Teaching communication, language, and literacy for a range of diverse learners.
Quality early childhood education is a fundamental human right for every young child. It is only when we appreciate these rights that we are compelled to provide learning in an atmosphere based on high-quality pedagogical practices. To improve pedagogy, we must reflect on our early childhood teaching techniques. The benefits of learning rather than a one-size-fits-all method are promoted when we examine the purpose of school and investigate modern approaches to early childhood education. It is possible to trace the roots of early childhood education back to Martin Luther’s period in 1500. There is also a growing and complex diversity of languages being taught in schools and classrooms, as well as a variety of educational and programme environments in which they are being studied and taught (Dobinson & Buchori, 2016). Participants in these programmes include both students and teachers, each of whom brings a unique set of life-world experiences and expertise to the task of learning languages. For language instructors, the consequences of working in and with this increased variety in languages education are numerous and complex, as they strive for a move away from the communicative to an intercultural approach. Individuals from all around the world are also sharing knowledge, ideas, and resources. Communication becomes more complex and faster than ever before, both in terms of scope and means. In response to this tendency, language and cultural diversity will rise.
Even when we understand the foundations of family practice, there will be times when we vehemently disagree with it. You need to remember that various methods of doing things aren’t inherently detrimental. All of us who work with children know that children are resilient. Their ability to adapt and flourish allows them to recognise that care, comfort and love come in many forms and from a variety of sources. Adults need to accept, appreciate, and comprehend the differences to avoid problems and misunderstandings (Savage, 2020). Consider asking the parents about the differences you’ve noticed while being mindful not to look judgmental. Think of yourself as a student rather than an expert and study how parents interact with their children. In the end, you may get useful insights about certain child-rearing techniques by remaining open-minded and curious.
Multilingual children are referred to as multilingual children, and early childhood educators must be able to converse with them. Multilingual children’s growing identities as respected and knowledgeable members of their communities, as well as their language acquisition, are impacted by this type of interaction with their local communities(Dobinson & Buchori, 2016). By giving children examples of how to use language and communicate effectively, as well as by providing instructors with regular opportunities to assess for understanding, discussions between educators and children have been proven to improve language acquisition. These talks focus on the learning objective in a small group of children and instructors (Perry et al, 2017). However, for these talks to be productive, multilingual children must be actively involved. Children in preschool classrooms that serve culturally and linguistically diverse learners frequently engage with instructors by providing and receiving directions, with little chances for children to practise creating multiword phrases.
Through play-based learning, children may interact with people, things, and the environment in a way that encourages them to use their imagination. The importance of symbolic representation cannot be overstated. For example, children may organise and create their worlds when playing. They may also behave as if they are in control of their worlds while pretending. In addition to supporting a child’s holistic development (physically and socially) as well as their cognitive and creative faculties, it may also help a wide range of reading and numeracy abilities. When it comes to scaffolding, the teacher’s role is vitally important. Support, initiate and generate play, for example, miniature worlds, socio-dramatic, puppets, media, block, sand and water actively engage in and guide play — before during and after it has occurred. Active, agentic, collaborative, creative and scaffolded are just a few of the various qualities that may be used successfully.
Writing, speaking, reading, and listening are all interwoven in the “whole language” learning method. Experience and past knowledge are key factors in learning a new language. Enriching children’s reading skills through the whole language approach (also known as balanced literacy) requires children to be exposed to the idea that language is a system of components that work together to generate meaning. While this method may ignore phonics, one of the components of the strategy is the use of phonemic awareness (or sub-lexical reading).
It is the language instructors who have the most influence on the classroom when it comes to addressing the problem of diversity in teaching, learning, and evaluation. When it comes to communicating meaning within and across cultures, students and foreign language teachers must grapple with the changes in theoretical constructs for “communication” and “understanding,” as well as how to operationalise these for teaching-learning and evaluating students’ knowledge of foreign languages and cultures. Having the opportunity to integrate their worlds of language and communication with what they learn in school is essential for all children (Murrup-Stewart et al, 2020). Multiple instructional tools and resources that link to students’ real-life experiences are another topics of emphasis within CRT (Perry et al, 2017). Noting that the selection of materials alone is never enough, but its value must not be disregarded, is crucial.
When conversing with children in your programme, you can use their native languages, even if you don’t speak them. Make use of the aid of your family members by calling them to come to teach you or the class essential terms. You can also ask them for ideas on books and music written and recorded in their native languages. Recall that you can always react to children, even if you don’t speak the same language. You may accomplish this by utilising body language and other communication methods, such as photos and objects.
