In the recent past, there has been an increase in cultural diversity in the educational institutions. Teachers and students have different cultural identities relating to variables such as race, ethnicity, nationality, social class and religion. Cultural identity affects the student teacher and parent or home interaction. Students are affected in terms of learning, belief in self and academic performance where there is low affirmation and acceptance of different cultures in the educational curriculum(Ndura, 2004).
Where there is inequality or discrimination against certain cultures, the students and parents feel isolated adversely affecting their interaction even with the community. It is therefore important to have educators who are aware of the impact of cultural identity. They will understand the actions of the student once they appreciate the student’s cultural identity(Banks, 2001). It involves having open and understanding multicultural conversations in the classroom. Everyone should confront and eliminate negative and stereotypical images or perceptions concerning other cultures. Cultural differences should be respected. In the educational curriculum, there should be programs and courses in relation to different cultures for all students to feel part of the system. This positive approach helps to resolve conflicts that arise due to cultural differences.
Socio-Cultural Effects on ELL
There are certain social-cultural effects on the English Language Learners (ELL). Researchers have put forward that the process of language learning is also a social and cultural learning process known as language socialization. Therefore language is the medium through which the ELL gets to learn the different culture, interact with it, analyse the culture in their minds and finally accept and even be transformed into absorbing that culture(Au, 1998). It is however not a practice of simply accepting all the cultural norms, the ELL will be
engaged in discursive interactions where his actions and reactions will be multi-layered. In the end, the individual will negotiate and re-establish multiple ideologies andidentities. In the host cultural environment, during the communicative process, the ELL comes to understand the acceptable behaviours and values. It is a process however and intercultural misunderstandings, communication breakdowns, ridicule and at times discrimination may be the extra fees that the ELL has to pay till he is socialized.
Getting to understand the host culture helps in language socialization however where the individual resists to adapt at all to any of the host practices, there will be highincongruencebetween the home and education experience leading to challenges in language learning, cultural roles and social identity. In the host country, the individual also gets to understand that after they finish school, a linguistic resource is a form of economic and social capital since it assists one to get prestigious jobs with high social mobility in the society.
Bilingualism and Home Language Use
There has been a lot of research on the effect of bilingualism and home language use on the education of a child. There are certain associated costs and benefits. In the recent years, there has been a rise in cultural diversity in schools with students being bilingual or even multilingual. They have to learn English as it is not their first language. In previous studies it was believed that being a bilingual child was a disadvantage since it adversely affected the learning experience of a child. The children would end up having lower IQ than their counterparts and even experience academic retardation. There would also be problems in socialization. These views were widely held in the 1950s.
However, in the recent years, the views have changed and the researchers have noted certain benefits of being bilingual. Those children who learn a second language in childhood perform better when it comes to learning other foreign languages in their adulthood(Astaneh&Keshavarz, 2004). The bilinguals have sensitivity when it comes to language more than their counterparts. As the individual internalises the two languages, he becomes a complex person and it helps with his cognitive development.
Encouraging Parent Involvement
In getting parents from diverse backgrounds to get involved in the education of their children, schools should stop using traditional approaches to foster parent involvement. The traditional approaches focus on what the parents can do for the school in terms of raising money and supervising school trips. It is not interactive or collaborative. It is better to have non-traditional approaches where the schools work with the parents to support them. The school should appreciate the importance of informal activities at home since the children are nurtured with great cultural values. The parents may be empowered in the schools through training on how to communicate values and culture to the children.
Communication that encourages parental involvement
The ELL parents have communicated that they feel unwelcome in schools and the environment becomes a barrier to their involvement. Schools should therefore create a welcoming environment where the staffshave positive attitudes concerning cultural diversity. The schools should ensure that that the parents feel appreciated by the schools by getting language interpreters and scheduling meetings at convenient times at local community centres. These meetings will create opportunities for great social networks. The school can also schedule home visits to the parents and issue out bilingual newsletters informing families of what is happening at school. The school can also set up a multilingual telephone system.
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Au, K. H. (1998). Social constructivism and the school literacy learning of students of
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Banks, J. A. (2001). Multicultural education: Characteristics and goals. In J. A. Banks
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Hakuta, K. & Garcia, E. (1989).Bilingualism and Education.American Psychologist,
Ndura, E. (2004). Teachers' Discoveries of Their Cultural Realms: Untangling the Web of
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