5 Essential Strategies for ESL Teachers –

What can educators do to improve student learning? Here is where Culturally Responsive Teaching comes into play.

Culturally Responsive Teaching is also called Culturally Relevant Teaching. Nowadays, educators aim to implement Culturally Responsive Teaching rather than Traditional Teaching Methods.

Essentially, the main purpose of implementing Culturally Responsive Teaching strategies in ESL classrooms is to create an inclusive, safe, and immersive educational environment.

The Importance of Culturally Responsive Teaching

There are so many different approaches to teaching. To name a few, we have student-centred, self-paced, teacher-centred, and many more.

However, for Culturally Responsive Teaching, educators revise their instruction to help diverse students from different cultures to evoke better understanding. This is especially important in cross-cultural classrooms.

This type of teaching recognizes the significance of incorporating students’ cultural references in the process of learning. By doing so, underprivileged students have the opportunity to become independent learners.

The mainstream education style is not attending to the students’ current social context. To address this, classrooms should cater to students’ prior knowledge. If done right, this style of teaching will cause lasting change for students.

Integrating Culturally Responsive Teaching into your classrooms can have tremendous gains for you and your students. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Enhancing students’ self-identity
  • Strong inclusivity in classroom
  • Engaging and engaged students
  • Increasingly critical and creative thinking

Culturally Responsive Teaching vs. Traditional Teaching Methods

A culturally responsive class can present itself in different ways.

For example, in teaching literature using Traditional Teaching Methods, teachers usually steer the class with the works of classical authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, and Eugene O’Neills.

Meanwhile, Culturally Responsive Teaching believes that there’s no problem in using these traditionally accepted texts. However, teachers should also include a diverse form of literature from different cultures, settings and experiences.

This encourages students to relate to their own selves and past experiences with the material at hand. The learning process becomes enjoyable.

Instead of spoon-feeding your young students with the white world of literature, you’re displaying a diverse, multicultural society while relating it to the world today and most importantly, your students on a personal basis.

Strategies to Boost Culturally Responsive Teaching

Like many things in life, there is no easy way to make teachers culturally responsive. Having said that, it doesn’t take moving mountains for you to start embracing a more culturally responsive style of teaching either. In fact, some strategies are easy and uncomplicated.

Noted below are some simple ways that will help you to establish a culturally responsive classroom. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

1. Affirm students’ cultural connections

Teachers must remember that one size does NOT fit all! This is because each student has their own cultural upbringing. As such, empowering instruction is needed for each student in which it should relate to the students’ personal experiences and interests.

Next, teachers are not just educators, teachers are also a connecting bridge. Teachers offer students an opportunity to grow by linking the student’s culture and the school’s culture.

To do this, students must be treated as equal individuals, celebrating for both their differences and similarities.

Teachers must use the students’ prior knowledge and use them in the manner that generates the skills needed in current society. Hence, students should make choices about school tasks and be made aware of the worth of completing the task.

2. Foster an inviting learning environment

Foster an inviting learning environment

This step is important to promote a positive sense of belonging for students. In a physical class, you can play with seating, colors and music. For online classes, teachers can provide background music.

However, the most crucial aspect of this step is for the teachers to be personally welcoming. Thus, you must try to create a trusting relationship with your students.

As a culturally responsive teacher, you must be supportive, patient and warm. Here are some things to remember:

  • Providing frequent reviews and feedback
  • Considering students’ cultures when developing learning objectives
  • Involving parents/families of students in the education process
  • Necessitating strong two-way communication between student and teacher

3. Accept students holistically

Teachers’ acceptance of students is vital as this will lead the latter to perform better and become academically successful.

Teachers’ perception of student ability is the foundation for teacher behavior toward students. Thus, some practices that can be implemented are:

  • Fostering students’ independence in thinking as well as action
  • Continuously observe students’ academic progress
  • Promoting students’ value and recognizing students’ work
  • Assuring an equitable chance for all students to respond.

4. Accommodate and understand students’ differences

Accommodate and understand students' differences

As students are unique in their own way, teachers must generate a model of cultural competence.

Teachers must remember to apply various instructional strategies that build critical thinking. Other than that, teachers should recognize that there is a wide variety of learning patterns and make instructional changes accordingly.

5. Create a firm yet loving classroom

Teachers must try to establish positive relationships with their pupils so that they feel appreciated. Building those connections allows children to form a sense of community in the classroom and among themselves.

For example, teachers must remain respectful when correcting bad behavior. After all, discipline is intended to be educational rather than punitive.

What to Expect

As a culturally responsive teacher, you must seek ways to assist all children interacting in the classroom. Implementing culturally responsive teaching practices is a minor step toward change.

Lastly, teachers have a unique ability to influence the lives of their students. Incorporating attentive, inclusive instruction into the classroom can have long-term positive consequences for students.

To know more about improving your teaching experience and making learning meaningful for your students, check out other articles from our blog.

Have fun reading!