Methods like TPR use non-verbal communication to help teach and learn languages. Mime (gestures, actions, and facial expressions), objects and photographs, context, and rephrasing are some of the strategies that can be used to communicate. Encourage students to use action words (verbs) by physically doing or acting the action. Language does not exist in a vacuum, but rather is a part of the culture and is influenced by it. Translating words or sentences from English is only one part of teaching and learning a language; it also involves learning about cultural components like customs, values, and suitable ways to behave. Indigenous languages have a cultural overlay that can influence how the language is spoken within the community, and this is true for most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages as well (Craven, 2020). Teaching and learning a language “on the country” or in a cultural setting will improve knowledge and appreciation of the language.
For language teaching and learning, these tools can be invaluable. Make recordings of Elders and language speakers so that students in the school community can learn from them, or use historical recordings if none are accessible. To record and document languages, there are a variety of technologies, such as computer software, at our disposal. They can also be used to create teaching and learning materials, as well as other material to assist sustain and preserve languages.
Children were born in the Internet era, which means they grew up with it. Several of them have more technological know-how than the people who are supposed to teach them. Educators must become fluent in these children’s language and familiar with the technology that comes so readily to them. As a result of integrating technology, teachers may tap into students’ passions and improve their technical abilities, all while delivering richer learning possibilities. Just like with every new invention, many instructors who are eager to stay up with technology just go through the motions of incorporating it. The era of teacher-centred instruction is over. It’s becoming more common for effective instructors to take on a student-centred approach. In classrooms, cooperative learning increases engagement by encouraging students to communicate with one another. This method maximises involvement because the instructor doesn’t have to call on one student at a time. The students put in just as much effort as the instructors. The instructor is no longer a one-man show, but rather a facilitator who facilitates the learning process.
Setting goals in the early stages should be done clearly and simply, for example, by having frequent two-way talks with children about their development in certain areas. Assisting students in creating goals is made easier with the use of organisers, anchor charts, and other similar tools. This collection of Free Printable Behavior Charts includes a variety of charts that may be used by young children. Rather than teaching one topic at a time, teaching many disciplines at once can help pupils acquire concepts and skills far more deeply (Peacock & Prehn, 2021). As a result, the instructor is required to do more. Math, science, and social studies curriculum may be easily integrated with reading and writing. However, combining all of the concepts at once is more difficult. Consider some of the primary techniques to concurrent learning (Silburn et al, 2011). When students participate in project-based learning, they complete a task that has a tangible outcome.
It is possible for educators, such as principals and coaches, to ensure that both the classroom atmosphere and curriculum are sensitive to the growing cultural variety of our society in several ways (Peltier, 2017). These techniques will promote cultural understanding among all children, strengthening each student’s sense of identity, and fostering inclusion in the classroom community.
Find out more about your students- Educators must get to know each student before they can promote cultural understanding in the classroom. Get to know your students better by knowing more about their backgrounds, interests and learning styles. Showing genuine interest in learning about them and their culture will make students feel valued. Communication is the foundation of a culture-aware classroom. Students are more inclined to appreciate and interact with their peers if they feel respected and comfortable with the instructor.
Communicate Consistently- Teachers should not only develop a connection with their students but also stay in touch with them throughout the semester or year. If you schedule frequent one-on-one meetings with students, you can increase your ability to make the classroom more accessible for everyone. Perhaps they’ll share their feelings about being part of a classroom community. As a result, problems may be pinpointed and changes can be implemented. In addition, it’s a chance to review their accomplishments in the class and provide advice on how they may develop based on their particular requirements as a student.
Everyone should be acknowledged and respected- Students should likewise appreciate and respect their own and each other’s different backgrounds. Whenever possible, instructors should encourage pupils to learn about their own ethnic and cultural roots by conducting research. To better comprehend their own culture and the distinctions and subtleties of their peers, they must first grasp the culture of their own. Furthermore, this may be a fantastic way to break the ice in the classroom by encouraging students to share information about their family customs and culture.
Make an effort to be culturally sensitive- Keep an open conversation among students, but be attentive to everyone’s cultural, religious, and linguistic concerns. Spend time learning about each student’s culture, from learning techniques to the language they speak. By way of example, give English language learners the materials they need to develop their English comprehension abilities(Peltier, 2017). Instead of lecturing, design learning experiences that are more engaging and involve cooperation.
