How Teachers And Schools Validate Students’ Language And Culture Essay Sample
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The diversity of students in classrooms today is an important factor that schools and educators should take into consideration when developing curricula, policies, and teaching strategies in order to ensure that each and every student will get the maximum learning that they can. The need to understand and affirm their cultural and linguistic background needs to be understood in order to determine their learning needs that would, in return, help educators adopt and develop teaching strategies that would address their learning needs and encourage student achievement. Students who come from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds have different ways of making meanings, as well as prior knowledge that they will bring inside the classroom. As such, schools and teachers should put more weight in validating every student’s cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
In a study by Dominguez, the attitude of Filipino students towards the use of Tagalog, Philippines’s native language, enrolled in a high school in the communities of Encanto and Skyline in San Diego, California. According to the article, Tagalog is the third most spoken language in the said communities, next to English and Spanish. A total of 15.6% of the residents were found to be speaking Tagalog in their homes (Dominguez 162), and as such, the high school offers Tagalog classes. However, the study concludes that the attitudes of the Filipino students were found to be different, with some showing favorable attitude towards the use of the language, while some showed disdain and irritation towards it.
40% of the students enrolled in the high school where the study was conducted were Filipino Americans. These can be atributed to the fact that the Philippines, being a former colony of the United States for 48 years. This made the Filipinos exposed to the English language, as well as the American ways, even back in the Philippines. The language was also taught in schools, was imposed to be the language of instruction during the US occupation, which makes the language widely spoken in the country. Some Filipinos even believed that learning and speaking the language meant greater success in education which equates to hig paying jobs (Dominguez 164). These factors explain why Filipinos living in San Diego proficient in English.
When Tagalog classes were offered in the said high school, Filipino American students had conflicting ideas about speaking the language. Some adolescents felt shy about using the language in the school setting because they viewed it as a lack of flueancy in English and could also be used as a tool for ridicule (Dominguez 169). There were some who revealed that although they use Tagalog at home, speaking the language in school labels them as inferior compared to native English speakers as Tagalog was not worthy to be the language of instruction. Some students also said that speaking the language categorizes them as immigrants who were F.O.B., or “Fresh Off the Boat” (Dominguez 168). Native English speakers also associate speaking Tagalog in school as doing gossip, trash talking, and doing ugly loudness. While some are concerned about what other classmates will say, some were reported to feel ashamed that they are not fluent in their own language. Based on my own experience, immigrants who speak their native language when at school were mostly made fun of by their classmates, which is why even though they are talking with their classmates who also came from the same country, they speak English.
The study indicates that teachers and schools validate Filipino students’ language by offering Tagalog classes. However, factors such as conflict between Filipino and American values, as well as wanting to fit into the mainstream group, made Filipino American students respond negatively to the Tagalog classes.
In another study conducted by Hendrickson, the reasons behind the resistance of studens to schooling in rural Appalachia was determined. Revolutionaries are deemed important in the modern society, especially when the said society is found to be functioning in oppressive circumstances. Revolutionaries are those people who fight for change, the critical thinkers who question and evaluate the existing status quo. However, students who resist schooling are viewed negatively, labeled as the ones who would most likely not contribute positively to the society. Schools and teachers consider acts of resistance from these students as acts of misbehaviors and would give them disciplinary punishments (Hendrickson 37). As a result, students become more resistant as they interpret the said consequences a perpetuation of inequalities in school (Hendrickson 37).
Interviews conducted with students who were observed to be resistant to engage with school revealed the three main reasons why they resist schooling. One of the reasons was family values and expectations. Some students in the rural Appalacchia were found to lack economic opportunities, and as such developed a high family value of cohesiveness (Hendrickson 39). These students were said to put more value on family relationship and cohesiveness more than pursuing personal achievement. As a result, instead of leaving to study college, they choose to stay and take care of the family. Another reason was quality and relevance of education, which was explained as students focusing more on vocational work instead of pursuing school education because it will help them more in life. Most jobs in the Appalacchia do not require education, and most families in the area have not observed economic advancement as a consequence of attending school, threfore concludnig that school does not necesarily guarantee a better life. These are the reasons why parents, as well as children, do not show interest in going to school. Lastly, misundertanding between teachers and students also encourage school resistance among students. Students who view vocational and hands-on courses to be more important rather than getting high grades were found to exert just enough effort in studying for them to obtain their diploma. This show of apparent lack of interest in studying was perceived negatively by teachers, which mostly resulted to negative consquences for children. As a result, students develop more resistance towards school. These factors, especially those which were highly influenced by parents’ opinions and teachings, are commonly seen in the society. Students who come low-income families value earning money and helping their families more than attending school, with the belief that school takes years but the needs of their families for food, housing, and others are immediate.
The study by Hendrickson highlights the importance of schools and teachers to validate the cultural backgrounds of their students. Instead of viewing students who show resistance in engaging with school negatively, it should be considered an oppportunity for conversation and critical change.
