Cultural SensitivitySouth Africa has eleven official languages, and this makes it a rainbow nation full of cultural diversity. Having so many cultures gives rise to the issue of cultural sensitivity in the classroom and that teachers should do everything in their power to be sensitive to the cultures and needs of their students.
Students in a multi-lingual, multi-cultural classroom, most probably will have difficulty in adjusting and communicating with each other. The teacher can be sensitive to the various cultures by first doing a needs analysis and questionnaire survey. This will help the teacher to determine, which topics are interesting to everyone, and which topics are taboo in some cultures, so that adjustments can be made to the lesson plan, to make it more fun and applicable to all students.
Teachers can give students a sense of belonging, by assuring them that they will be accepted in class regardless of their culture, race or religion, and that everyone shares the same goal: learning english
. Teachers should treat all their students fairly and treat them the same: allowing no favouritism.
Teachers can compile lessons on family origins and cultural heritage, wherein they use activities in the activate phase, in which they pair students together of different cultures. These students can then ask each other in english
questions about their various cultures, which will foster a renewed understanding of, respect and sensitivity for different cultures. The students can also teach each other how to greet in their own languages. The teacher should take care not to pair students who are not of strong opposing sides, immediately, for example Zulu's and Xhosa's (African tribes), as this could lead to uncomfortable situations in the classroom. These students should gradually be made aware of each others cultural differences.
Although the main aim is to teach students english
, teachers should support literacy development of students with regards to their first language. It will promote the development of the english
language. Students can continue to practice reading and writing their native language in their spare time, or in any free time during class.
Cultural sensitivity in the classroom can further be adhered to, by teaching student essential words in the english
language, or words that they can learn to use for easier communication with others. This will help them avoid embarrassment in class and in everyday life. Teach the student how to ask for help, how to indicate or say if something that was said or done in class is offensive to their culture, how to ask for the time, how to say their sick, how to ask what books, materials or information will be discussed during class or during the next lesson.
Cultural sensitivity in the classroom can be debated and discussed at length, the fact remains, teachers should remember that every student that walks through the classroom door, has a right to be taught the same, treated the same, and evaluated the same, regardless of their race, religion, gender or ethnicity.