Remembering the importance of diversity and cultural understanding in the classroom, as well as the advantages it may have on students both now and in the future, is essential to our success. Educating kids about other cultural and socioeconomic groups prepares them to be better citizens in their communities. Using these culturally sensitive teaching methods, you may encourage diversity in the classroom.
Kids are still able to see skin colour and the differences between them, even in a multi-racial society. Racial acceptance and sensitivity should permeate the classroom, both among students and among teachers. Both teachers and students must respect and acknowledge the impact of race on their students. Individual identities are shaped by more than just differences in appearance; culture and heritage play a significant role. While race is confined to a few categories, ethnicity encompasses a wide range of countries, towns, villages, and tribes. Knowing the ethnicities of your students will help you to better understand their unique interests and perspectives, which are shaped by their ethnic backgrounds (Van der Lans et al, 2018). Educationalists agree that teachers who are culturally sensitive and proficient, and perhaps themselves diverse, can help close the achievement gap between black and white students. Teaching students about the interconnectedness of life is a big part of a teacher’s job. Your students will feel more secure, develop healthy relationships, and have a positive impact on the world if you encourage and celebrate diversity in your classrooms. It’s important to have a variety of safe learning spaces. Here are some more specific reasons why teaching diversity in the classroom is important. Because of the importance of diversity and cultural understanding in the classroom, it’s vital to keep in mind that these techniques may assist kids today as well as in the future.
As they get older and encounter more diverse ideas, views, and cultural backgrounds, they’ll be more open-minded. As a result, they’ll be open to new ideas and able to obtain a greater grasp of a subject by examining several views. Due to their education, pupils who are exposed to different cultures feel more comfortable and secure in their interactions with people when they are older. Their confidence in themselves means that they can interact with a wider variety of different social groupings and feel more confident about themselves and their relationships with others.
Dobinson, T., & Buchori, S. (2016). Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes: Early childhood teachers’ perspectives and practices in one Australian setting. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (Online), 41(2),3252. https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/INFORMIT.855760600925421
Silburn, S. R., Nutton, G., McKenzie, J. W., & Landrigan, M. (2011). Early years English language acquisition and instructional approaches for Aboriginal students with home languages other than English: A systematic review of the Australian and international literature. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
Perry, N., Yee, N., Mazabel, S., Lisaingo, S., & Määttä, E. (2017). Using self-regulated learning as a framework for creating inclusive classrooms for ethnically and linguistically diverse learners in Canada. In Handbook on the positive development of minority children and youth (pp. 361-377). Springer, Cham. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-43645-6_22
Craven, R. (2020). Teaching Aboriginal studies: A practical resource for primary and secondary teaching. Routledge. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TJ3yDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT13&dq=aboriginal+teaching+with+culture&ots=QBHigc6uty&sig=Mw8UdRZl1tDxmsgEImcRnolzTF0
Van der Lans, R. M., Van de Grift, W. J., & van Veen, K. (2018). Developing an instrument for teacher feedback: using the Rasch model to explore teachers’ development of effective teaching strategies and behaviours. The journal of experimental education, 86(2), 247-264. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00220973.2016.1268086
Savage, R. (2020). Aboriginal language and culture nests: Teaching and learning Aboriginal languages and culture in NSW. Scan: The Journal for Educators, 39(10), 16-21. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TJ3yDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT13&dq=aboriginal+teaching+with+culture&ots=QBHigc6vpA&sig=QC3ixZPkmtMJkDEg3AXQ4WmFV3I
Peltier, S. (2017). An Anishinaabe perspective on children’s language learning to inform “seeing the aboriginal child”. Language and Literacy, 19(2), 4-19. https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/langandlit/index.php/langandlit/article/view/29338
Peacock, H., & Prehn, J. (2021). The importance of Aboriginal Education Workers for decolonising and promoting culture in primary schools: an analysis of the longitudinal study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 50(1), 196-202. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/australian-journal-of-indigenous-education/article/importance-of-aboriginal-education-workers-for-decolonising-and-promoting-culture-in-primary-schools-an-analysis-of-the-longitudinal-study-of-indigenous-children-lsic/2FE0304A88A19B3DCE99355801FD7EE0
Murrup-Stewart, C., Whyman, T., Jobson, L., & Adams, K. (2020). Understanding culture: the voices of urban Aboriginal young people. Journal of Youth Studies, 118. https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=u1SeAu4AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra
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