You may feel like you should favor these students so you can teach them more, but it is important to treat all of your students, international or not, with the same respect and understanding.
2. Address language and cultural norms
- Dispel myths that are often associated with certain cultures
- Avoid using jargon while speaking
- Be willing to use multiple forms of communication to convey ideas
- Repeat and recap information
- Use visual aids for clarity
- TESOL, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc. encourages the usage of multiple modes of learning: including logical, mathematical, literate, kinesthetic, music and spatial methods.
- Active listening may also help when there is a moderate language barrier
- Reading material on cultural norms may also help with transitions. Gestures in one part of the world may not mean the same thing in others.
3. Make it a learning experience
If you have just a few international students in your classroom, the best way to integrate their new perspective into your classroom is to integrate their cultures into the curriculum as well. One of the best ways for younger students includes incorporating fairy tales and folklore into the learning. Storytelling is a great way to have your students learn about new customs.
Other ways to connect:
- Have guest speakers: Invite West African Jenbe drummers or Russian ballerinas into your class for a performance and question session. Students can watch the ethnic art and ask questions about the countries the performers are from after the show.
- Penpals: Using Sincerely Yours Penpals, your students can connect to other students the same age around the world. Just fill out the information on the site and your class will be on its way to be assigned a group of penpals to write letters and send pictures.
- Poster projects: Encourage your students to get creative with paper and markers by having them research a country of their choice and make a poster about it. While this seems simple, the research your students will have to do will provide them with basic knowledge of places they may have never heard about.
- International Night: You can host an International Night in your classroom by incorporating many different cultures into one evening. Or you can choose just one country and have a themed night with stations and food that features the country of your choosing. Invite students and their parents to school to participate in the activities.
4. Celebrate Diversity
While initially it may seem difficult to incorporate many different cultures into the lesson plans of only one classroom, keep in mind that international students can teach you and your students’ new things as well. They may tell you folk stories you would have never read in books, or they may bring in a food for snack that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to sample.
By Kelly McLendon. Kelly is studying Environmental Policy and Journalism. She can be reached at email@example.com.