This work seeks to answer the following question: How can the ethnic or cultural background of an individual be used in making learning meaningful, engaging and appropriate?
The United States is composed of very many people of different social cultural origins. Although the major language spoken is English, there are a minority of people who speak English plus other languages while still a smaller number speaks other languages alone with little or no knowledge of English. However, the inability of an individual to be literate in English should not be viewed as a limiting factor in the process of learning. Someone’s native language should present a good opportunity for him or her to become bilingual and thus makes him or her be able to understand more than one person. Research has shown that the children who are have two languages, that is, English and another ethnic language are more likely to be brighter than the other children with only one language. Research has also established that the abolishment of a native language of a child in school makes him or her slow learner. Therefore, the native language of a child or an individual should not be ignored (Rossell, & Baker, 1996).
How to Address Tokenism
Tokenism is a term used to refer to the practice or the policy of making limited inclusion of some members of a certain minority group. The aim of this practice is to give an impression of an all inclusive thing although it is a false appearance. It may be intentional or unintentional. In the education system there is usually a false impression that the government has included the minority. This is however wrong because there is only one or two languages included in the official languages to be used in the schools. The rest of the languages are ignored. However, because of the presence of one of the languages of a minority group in the education system, all the minority tribes have a false perception that they are included in the system. To address this, as instructors, we need to avoid the use of only one language. We should instruct the individual students in their own native language although we will still teach them English for effective communication with the rest of the people. We will ensure that we do not concentrate on one language alone and thus make use of all the languages available (Gray, 2008).
How to Apply the Knowledge about Individual Students in Classroom
In the instruction of a student, it is very important to consider the native language of that student. Giving instructions to the students in their own native language increases the probability of that student understanding better. Research has shown that those students who are taught using their native language understand better than those taught using the second language. This is not to say that the students should not be allowed to learn English if it is not their first language. If the student’s first language is not English, he or she should be taught in his or her language and also learn English as one of the subjects. This will help in making the student understand better the instructions in her or his native language while at the same time making him or her is able to communicate with the rest of people. Thus, by using the individual’s native language in instructing him or her in class, learning for that student becomes more effective and very appropriate (Wiley, 1997).
Teachers Accessing Information about the Student’s Language and Culture Background
The teacher must be able to identify the cultural background of the student so that he or she can effectively use it to address the student. There are several avenues of getting the information. First, the teacher can be trained in school. This will give the instructor a lot of information about a certain culture. He or she will also learn about several languages and be able to teach the individual students using the language of the student. Secondly, the instructor can make a lot of reading from several sources including books and internet. With that he or she will be able to understand that language and the culture of the student. The knowledge he or she gains will be used in the class for the purpose of that individual student who uses that culture. Lastly, the teacher can use information from mass media to understand the culture of the student (Norgren, & Nanda, 1988).
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