The study by Tyson, Castellino, and Daritiy, Jr. was based on the hypothesis which states that black students are more likely to show low school performance as a result of racialized peer pressure (582). This premise explains why there is a considerable achievement gap among black and white students in school. However, in the said study wherein interviews were conducted and a review of existing data in eight public schools in North Carolina, it was found that racialized peer pressure is not prevalent in all schools.
While many black students were said to be faced by the burdent of “acting white,” which meant speaking, and displaying attitudes or behaviors like white people do, and engaging in activities which white people normally do (Tyson, Castellino, and Daritiy, Jr. 583). Student participants in the study expressed their desire to do well academically. According to them, they take into consideration their preparedness for the course, how well they think they would do in the said course, or how much they would willingly take on the level of work the said course would require before makinga decision what course they would take up. Similarly, the said students also reported not receiving any peer pressure in excelling academically. According to them, instead of discrimination, they received public recognition for their achievement. They would also receive support, especially among friends, to achieve more academically and that pressure to underachieve was not felt even by those enrolled in advanced courses. However, in one of the eight schools studied, social isolation is observed among those blakc students who failed to “act white.” In the said school, acting white was connected to achievement, and as such, black students were found to achieve a lot lower academically compared to the other seven schools studied.
The study showed that despite the hypothesis about black students underachieving academically, and the theory of them “acting white” in order to belong, black students in most schools don’t have difficulties in doing well in school. Although the idea of racialized peer pressure is still existing, this does not extend to schools and teachers. Teachers and schools were not reported to exhibit racial discrimination among students, and if the reported achievements of the students were to be analysed, it would show that teachers and schools were successful in validating both white and black students’ culture.
In a study looking into the teaching practices of teachers with African American students in their class, Ladson-Billings was prompted by a previous study she conducted which looked into the academic performance of African American students. Her previous study revealed that African American students performed poor in academics and this result became an interest among school administrators and teachers. Previous studies reported that students find difficulties in school because teachers failed to insert education into the culture but inserted culture into education instead (Pewewardy qtd. in Ladson-Billings 159). Other studies with similar themes have looked into various ways that would establish continuity of what students are experiencing in their homes to what they are experiencing in schools. While other suggested integrating the students’ home language in schools, others find that establishing “cultural synchronization” between teachers and students would be a better solution to encourage high academic achievement.
The idea of “acting white” among African American students was also observed among student participants in Ladson-Billings’s study. However, factors such as culturally–relevant teaching method helped African American students to feel less pressure in school and are therefore encouraged to do better. For instance, using rap music in class in order to teach poetry was used by an African American teacher. Her students were asked to bring the lyrics of their favorite rap music which were non-offensive and were performed in class. Afterwards, they were discussed by looking into both the figurative and literal meanings that were being presented in the song. As a result, students were more participative during the discussion. This example illustrates how validating students’ culture can encourage student participation in class, and ultimately encourage academic achievement.
Other teachers who were participants in Ladson-Billings’s study were observed to use different patterns in their teaching. While some were very regimented and patterned, some were also more open and unstructured (Ladson-Billings 162). There were also some who implemented a combination of both styles, wherein in some activities lessons were structured while in some lessons were not. These different teaching methods applied by teachers showed that teachers consider their students’ initiation and reactions while in class. The different teaching methods were used in order to address the different reactions teachers were able to get from the students, as well as their suggestions, which were implied by their actions and responses during the discussion. This confirms that validating students’ culture are important in encouraging students to be more engaged and participate actively in school. Teachers establishing a more fluid and equitable relationship with their students were proven to have more benefits in student learning.
This result is also reflected in Bresser, Melanese, and Sphar’s article which looks into the importance of considering language in teaching Math to students who are also learning English as a second or third language. Through the Equity Principle, which requires that teachers accommodate the differences which is characteristic in a diverse student population, teaching methods in teaching Math among students who are not native speakers of English were taken into consideration.
The studies presented showed the different ways teachers and schools validate students’ culture and language in order to promote higher student learning. While other educators only focus on validating language, some looked into the importance of validating culture as well. Both efforts resulted to higher academic achievements among students, proving the importance of taking into consideration the language and culture of the students. There was also the factor of peer pressure, or the influence of classmates that were shown to hamper student learning. Although this may mostly occur outside the classroom, teachers should also take into consideration implementing teaching techniques that could help eliminate such behaviors from students.
Bresser, Rusty, Kathy Melanse, and Christine Sphar. “Equity for Languge Learners.” Teaching
Children Mathematics. 2009. Web.
Dominguez, Karen. “Filipino Americans Teens’ Attitudes Towards the Use of Tagalog at
Hendrickson, Katie A. “Student Resistance to Schooling: Disconnections with Education in
Rural Appalachia.” The High School Journal. 95.4 (2012): 37-49. Web.
Ladson-Billings, Gloria. “But That’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturaly Relevant
Pedagogy.” Theory Into Practice. 34.3 (1995): 159-165. Web.
Tyson, Karolyn, William Darity, Jr., and Domini R. Castellino. “It’s Not a Black Thing:
Understanding the Burden of Acting White and Other Dilemmas of High Achievement.”
American Sociological Review. 70.4 (2005). 582-605. Web
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