Culturally diverse classrooms are atypical feature in international Schools and a School’s success depends on how well they can weave in the curriculum so that each student benefits immensely.
So what about English learners? (Read as students who have not attained fluency in English) How can Schools bring in a comfort level and support students so that they do not end up in becoming long- term English learners?
Several discussions have been the focus with regard to such learners. Is bi-lingual education the way forward? Is it complete immersion or submersion? Can schools afford such a stand, considering the cost factors?
I aver the way out is a simple three-step process: Reach, Appreciate and Engage.
Teachers as a fundamental pivot for a School need to make English learners comfortable and build on their self-esteem. Reaching out to students by creating an environment of respect to culture, values and beliefs goes a long way in learning and behavior.
Appreciating learners for differences and celebrating the various cultures lends itself to a positive learning environment. Curiosity about students’ culture and observance of that at the back of the mind while planning lessons benefits a teacher to create a bond with the learners. For example: How do you say,_________ in your home language” will exhibit appreciation and make students feel loved and cared.
The teaching- learning process can be creatively designed using various strategies like Multiple Intelligences, Differentiated Instruction, vocabulary empowerment, windows for the essentials of English on a daily basis, visual representations etc. Challenging expectations are a pre- requisite and teachers need to keep in mind that lowering expectations spearheads lower levels of achievements.
Reach, Appreciate and engage our varied learners and the results will be bountiful and rewarding!
– Sunalini Benjamin,
Principal, International Centre for Excellence