Multicultural lessons about the community or the world are not always easy to access in all subject areas but as an ELL teacher, it can be quite easy to gear lessons to enrich students about the world we live in. If planning is done in a careful and thoughtful manner students will not only learn about many other cultures outside of their own but also get excited about the content they are learning. Learning English can be a huge struggle for students in South Korea for various reasons and affects their motivation in many ways. As an ELL teacher, I can show them how important knowing a second language can be to them and all the opportunities they will gain as they progress in their abilities.
South Korea is a very homogenous country and students (from lower SES) often don’t have the opportunity to travel to other countries or to interact with a variety of “foreigners” in their country on a regular basis. Most of their exposure would then be in the classroom and that’s how EFL/ELL teachers can make an important impact on students lives. Teaching them about music, cultural differences, foods, and many other topics can easily be incorporated into lessons. Teaching them to be compassionate, kind and understanding to others are invaluable life lessons that will help them in all their future indevours. Teaching students a second language and tying in multicultural perspectives also means they are equipped to deal with slang language or other unusual expressions and to be aware of cultural faux pas they might stumble upon.
How can we see if students are becoming culturally aware? This is a difficult question to answer for a number of reasons. Teaching mostly young(er) students for short periods of time, it is hard to measure or see if they are developing cultural awareness. The biggest measure would be their attitude towards the study material and motivation to learn “English” not only as a school subject but as a life skill. If students are willing to ask their teachers’ questions about interesting facts they come across or try to use different greetings it would surely help to measure their competence. But also seeing more empathy and compassion towards classmates would mean they are thinking of the world in bigger terms and that would be a small but great start.
- Building Emotional Literacy. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/emotional-literacy-building-nsf
- Encouraging Students to Take Action. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/prepare-civic-engagement-edda